This entire essay is very insightful—and your whole blog has a whimsical and
determined air that has me punching my ‘subscribe’ button several times to make
sure it does the job.
One question I wonder: while I think the self-made entrepreneur has got to be
synonymous with imperialist America—couldn’t the independent
autodidact, operating apart from corporate interests, be a modern type of
vanguard for the dispossessed? I feel like the Instagram influencer is more
a direct descendant of The American Dream; the bespoke blog a piece of the
underground press—particularly in 2018, when they have become ancient machinery.
I write it myself, edit it myself, censor it myself, publish it myself,
distribute it myself, and spend jail time for it myself.
— Vladimir Konstantinovich Bukovsky, 1942
Perhaps the difference is that the Indieweb has had an “every person for themselves”
kind of ethic. There are those who DIY and there are those who GTFO. Whereas
underground presses functioned collaboratively. And maybe M.B could be an
underground press if it had an editor and it sought out its sources. It feels
more like a Lions Club, some casual martinis and a snapshot of the
I hope that’s no condemnation. I think the underground presses had their coffee
houses, which gave you a place to bump into co-conspirators.
But it’s the editor thing that I keep bumping up against
on this Web—that we do need more editors, more librarians, more collaboration.
We haven’t quite figured out how to organize in structures that benefit, well,
all of us. That means starting with the lowest tier. If the library can make a way
for books to land in the hands of prisoners, refugees, the poor—then those
books can make it anywhere.
And I think this spiritual cause exists in the Indieweb when I see notes like
those on Brid.gy’s FAQ entry “How much does it cost?”
Nothing! We have great day jobs, and Bridgy is small, so thanks to
App Engine, it doesn’t cost much to run. We don’t need donations, promise.
I feel to inspire readers that might fall across this post—those who can
fashion things and who can throw themselves into rebuilding the Web (as if it were
Dresden)—to take up this same spiritual cause. To make a generous piece of this
crucial public engine. (I realize that this sounds terrifically technopiliac
and loathsome, maybe even in a shameful ‘tech bro’ way, but this technology is
here, right here, fucking everywhere else too it turns out—so let’s try to
find our way, shall we?)
I do think the Indieweb has the glimmer of real answers. But it’s a massive
undertaking. But that’s okay—real answers are too.