The response to this rather long essay was quite surprising to me, I have to say. And this shows many people are ready for new ideas and platforms in order to change the status quo.
But personally, I think the central thing here is the hyperlink. If there is going to be any attempt to save the open web, it has to involve the hyperlink.
Here is one idea: The hyperlink should not be seen and dealt with as a thing. Rather it must be treated as a relation, as it was the case pre-Facebook era. I don’t know exactly how to revitalize the hyperlink technically. But in my view, it is the heart of the problem.
Many have pointed out the irony of criticizing the social networks, while publishing on Medium. While I don’t think Medium is as bad as Facebook for the open web (mainly because of its treatment of hyperlinks), I originally pitched it to a few print magazines with an active website. But eventually, it was Matter that stood by the pitch and showed more interest. And I’m very thankful to Boobie Johnson and the rest of Matter team for that.
Some have also asked why I didn’t post it on my own blog: First, I haven’t restarted my English blog yet, and second, I wouldn’t be paid to write in my own blog.
One more thing to add: I had originally written a few paragraphs explaining the theory of hypertext and how this relates to the Web. I had quoted from George Landow’s brilliant book, Hypertext 3.0 (2006), quite a lot and had tried to historicize the concept of hyperlink. But the editor decided it would make the essay too pretentious and I agreed.
Lastly I have to thank all of you who took time to read this essay and share it and comment on it.