Beyond Web 2.0 and the Browser?

One of the things in IT I find most frustrating is how the majority of software in use today consists of WebApps that run inside browser engines that are in the hands of a small oligopoly, dominated by Google. There are like two intertwined Web’s, one is the web-as-intended Web 1.0 hypermedia, and then there’s Web 2.0 that offer a proliferation of proprietary platforms and services, the walled gardens of the Corporate Web™.

What technology trends may finally break this corporate stranglehold of Big Tech players?

There’s a lot going on in terms of offering alternatives in all areas. But what are their chances of success? What combinations of innovations and revivals of ‘old technologies’ work best?

Recently I became quite excited watching a presentation on “local-first” software by Johannes Schickling ( and posted about it on Social Coding forum “Musings on Local-First Development”. And btw my own definition of “local-first” is simply:

Local-first: Collaborative software that works fine without internet connection and syncs when it comes online.

That brings us back to an old era of locally installed software with extra connectivity features. There’s no preference for particular network protocol stacks, and no need for UI’s to be browser-based. There’s still a Web 1.0 that can be emphasized as that is where we ‘interconnect knowledge’, but less or no need for a heavyweight Web 2.0. Providing WebApps becomes optional.

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My stuff is very much inspired by the Local-first movement as handed down by Ink&Switch. Unfortunately my stuff is currently “local-only” because LÖVE doesn’t support https yet. But the next version will, whenever it comes out.


Ink&Switch set a very inspiring example and I really love what they are doing. What I also find intriguing (but am in no way an expert on) is what different network stacks can bring to the table. An example of a very promising project imho is Librecast, which you probably know about (See e.g. “Privacy and Decentralization with Multicast” by Brett Sheffield at LCA 2020).

You should search for articles on the web of Baruch Gottlieb on digital materialism. He points that the transformation of the internet from its decentralized nature to few centralized hubs is the result of the cost of infrastructure and software development and that the only way to support this cost in Capitalism is with firms that seek profit and thus a greater capture of the market.

So to put it another way, the technology was already permitting decentralized communications, but the economy does not function this way.

Thank you. How much of that is based on how the current internet operates, I wonder? The multicast video above is worth watching in this regard, where Brett points out how our pervasive use of unicast makes our ‘decentralized internet’ inherently prone to centralization in order to serve many people. With unicast you need Google-scale datacenters. With multicast you do not. Brett is a great speaker, and that video (and others) are to me mindblowing in the potential that exists when multicast gets proper attention again.

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One way to do local-first with today’s tools is to factor out synchronization and let special tools handle it. For me that’s currently Syncthing, which works fine for a small number of devices and/or users. Other projects that look interesting (but which I don’t know much about) are Earthstar and sqlsync.