Unhosted Web Apps

I stumbled upon this today, as a group that Duck Duck Go1 had given money to. Much of this is either over my head or simply too much work, but these are clearly people who are taking the idea of owning their own space on the web very seriously.2

If you’ve got a little bit of facility with the console in your browser, I recommend taking the 10-15 minutes just to try out An unhosted editor, in which you’ll sort of bootstrap your own in-browser code editor. It’s a little bit trippy, to be honest.

I was especially intrigued by the notion of encoding an entire web app in a data url. For instance, here’s a link to an initial version of the app.3

However intriguing and incredible all this is, I think the site and the ongoing project serve as pretty clear reminders that there is a tradeoff between ownership over something and the amount of work that is required. Their idea is to interact with Facebook and Twitter over their APIs through a “puppet” account, which again is fascinating. But clearly an amount of work that most people can’t be expected to undertake, even if they knew how.

That’s, I think, the potentially ugly opposing force. Many of these open source projects and indie web types of things are actually much less accessible to the majority of people, and so can be problematic in a different sort of way than the centralized and controlled platforms. I tend to think that it’s the kind of work that can eventually be made more accessible over time, as everything needs to start somewhere. But when our big changes finally happen from small seeds, we end up with a new elite in charge made up entirely of people who had the resources, leisure time, and privilege, to create the new world that we’re all living in.4

  1. Duck Duck Go is a search engine that I tried off and on for the past few years, which I now use full time, especially thanks to their recent integration in Safari and iOS. Highly recommended if you’ve never looked into it. 

  2. Clearly, this is something that’s really on my mind

  3. And here’s a fun little version I did up in which you can quickly make changes to the page itself and “Save” them back to the data url. 

  4. Mandy’s essay on the so-called meritocracy, “You keep using that word” is definitely worth a read.