What does "rewilding the internet" mean to you?

After reading this article, I’m thinking of making a short, simple zine about rewilding the internet.

So, what does “rewilding the internet” mean to you? What are some ways an individual human can help make the internet a healthier, more diverse ecosystem?

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rewilding the internet, to me, is less about restoring the internet to its former glory and more about combining the sensibilities of the oldweb with the technologies, functions, and capabilities of current tech. i’m sure most here, including myself, wish we could turn back time and bring the oldweb back in its entirety, warts and all - but i just don’t think that as a wholesale concept is possible. i don’t think we can ever return to that time exactly as it was, but there is without a doubt a LOT we can learn and take from the past internet to nurture a healthier future internet.

in no particular order, here are some bulletpoints containing key factors of a more diverse, more colorful internet (in my opinion):

  • decentralization. the more spaces people can escape to and curate their own internet experiences, the better. even if it isn’t pure HTML/CSS coding and webmastering, sites like hotglue.me, mmm.page, and even forums like this one offer access to a less corporatized internet, which is a win no matter what.
  • gatekeeping. you ever notice how every single space on the internet nowadays is rated E for Everyone? i’m not saying it’s inherently bad to be inclusive, and there is a time and a place for people of all walks of life to congregate, but it’s hard to build a strong sense of community when there’s no common thing for anyone to bond over except, well, being on the same side of the web as them. this is why webrings are so attractive; because they’re made for certain groups of people, like artists, or writers, or hyper obsessive super nerds. to tie it into the rewilding metaphor, think of exclusive spaces as a variety of habitats, and the contemporary web as one amorphous, nondescript piece of territory. the internet is filled with diverse people with diverse needs, and there’s no shame in acknowledging everyone’s differences and making separate spaces for them.
  • making and sharing stuff. passing around resources, being transparent about how you coded something on your site, and creating assets for free is really, really important. giving people more resources and tips/tutorials is the same as helping someone get one step closer to actually getting away from the modern web.

even though this is a long post i feel like i didn’t actually offer much, but i hope it helped somewhat. good luck on the zine! :+1::+1:

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To me, “rewilding” means going back to a time when building a site or webspace was a handmade experience. When I was little, you could easily get away with garish colours and backgrounds on Myspace, but that’s because coding was just freshly available to the general public and no one knew any better except for the people who had been making websites since the Netscape era.

One would think it would also mean “no mods & no rules, yipee”, however this is not the case. We are not going back to a time when you could easily get away with saying slurs in a comedy skit on Youtube. Instead, we are going back to a time when you could say your thoughts without being attacked by trolls. And if you were to be attacked by trolls, the moderators would step in and ban the heck out of these trolls, because moderators were more competent than the ones on Facebook & X. And if we can’t block them for our sake and others, then the mods will do the job. I feel Neopets was a good example of how online moderation should work (except for that one time in late 2010s, but we don’t talk about that due to how family unfriendly that mess was.)

What I’m getting at is that we need to break free from the social media. Lately we’ve become more aware of how it affects us and our mental health, which is a pretty good start! The next step is to reinvent social media to become a safer and more welcoming space, which is what Fediverse is going through right now. No platform is perfect, but at least in my experience is better than Facebook. (At least in 2012. I haven’t used it very much in the last 5 or so years, but giving up on Monster Galaxy was a price I had to pay to focus on more important things in life, such as college (which i finished…twice.))

Forgive me if I went off a bit of a tangent. What I’m trying to get at is that people should start enjoying things again. Like, actually enjoy things. Enjoy doing art. Enjoy playing games. And enjoy taking pictures. And not doing it for the clout, views, or the “twenty seconds of fame”, but for the pure ENJOYMENT of what we do. We must create more than just content: we must create things that we ENJOY that others ENJOY. Things that we PUT OUR HEART AND SOUL INTO that is easily distinguishable from whatever AI sludge is being put into people’s faces these days. Places like the 32-Bit Cafe are the reason why more and more people want to leave Google, Facebook and X: it has HEART AND SOUL that social media try to capitalize on.

In other works, we must un-domesticate ourselves from the snake-oil salesman and explore the wild frontier once more. That is what I think it means to “rewild the internet”.

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Make your own website, outside of Corporate control. Don’t rely on social networks controlled by oligarchs. Find alternatives to Big Tech. Create stuff - goofy stuff, serious stuff but stuff. Creating holds back the Darkness.

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One thing that article didn’t do much of was explain how an individual could make a difference and help to rewild the internet. A lot of what needs to be done is very much on a macro level, involving policy changes and governmental input.

One thing I think we can do on a micro level is to VOTE and get involved with politics on a community level. If we can make changes locally - sit on community councils, speak at town meetings, vote in people who will support the big macro projects (or who will, in turn, support the people who will support the big stuff!) - then these little actions will (hopefully) coalesce into the change that we want to see.

I think another thing we can do on an individual level is practice what we preach. The article pointed out that the structures supporting the internet are run by duopolies. 2 examples: Google and Apple’s internet browsers have 85% of the market share while Microsoft and Apple’s desktop operating systems have 80%.

