gilest.org: Make the indie web easier:
If we want the future web we’re all clamouring for, we need to give people more options for self-hosted independence. If we seriously, truly want the independent, non-enshittified personal web to flourish, we need to make it easier for people to join in.
Why not build static website generators that people can just unzip, upload to the shared hosting they’ve just paid for, and start using via a browser?
Why not make backups automatic, and make upgrades simple? Why not make the tricky technical stuff go away?
I think I generally agree with the sentiment expressed here. I’m a reasonably technical person (although my tolerance for the endless fiddling often required is getting lower as I get older), but most of these DIY indieweb solutions are too complicated, assuming a level of expertise that is not widespread. Thus, we end up with tons of blogs about web development and software engineering, because the people who can set this stuff up are a self-selecting bunch.
That said, I tend think the answer is not “make self-hosting easier,” because I’m not sure that is possible. “(W)ebsite generators that people can just unzip, upload to the shared hosting they’ve just paid for” just isn’t something most people are even going to do. The people who are going to do that—regardless of how “easy” it is—are probably the ones who already have blogs.
No, I think the answer is more likely to be found in the growing array of independent hosted blogging tools.
Blogging took off in the early 2000s because of sites like LiveJournal, MySpace, Wordpress.com, Tumblr, and Blogger. There had been a small cadre of people running their own sites before that, but it wasn’t until these services came along that the scene really opened up to non-technical people. Downloading something from Github and uploading it to some webhost you’ve found can be confusing and off-putting; creating an account and then getting a relatively easy-to-understand interface to start writing entries is pretty straightforward. Suddenly there were all sort of journalists and pundits and hobbyists firing up their own blogs on these platforms.
Then Facebook/Twitter came along and everyone but the hard-core self-hosters moved there.
Now we seem to be on the cusp of (or already in the midst of, perhaps) another possible shift in this scene, and there are a bunch of smaller hosted blogging platforms cropping up. I think that’s great; I think small, sustainable, human-sized platforms are the way to go for most people. It is definitely where I want to be.
The challenge is the “sustainable” part. I think lots of people are pretty out of the habit of paying for the things they can use, and I am skeptical that the model where a small percentage of paying users at a “pro” level subsidize a much larger group of users at the free level really works, but who knows? Maybe if you’re not looking for endless growth and market domination, it will.