Safelinks are looting the small web

Kagi small web

I recently heard some unfortunate things about Kagi's lead developer, but you can use Kagi small web without contributing any funds to Kagi. You can check out their Small Web site with appropriately-old-timey-web-vibes and it will open a random “small web” site in an iframe immediately. You can scroll through random pages like this, or subscribe to the RSS feed, or access them in other ways.

While there is no single definition, “small web” typically refers to the non-commercial part of the web, crafted by individuals to express themselves or share knowledge without seeking any financial gain. This concept often evokes nostalgia for the early, less commercialized days of the web, before the ad-supported business model took over the internet (and we started fighting back!)

Kagi Small Web offers a fresh approach by promoting recently published content from the “small web.” We gather new content, published within the last week, from a handpicked list of blogs and surface it in multiple ways.

Safelinks are a fragile foundation for publishing

If you're reading this you are probably a librarian or tech person, so this blog post won't be news to you. And if you work in a large organisation you probably don't have any choice in how the email system is set up. But...

Here's my prediction. In the next five or so years, Microsoft is going to accidentally shut off * and a million copy-and-pasted links across the web are going to break.

The tl;dr on this is – if you're pasting a link from an email into something else, it's best to open the URL in a browser first, let it do all its redirects, (and remove all the tracking gunk), and then paste it into your document. Future readers will thank you.

As an aside, this also made me think about the DOI system and how if gets DDoS'd or fails for some other reason, most recent academic research will become a lot harder to locate.

They're looting the Internet

Ed Zitron sent this zinger out into the world a couple of weeks ago, and his follow up/companion piece (The man who killed Google Search) is decidedly more brutal. Not much in Zitron's post is new as such, but he lays out clearly what has happened to the “online experience” over the last 15 years and, to some extent, why.

We negotiate with Instagram or Facebook to see content from the people we chose to follow, because these platforms are no longer built to show us things that we want to see. We no longer “search” Google, but barter with a seedy search box to try and coax out a result that isn't either a search engine-optimized half-answer or an attempt to trick us into clicking an ad.

This is essentially the same thesis as Cory Doctorow's awkwardly-named “enshittification”, though I can't help but think both descriptions reveal some level of prior naivety:

The tradeoff was meant to be that these platforms would make creating and hosting this content easier, and help either surface it to a wider audience or to quickly get it to the people we cared about , all while making sure the conditions we created and posted it under were both interesting and safe for the user.

I mean sure, that was always the sales pitch from these companies. But there were people right at the very beginning who warned about the true nature of corporations and capitalism. It's certainly right and proper to point out that they are lying, making human societies demonstrably worse, and can't be trusted. But let's not buy in to the idea that this is a new development.

Libraries and Learning Links of the Week is published every week by Hugh Rundle.

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