The Smart Web does exist (but it needs your support)

The dumb web is created by people who are convinced that people on the internet are idiots.

You can easily fool them with AI-generated garbarge, manipulate them with cheap tricks, make them buy stuff they don’t need with fake reviews.

They can’t think for themselves or understand nuance.

Better to show them absolute garbage on a site like Forbes than risking exposing them to anything that could make them think.

All they want is content that confirms their existing beliefs or distracts them.

Trump this, Jake Paul that, 5 easy steps, ooh look at that cat.

It’s listicles, clickbait, and regurgitated nonsense.

It’s based on the idea that humans inherently have short attention spans and need to be screamed at to pay attention.

The dumb web is created by committees, fueled by ad dollars, and run by algorithms.

It’s vanilla, boring, and, well, dumb.

The smart web on the other hand does exist too.

But it’s increasingly hard to find.

Most of Google’s search results is dumb web content.

Social media platforms eventually all turn into dumb web machine like TikTok.

It often feels like the whole world is trying to push dumb web content down your throat.

Unless you make a conscious effort, it can easily seem like the dumb web is all there is.

But there is plenty of smart content on the web.

You just have to find it and keep reminding yourself that it’s out there.

The Smart Web

Discoverability of smart web content relies on word of mouth and human curation.

While the dumb web screams, the smart web whispers.

You navigate through the smart web one link, one recommendation at a time. Unlike in the dumb web, links in the smart web are still meaningful. When a smart web site links to another site, it’s worth clicking.

In contrast, in the dumb web, links are exlusively used strategically. You gotta protect your precious SEO juice or sell it to the highest bidder. Links solely exist for robots. Humans, please stick to the content the algorithm recommends, ok?

The smart web is created by individuals, fueled by donations, subscriptions, and curiosity.

It’s powered by RSS, HTML, and email.

It’s blogs and newsletters.

It’s long-form, courageous, weird, and idiosyncratic.

It’s earned insights, original thoughts, first-hand experiences, and independent research, personal stories, bold experiments, deep dives.

It defies categorization.

It’s thought-provoking, and occasionally permanently alters how you see the world.

It’s raw, unfiltered, honest, and authentic.

It’s created by humans for humans.

It’s about connecting with 10 true friends instead of amassing thousands of anonymous followers.

It’s totally unqualified people spending an irrational amount of time exploring esoteric topics.

It’s good-faith discussions in hard-to-navigate forums and comment sections.

It’s people sharing ideas with the world without expecting anything in return, following their curiosity with no plan in mind.

All of that does exist.

And you too can be part of it.


Find one genesis node. Try the sites linked above.

Explore their archives.

Click on all the links.

Browse throug their blogrolls.

Find the content that keeps you thinking for weeks afterwards, the ideas that challenge you, the stories that make you cry.

Subscribe to their newsletters.

Start using an RSS reader.

Send your favorite thinkers emails.

Start your own blog and newsletter.

Generously link to whatever inspires, entertains, or infuriates you.

Two Wolves

The battle is between two wolves.

One is permanently angry, resentful, loud and aggressive. It’s always howling for our attention with sensational headlines, provocative images, and manipulative tactics. It wants us to stay on the surface, encouraging us to react rather than reflect. It feeds on outrage, doomscrolling, negativity, fear, and distraction.

The other one is calm, wise, and patient. It invites us to explore the depths of knowledge, to embrace nuance, to grapple with complexity, to question assumptions, and to form our own opinions. It feed on curiosity, empathy, and genuine connection.

Which wolf will win?

The one you feed.

Written on June 3, 2024

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