our digital ocean

I grew up in front of a computer. I mean that pretty literally. When I was a child, my favorite hobbies were reading, watching anime, and building websites. I dabbled in web design for years and considered going to school for it. In my high school years, the internet started to become commercialized and I dropped my webmaster hobby.

I didn't know it then, but the Chans, Myspace, Facebook and all that came after were the first signs of the wide scale gentrification of the last seemingly free "space" in the US.

I still have copies of my very first webpages made on Microsoft Frontpage, full of dollz and blinkies, gifs, webcounters, and eyeburning background colors. I have long considered this the start of my lifelong addiction to the creative energy of the web.

Lots of people use the metaphor of a spider's web, a virtual reality, or space (the final frontier...) to describe the web. I see the web as a vast ocean.

Like the ocean, the web is an incredible resource full of beings of all sizes, shapes and forms, all interconnected in one giant ecosystem. Giant oil spills, boiling hot runoff or tiny beads of microplastic can poison a creature living in the ocean, and that creature will carry the poison to the next creature it encounters. Whether that creature interacts with kindness or violence, the poison is there. And it will get carried to the next creature regardless.

Like the ocean, the web is vast and deep, full of unknown discoveries, dangers, and resources. What poisons the ocean poisons us - what poisons the web poisons us.

Commercial interests want the web to become like an offshore oil rig - mechanized, spewing filth and generating money at the cost of a natural wonder and all who live and thrive in it.

But like the ocean, there are people out there who see more than dollar signs when the waves crash to shore. The oldweb or indie web, and its denizens - open source developers, activists, hobbyists, and regular people who still know the web as the beautiful and free space it started as.

The web is a symbol of limitless possibility, of equity and community, connection, symbiosis, and expression. By reducing the web to a trading card hub for dark digital money, a megamall building sky high, or a distraction machine meant to brainwash and homogenize us, we limit these possibilities and poison ourselves.

Web 3.0 is visual NewSpeak, a way to stifle our words, our minds, our growth, and the potential for a better world. Everyone's input is different, everyone's viewpoint is unique, and everyone deserves the space to explore themselves and grow.

By choosing how we interact with the web, our digital ocean, we can save it from pollution. We can reintroduce the biodiversity that once thrived in its waters. We can celebrate these beautiful depths and all that they hold. I think it's time for us to wash the oil off and dive deep once again.

By choosing to interact in ways that serve us and our world and by acknowledging and taking responsibility for the mess we’ve made, we can make sure that we live in symbiosis with the web and in greater harmony with one another.

So grab your diving gear. There are plenty of shipwrecks, but there's plenty of hidden treasure here, too.

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