This isn’t going to be a long post. The message is simple. It’s actually my second attempt at writing it. I’m not going to tire you by explaining the difference between the web and the internet like I did in my first draft. That had to be deleted.
Here is my general thesis on the “web” to be clear, im talking about the Web not the internet. The web. Got it? Good…
Using FireFox doesn’t save the world. Your choice in browser doesn’t affect anyone accept you. Use FireFox because it’s a great browser with some excellent technologies. But, if by chance you find Chrome, Chromium, Vivaldi, Brave, QuteBrowser, or whatever else better suits your needs then use it. Use it guilt free and unapologetically. Much like all things under this capitalist boot it is not our job as end users to change the world. It is our job to be aware of the ethical issues and prompt for change when we get the opportunity but the reality is that if you use FireFox, or Chrome the world as contained in the internet will not change.
I used FireFox not as an ethical decision but because I thought it was a really good browsing experience. At some point I wanted to use Geforce-Now. This service doesn’t work in FireFox. This is a service based on web technologies that exist only in Chromes rendering engine. I had to load Chromium onto my system. Yep. That’s it, I needed to use a thing that FireFox did not support so, I installed the browser that did support it.
Now please don’t misunderstand me. I know I didn’t need to use GFN. I could have played something else. Sure. But if that’s where your mind is going pretend I said “banking software” or “something else important” the point here is that when a browser doesn’t support a thing you need to use, then your only option is to not use that thing or to install a browser that does work.
Now think of the business logistics here. If I had have chosen the ethical high ground and not played GFN then Nvidia would have £5 a month less from me. How many people have to choose to not install Chrome before the cost of “fixing it” to work in FireFox out weigh the lost sales? I would guess the answer is about a metric fuck tonne and half a shit load.
The reality is that when you don’t install Chrome, no one cares. No one at Google, no one at Nvidia, no one at all.
Now that’s not to say that I’m defeatist. I would happily not play Geforce-Now if I thought for a moment it mattered. Even the combined forces of all FireFox users doesn’t move the needle on this one. The numbers of Chrome users has already reached the point where Google are grateful of FireFox’s existence because they are more worried about the monopolies commission than they are of Mozilla.
The harsh truth is this simple. It is not a more Ethical choice to support FireFox instead of Chrome. All those FireFox users will almost always have a second browser installed to fire up when required. FireFox hasn’t just lost this battle, it’s a hobbyist platform at this point.
I respect the ethical computing people. I love that they care but I don’t. I don’t care even a little. In my mind the fact that people just fire up Chrome when necessary means that FireFox is a fashion statement or a taste choice. Whatever browser you opt for you are still viewing the same shit soaked piss hole that is the web.
What is so wrong with the web I hear you ask?
Delivering documents should not be something that requires the most resource intensive application on my computer. Even the most interactive form or document should not require gigabytes of RAM. Web browsers are massive complicated monsters not because they are badly coded or because they have had endless feature creep but instead because they have no idea what horse shit you are going to try and load with them. Because of this they have to be basically everything we would expect. Document viewers, video players, RSS readers, image viewers, Security tools, code inspectors, the list goes on.
Honestly, think about a news website. It will contain video, ads, Java script, comments sections, CSS, sound, login whatever, animation, layers and who knows what else. Also is burrowing through to other sites who also contain all this crap. Then on top of that its got to “feel” snappy so it’s trying to pre-load literally all the things as it goes. This is all to deliver what the user wants. And what does the user want? Text. The person visiting a new site wants text. Sure I’ll grant you that the occasional streaming video would be handy, even a picture or two but do they want ads? Animations? Layering presentation? Preloading, fucking comments? More ads? Nope. The user essentially wants a newspaper.
Okay, fine what about “rich” content like that offered by YouTube? Well guess what, even YouTube know that we don’t want it. They offer a YouTube Premium subscription that lets you not have those ads that THEY serve to you. They make you pay remove things that THEY added.
Personally when I go to YouTube I don’t want recommendations, tracking, metrics, promoted video or a banner telling me how great Premium is. I want the fucking video I clicked on. I especially don’t want fucking comments. Comments can fuck right off.
When I do to a website personally, and I can really only speak for myself. I want text. If it has links to download video and open it in my own player that I actually installed then great. If it has pictures that complement the article fine. But that’s all.
Oh and don’t even get me started about the two worst things a website can do. The first is the “oh no you have adblock installed, you can’t visit this site unless you disable it” and the second being “What do you think of this website?” the moment you load it.
Over all browsing the web is a nightmarish fever dream and I basically hate it. I do all I can to make it nicer. I block most ads. I use CLI based alternatives where appropriate and I basically don’t ever look at comments sections unless I have a purpose in being there.
This has resulted in me using basically nothing. Most news sources I have are RSS read so I never visit the sites. I download YouTube subscriptions and I use Discord.
I honestly don’t interact with the web that much at all. Its something I actively avoid. Think about that for a moment. I have a nicer time on the internet buy avoiding the web. Most people think the web is the internet.
I am measurably happier by not using the web very much. If you are reading this very post on the web then DON’T you could have it in RSS or via Gemini. Why would you suffer the web? And my website is literally as “clean” as I can make it.
Even if a bunch of people made less offensive websites it wouldn’t solve the problem. If these “clean” sites had links on, I could quickly end up back on the “dirty” web. The problem is systemic and structural.
This is where Gemini is king. I know when I am in a Gemini client that I will stay in that client. My mind set is not one of chaos it’s like reading a book or newspaper. The sites can link away and the most startling thing I can encounter is bas ASCII art. Because of this I spend some lovely evenings reading Gemini pods.
A long time ago my standard way of working has been to have a web browser open all the time, workspace 1 is web. Has been for decades now. But today, after thinking all this through I will no longer be opening a browser as standard. The new method is to open it when I need it and close it when its done. Not have it perpetually there looking at me like a looky thing!
The web is burning and I desire freedom from it. Its not about what browser you choose to run. Its about how you relate to it. Open the damned thing when you require it and close I when you are done. How long before the RSS reader is easier to pop open than the browser. How long before the web feels like a chore?
In my head its good that one application is a window to so much “content” but in reality I am chained to a window that is populated by things I don’t want and didn’t put there. The web is a pseudo addiction and needs to be broken. I want to get back to “applications” and away from the web browser monster.
I’ll update you in a few weeks when I can tell you what sits on workspace 1 once the web is closed by default.
I suspect I can’t do it. Honestly. But what the fuck do I want the web for anyway?
When I say “burn the web” I mean it. Take it all away. Lets let something like Gemini, RSS and CLI based interfaces become standard because the web exists to trap us. Trap us in advertisements, tracking metrics and comments that fuel the hive mind. It does nothing to make my life easier.
Burn the web.