> What happened to the internet?
The internet is being consumed by monolithic giants while we sit back and watch it happen. They rely on a handful of proprietary algorithms for our social livelihoods. This means an erosion of our privacy. It also means that we are no longer empowered to foster community on our own terms.
When aggregating power takes precedence over innovation, we all lose: we lose our agency, we lose the ability to contribute, we lose the ability to scrutinize a closed system, we lose our opportunity to demand change. We get lowest common denominator outcomes which cater to the needs of the few.
> What happened to open source?
Open-source is alive and well... in a way. Sure, we share a lot of libraries, we avoid reinventing the wheel, and our code is more secure because we have more eyes on the primitives. But open-source software was supposed to be for the benefit of people. The rate at which open-source solves the needs of developers exclusively with so little attention to solving the needs of the rest of the world demonstrates a flaw in our approach.
Open-source is an opportunity. We developers know vital open-source is at the lowest levels, but it’s still leaving behind people and entire communities. We need to own real estate on the Internet instead of renting plots from the slumlords of cyberspace.
> What happened to the future?
What happened to fostering community on the Internet? Why did we regress away from distributing value towards allowing it to be consumed? Why are content moderation decisions conducted autocratically instead of by the actual community leaders in our society? What happened to respecting privacy? When did we lose our own agency to fight against disinformation, abuse, radicalism, and social isolation?
Our optimism for the future should not leave us gullible. We can't believe the story of benevolent big tech in the absence of actual transparency. Instead, we can build a foundation of meaningful optimism together by normalizing transparency and strengthening our own agency.
> What now?
This is a short essay about ideas, but it's brought to you from folks building stuff with these ideas in mind. We're the people building Forem — an open-source community and social media platform.
We first built dev.to and made it open-source two years ago. We then set out to extract it for everyone’s enjoyment.
We’re currently rolling out our hosted version with early partners who have expressed interest. Our plan is to provide a broader release of our hosted service in 2021, along with a better roadmap for self-hosting.
Forem is a company. We have investors and a business model — one not driven by surveillance but by a commitment to excellence of service in partnership with Forem creators. We are committed to building a user experience that represents the many. We are inspired by people that recognize the future when they see it.