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Having spent 6 years in Evin prison in northern Tehran, this post from Hossein Derakhshan provides a unique perspective of the web and how it’s changed in recent years.

The hyperlink was my currency six years ago. Stemming from the idea of the hypertext, the hyperlink provided a diversity and decentralisation that the real world lacked. The hyperlink represented the open, interconnected spirit of the world wide web — a vision that started with its inventor, Tim Berners-Lee. The hyperlink was a way to abandon centralization — all the links, lines and hierarchies — and replace them with something more distributed, a system of nodes and networks.

[…] Since I got out of jail, though, I’ve realized how much the hyperlink has been devalued, almost made obsolete.

The rise of mobile and the “app” container it introduced has changed the way most people think about and interact with internet technologies. Now when most people discuss the web it’s through the lens of an app.

Hypertext was, and still is, a quite radical way of approaching text. Our cultural traditions have embedded a linear structure as the norm. The hyperlink disrupts that cultural narrative and for many people it’s uncomfortable so the contained app makes more sense to them.

Hossein’s observations about social media are really quite interesting:

At the same time, these social networks tend to treat native text and pictures — things that are directly posted to them — with a lot more respect than those that reside on outside web pages.

Perhaps a sign of the “enclosure of the web” and the establishment of the Vectoral Class? Well maybe…

The centralization of information also worries me because it makes it easier for things to disappear.

But the scariest outcome of the centralization of information in the age of social networks is something else: It is making us all much less powerful in relation to governments and corporations.

Finally, I think this observation is pretty spot on. Despite the ability for the internet to engage and create spaces for real and meaningful interaction it isn’t.

The web was not envisioned as a form of television when it was invented. But, like it or not, it is rapidly resembling TV: linear, passive, programmed and inward-looking.

Source: The Web We Have to Save

Image: White House Vigil To Save Net Neutrality 11 from Stephen Melkisethian

Category: post

Tags: hyperlink, link, centralised, centralized, reading, television

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Tim Klapdor


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