there are two Webs

there seems to be confusion and disagreement when it comes to the future of the Web. i think that the core of this issue is that there are two Webs in our modern world, and their needs are opposed to one another.

the first Web, is the original dream of the World Wide Web. it is an interconnected network of documents, where you can instantly view the full text of a citation without having to track it down in an old copy of a scientific journal. in this world, we find blogs like this one, along with many other static websites; a few server-side tricks may be used, but a wiki is the most advanced thing you'll find.

this web is made out of simple HTML, with CSS optionally used to add visual flair as needed. small amounts of Javascript may be used on occasion, but there isn't a need for anything more fast than an interpreted scripting language. the static nature of the pages means that a simple snapshot with a tool like the Wayback Machine can fully capture a site for future preservation.

the second Web is defined by webapps. webapps treat the Web as a hardware-agnostic virtual machine that runs graphical software, not as a protocol for accessing remotely hosted documents. over time, webapps have come to dominate much of the activity on the Web, especially commercial activity. it's simply easier to make money off a service that people use, as opposed to a thing that people read.

this Web is made out of complicated HTML that's generated on-the-fly on a server, plus way more CSS than needed. because these webapps found Javascript to be too slow, they made WebAssembly, which conveniently also switches from being interpreted to being compiled, making it harder to see what their code is doing on your machine. if you try and archive one of these sites, you won't be able to, at least not without complicated tools that filter out all the garbage for you.

the confusing nature of modern web browsers and web standards can be understood once you see this dichotomy. web browsers are made by the companies that make these bloated webapps, solely for the purpose of consuming more of their bloated webapps. Google will shove whatever "standard" they need into Chrome if it'll make them more money off Youtube or Google Search, and nobody has any power to stop them from doing so. every other browser has such a small marketshare that they'll be forced to adopt the standard whether they like it or not, or else risk losing even more as their users jump ship to keep using the popular webapps.

while it may be easy to rush to saying we need to make a new Web-like thing, i don't think that's the answer. inevitably, the issue becomes picking what amount of fanciness is good, and honestly, there is no one answer that will make anyone happy. while some people like plaintext, others want multimedia. some people will swear off any interactivity or animation, while others rely on it. Gopher and Gemini seem to only have been successful in picking the right amount of fanciness to make everyone so unhappy that they don't bother using them at all.

even with all i just said, and despite all the criticisms the modern web may get, i think a subset of modern web standards is still rather good at sharing stylish documents over a network. no need for more than HTML — with proper semantics, of course — along with simple CSS, and a light sprinkling of Javascript. although perhaps i am biased, as that is what this website uses.

maybe we just have to accept that no one thing can please everyone.

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