I wrote on Twitter yesterday:
“But Scalzi,” I hear you say, “How do we bring back that artisan, hand-crafted Web?” Well, it’s simple, really, and if you’re a writer/artist/musician/other sort of creator, it’s actually kind of essential:
1. Create/reactivate your own site, owned by you, to hold your own work.
2. When you create that site, write or otherwise present work on your site at least once a week, every week.
3. Regularly visit the sites of other creators to read/see/experience the work they present there.
4. Promote/link the work of others, on your own site and also on your other social media channels where you have followers. Encourage your followers to explore more widely, beyond the algorithmic borders of “social media.”
Now, why should we bring back that artisan, hand-crafted Web? Oh, I don’t know. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a site that’s not run by an amoral billionaire chaos engine, or algorithmically designed to keep you doomscrolling in a state of fear and anger, or is essentially spyware for governments and/or corporations? Wouldn’t it be nice not to have ads shoved in your face every time you open an app to see what your friends are up to? Wouldn’t it be nice to know that when your friends post something, you’ll actually see it without a social media platform deciding whether to shove it down your feed and pump that feed full of stuff you didn’t ask for?
Wouldn’t that be great?
“But Scalzi,” I hear you say, for a second time, “I spent all this time on social media and all my people are there! You’re asking me to start from scratch!” Well, see: You don’t have to leave Twitter or Facebook or TikTok or wherever. Stay as long as you like, and post whatever you like there. Just carve out some of that doomscrolling/toiletscrolling time for your own space, that you control, too. And when you do, then link to your own site from that other social media, and invite your followers on those services to visit you in your own place. And link to other people’s personal sites, so your followers can visit them, too. Make social media work for you, and not just for the amoral billionaires.
That said, yes, it will take some work. Setting up a site, or reactivating it, takes a bit of time. Writing or presenting work exclusive to your own site takes some work. Getting your followers on social media used to the idea of leaving those walled gardens of content takes some work. It’s an actual project. But look at this way: You have just spent years building an audience on a platform someone else owns. Why not take a little time to do it for yourself? And to help others build their own platforms, too. No rush! Let it build over time. But put in the time.
Your platform, one post a week. It’s not too hard, and the upside is less reliance on other people’s platforms, and a healthier, more varied Web. Stay on social media! Make it work for you, not you work for it.
Build a better Web. An artisan Web. A handcrafted Web. Take the time to get people used to it. We’ll all benefit from it. We just have to decide to do it.