Degrowth and “permacomputing”

My friend Ben published this, and I feel like it will resonate with other folks who’ve been drawn to gemspace.

Left to our own devices: A program for tech degrowth

Fundamentally, all of the social media, all of the blogs, all of the wikis, all of the office software as a service, all of the forums, are iterations of the original uses of networked computers: to talk to each other in that new, everyone-to-everyone way. It's really useful!
On the long term, though, it is becoming harder and harder to do it well. Everything seems so bloated, so unnecessarily slow and flashy. This is of course by design—gotta get you to order a new computer one day after all—but there's absolutely no good technical reason for it. Most computers that have been thrown out for "too slow" can and should be useful machines for communication, learning, and development. If we can make this reality, we can take a small but meaningful step in the direction of degrowth.

The whole piece feels important and I hope you’ll read it.

I’m still enjoying Gemini, even now that I’ve crested the peak of the fascination cycle (a personal process that closely resembles the “hype cycle”¹). I only made the connection recently, but the experience of writing here and browsing Antenna² (and other aggregating feeds) reminds me specifically of my experience using Diaryland in the late 90s.

I found an old article about Diaryland (published 1999-12-10!), published by Salon³:

While the Web seems to be slowly collapsing into a small, well-publicized group of uniform, corporate-sponsored networks[...], online diaries have survived on the outside, occupying that Internet space where a level ground for publishing still exists.

I don’t remember exactly how Diaryland ended.

It doesn’t matter; people stopped using it, and it’s gone now. This cycle repeated itself countless times through the 00s and into the 10s; all of these wonderful service-community hybrid entities were brittle because, at their best, they depended on one person (or a small group of people) to keep them running. When they invariably became too much work, one of those three fates befell each one of them.

Gemini, I believe, is robust to this. Solderpunk didn’t create a new “blogging platform” that will invariably collapse. Gemspace will exist as long as anybody is doing something using the protocol, and there are clients and servers to facilitate it. Maybe Gemini will eventually get replaced by something else and wither away, but that would necessarily require the consensus of all of its users.

In the essay above, Ben doesn’t mention Gemini by name. But gemspace is composed of the exact type of “sufficiently fast, low-weight, secure, and free software” that we should get into more people’s hands. We could literally save the world with this stuff.

¹ Hype Cycle
² Antenna
³ Dear Diary