So, be the change you want to see. Like @BradE said, find alternatives to Big Tech. Use a browser that isn’t Edge or Chrome or Safari. There aren’t a whole lot of operating system options but maybe explore Linux. And then talk about it! Let people know what you’re doing and why. Offer to show people how to switch and let them know why they might want to switch. Spread those seeds!

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What are some of your favorite web browsers beyond the big ones? I could mention them in the zine.

I use Duck Duck Go on my phone and Firefox on the laptops (and occasionally the phone).

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Here’s the zine! It’s an 8-page single sheet zine, to be folded into a booklet. It’s a very short, very simple introduction. I’m still learning about this concept myself, so I hope I did it justice.

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Very nice! I love handwritten zines and your handwriting is so cute!

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I printed, but wasn’t sure which way to fold it :smiley:

A rewilded web won’t, and shouldn’t look exactly like the old web.

Was the best takeaway for me from your zine.

Great work.

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Here’s a tutorial.

i actually don’t think “rewilding” is a good metaphor for the web at all, outside of the very specific way it’s used in the article (which is discussing the web in terms of policy and infrastructure and not concerned with individual action). it just doesn’t really expand outwards for me.

what makes for a healthy ecosystem is different from what makes for a pleasant human environment; there is no natural or ideal state of the web that has been changed by massive human interference; different people have very different ideas of what the internet is “supposed” to be for or do and that affects how they use it and what they make with it.

an ecosystem has a lot of very different types of beings in it fulfilling very different purposes and interacting with each other in complex ways. humans are of course varied and diverse and complex, but not on the scale of “algae and wolf and tree and lichen and squirrel and bird and etcetcetc”. that’s part of why the web is as consolidated as it is. people want to use the internet for talking to other people, for sharing their interests, for making money, and for making art. that’s most of it. that’s not actually a lot of things!

an ecosystem that has only one animal in it is not an ecosystem! everything on the internet exists because of human action, human intention, human desires and inclinations and preferences and behaviors. there are no pollinators, no colonizer plants, no invasive species, no natural formations, no vernal pools, etc. we aren’t coexisting with anything besides each other online! the environments we create and curate and steward are for other people and ourselves.

individual humans are not interacting with an ecosystem of animals and plants and weather and landscape when they go online; they are interacting with other human beings and the things those other human beings have created.

the things people dislike about the internet have been created by people and shaped by people’s psychology and behaviors. social media is optimized to take advantage of how people interact with each other and their emotional inclinations. if people didn’t click on clickbait, clickbait wouldn’t exist. if people didn’t create bots, bots wouldn’t exist. et cetera. i just don’t think that’s comparable to an ecosystem at all!

a responsible, healthy, well-managed, thriving ecosystem cannot consist entirely of well-behaved herbivores munching on grass and having a nice time. it requires predation and death and decay, it requires parasites and disease and wildfires. this is not true of human social environments. there is no healthy human social equivalent of balancing the population of predator and prey animals or burning undergrowth to benefit the overall health of a forest, and there isn’t really an ecosystem equivalent of trolling or other bad online human behaviors.

maybe i’m just being too pedantic? idk. i think there are lots of good and fun and interesting things individual people can do to improve the internet and create healthy environments for other people, but i would not describe any of it as “rewilding.”

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Maybe it isn’t a good metaphor; it’s true that humans interacting online aren’t just like an ecosystem of animals and plants. I’m honestly very new at this, and there are a lot of things I still don’t understand or didn’t consider. I can remove the zine from the resource list if many people agree that it’s misleading or harmful. Or I can replace it with an updated version explaining why rewilding isn’t a perfect metaphor, if/when I have the spoons to do so.

I tried my best… But couldn’t get it :joy:

Nah, I don’t think you’re being pedantic. I also don’t like the “rewilding” term either, part way through the article it does mention it’s not just a metaphor, but a “framework”.

I look at this as “rebuilding the web”.

The original article talks a lot about the infrastructure that the internet runs on, whether the cables, DNS resolvers, and the data centers that host all our data… This is a big task, and not much that I can do personally. We have Internet NZ down here who look after the .NZ TLD and aim to provide an inclusive internet for all New Zealanders. They provide services that aren’t reliant on the Big Tech / Ad Tech behemoths.

I’ve been a member for a number of years and look forward to seeing what initiatives can be brought to light for building communities online that also doesn’t rely on the aforementioned tech behemoths and be able to provide home grown platforms. Nothing worse than having to check facebook to see if local sports have been cancelled or not on a wet Saturday morning.

Check to see if your local area/country has similar organisations and get involved.

Which brings me back to “rebuilding the web” I see it as personal action similar to what most of us here are doing. Existing outside of big tech / ad tech and their platforms. Building our own websites and taking advantages of our freedom to link to what ever other websites we wish and hopefully get linked to by other websites.

That’s how I think we get there to building a healthy web of communities online outside of the current default.

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i don’t think there’s anything particularly wrong with your zine; i definitely didn’t say that it was misleading or harmful! :sweat_smile:

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Understood. I have really bad anxiety about getting things wrong. :)

No, nothing wrong with the zine