Small Web is a phrase used in a 1999 article, a hosting service, two consulting services, a May 2020 article, a Aug 2020 blog post to aspirationally describe (without citing) a subset of IndieWeb principles, and most recently a HackerNews summary of Gemini.
From 1999 to 2021, articles have defined & described "small web" to mean different things, and most recently recognized the ambiguity of the phrase.
- 1999-09-09: Science Magazine: It's a Small Web After All
- 2020-05-25: Rediscovering the Small Web, written by Parimal Satyal, is a post extolling the virtues of handmade HTML web pages
This essay is my attempt to show you what the small and independent web can look like, why it’s different from the the sites that dominate web traffic today, why it's worth exploring and how easy it is for anyone to be a part of it.
- 2020-08-07: What is the Small Web?
- 2020-09-30: Notes on the small web
Where by small web I mean all the things people are doing to claw back the 'net from corporations: …
The small web doesn't have lofty principles. Nor does it reinvent the wheel. The small web simply aims to put the fun back into making websites, and pride into the old title of webmaster.
- 2021-03 The small web is beautiful
I believe that small websites are compelling aesthetically, but are also important to help us resist selling our souls to large tech companies. In this essay I present a vision for the “small web” as well as the small software and architectures that power it.
- 2021-07-03: Small Web
I’m quite interested in concepts of the “Small Web” and adjacent topics, but it is definitely true that “small web” itself is a vague term that different people use to talk about different kinds of projects.
- 2020-08-30 section of a Gemini proxy Readme: What is the Small Web?
The Small Web are those pages on the WWW that are typically characterised:
- simple and document/content centric, using simple headings, bullets, links and tables only
- accessible to different web clients, but do not need a monster browser such as Chrome to view them
- do not require tracking, cookies, forms or authentication to be viewed
- can be accessed using standard HTTP GET requests
- could be rendered as text/gemini without significant loss of information
- apart from the huge commercial mega sites, a significant portion of the web
Criticism of Aug 2020 repurposing
The 2020 August repurposing (What is the Small Web? above) of "small web" and subsequent rhetoric describes what the "small web" aspires to be in comparison to a narrowly-framed view of what the IndieWeb actually already is today in practice, and thus is an example of the Nirvana fallacy.
Appropriate all the good values and ideas from https://indieweb.org/, re-heat it add some feel-good word salad and we have this "Small Web".
Yes, by all means let's get back to a more decentralized and distributed web. But providing a service where you are still hosting your site on someone else's servers and on someone else's domain and calling for values is just digital green-washing.
Narcissism of Small Differences
Desire to be left alone
Just fucking leave us alone and let us get on with building what we’re building. You don’t have to use it. You don’t have to like it. And you sure as hell don’t have to approve it. Just do what you do and leave us alone, for fuck’s sake. And ffs, stop asking me about #indieweb
Criticism of this page
- Expletive: https://web.archive.org/web/20201030121011/https://twitter.com/aral/status/1322147826755919875
Because we’ve been vilified and attacked by them off and on for the last 7 years. Because we’re not afraid to say fuck Google and fuck surveillance capitalism and no, we can’t all just get along.
https://indieweb.org/small_web <– fuck off
PS. This is Small Web: …
- "centrist academic pedants who get paid by the system" and "aggressively gatekeep" https://web.archive.org/web/20201030133725/https://twitter.com/aral/status/1322150412703641601
… I hadn’t seen that page. Makes my blood boil. Fucking centrist academic pedants who get paid by the system, have zero interest in fundamentally changing it, and who will aggressively gatekeep lest anyone else try to. …
Phrases similar to "small web" or values-aligned related projects:
- Small Internet idea and manifesto dating to 2019
- slow web
- Launch of a series of tools and services focused around the Small Web philosophy: https://blog.kagi.com/small-web
- To do: Tantek Çelik (or anyone else who is interested!) improve structure of this wiki page to make it easier to integrate new uses of and references to "small web" as a concept or philosophy
- As of 2023, also a community curated search engine! https://github.com/kagisearch/smallweb#kagi-small-web