The technologies that would make the web more participatory

Originally published at:


…liberate you from corporate ownership of your online identity.

Wait, why would our owners want that?


make the web more participatory

It’s time has come, let the participatory begin.


I am participating right now!


I’m not sure how much easier view source can be. I right click and select “View page source” friom the menu. I don’t remember it ever being much easier than that…


Dam you, DAM! You stole my thunder!



Oh, I remember, I remember well those lost times.


There’s a real irony in that he posted this article on Medium. He’s got his own blog. Why not there?

1 Like

Need something stat!


Not sure we should tell them about “inspect element” if they are still trying to use “view source”


And I’d like to see Google Maps run in the original Netscape browser.

Anil is being painfully naive here.

Like saying “Gosh, why can’t building a jumbo jet be as easy as folding a paper airplane, why I remember the days…”

No Anil, no you don’t, nothing you’re looking at today was ever that easy.

Admit it, you were up against a publishing deadline and this is the best you could come up with…


Sorry but “Inspect” kicks “view sources” butt any day. The nature of web pages have changed, they are more dynamic and therefore the old tools ( ie view source ) are not up to the task. Luckily almost all the new modern browsers, ( chrome / safari / firefox ) come with pretty good tools built in and accessible to all.


There are some naive sections (most notably the “transclusion” section: anyone of a certain age remembers how much we appreciated people hotlinking our multimedia assets back when hosting was expensive and definitely never served…alternate…images when we discovered the deed; and more recently the most prominent use of ‘transclusion’ has been Facebook ‘like’ buttons and assorted embedded malware ads and tracking beacons; but “There’s no reason that this can’t be done today[snip] If we can address the security and performance concerns of sharing data this way”: given that ‘security’ and ‘performance’ are kind of the two things you give up control over when you embed external assets that shouldn’t be a problem at all…); but I’m not sure that “contemporary web app would have sucked in Netscape” is really a counter-argument:

It’s not a technical barrier per se; but it wouldn’t surprise me if having the prevailing level of polish be extremely high, as produced programmatically by large teams of professional experts, is the psychological counterpart to having ‘view source’ typically display a wall of content tool output that is both somewhat arduous to unpick and rather unlike what a human would write: back when the prevailing standards of the web were, well, kind of janky, the web page was both pragmatically and psychologically approachable. If you looked at it you might well glean useful information about how it did what (pitifully little) it did; and the crap you bodged together in Notepad would seem to differ in degree; but not so much in kind. This made it approachable; both in being comparatively easy to poke at and in not seeming impossibly distant from what your puny efforts could achieve.

Some fancy web app; while markedly nicer than one of those period pieces(except for sites where KISS is the prime virtue; those historically have, and forever should, look like they were produced by man2html with a casual disregard for how they might appear on a bitmapped display) is both practically and psychologically harder to approach: poking at its autogenerated-and-minified contents will tell you little; and it will be so superior to your attempts at duplication that you had best be quite motivated if you plan to continue.


I don’t feel like a huge population of would-be web authors is locked out by their inability to enable the developer menu in their browsers one time.

And yeah, the inspectors in modern browsers are indescribably more useful than “view source”. I would have learned HTML much faster if I’d been able to change existing web pages and see the effects in real time. In fact, there is much less of a barrier to tinkering now, because you can start by tweaking things before you work up to writing a whole HTML document from scratch.

The problem is entirely with the source code. In the early days, some hand-coded web pages were simple enough that you could pretty much figure out what everything did, and there are no pages like that now. But it still varies wildly from site to site. The particular thing that bugs me is the uncontrolled use of JavaScript frameworks, whose workings are much harder to figure out. On modern websites, it’s often virtually impossible to figure out what the simplest buttons and hyperlinks do, because the developer has used some overcomplicated framework to implement advanced features like “visiting a different URL”.


I’m struggling to see how we don’t have tools that would have made my early 90’s self jump for joy.

Various blogging platforms, almost all of which are available for free? Wonderment!

I don’t think the problem is that I’m blocked from creating. It’s not even that big a problem that my creation has ads speckled about them .

The problem is that it didn’t take people too long to realize they weren’t all that interested in my creations…

Professional content creators are good at their job.

Who knew?


Yeah, it seems like the real problem with “view source” now is web pages that use 20 to 100 times more markup text and scripts to accomplish the same thing. It’s pretty hard to figure out what’s going on in web pages, given all the cruft that’s accumulated on popular web sites.


I guess that and the pages that load everything meaningful dynamically using javascript. The joy of JS frameworks.

1 Like

This. May I recommend:

The Website Obesity Crisis, a talk by Maciej Cegłowski.

Contains some very absurd examples.


Certainly that can happen, but you can also write a web page today with tight, semantic HTML and remarkably compact CSS.

In the early days of the web, we were using outlandish table-based layouts (often with multiply nested tables) which were a nightmare to write and reverse engineer (HTML-based e-mail still uses this, thanks to Microsoft using a circa-1995 renderer in Outlook).

With CSS2, there was still some janky HTML just to give the CSS enough hooks to work its magic, with needless tags nested inside each other. The CSS was a wonderland of hacks and bodges, with floats and clearing and negative margins, so much that a lot of people said “fuck it” and just linked in an existing CSS framework, where someone else had already done the heavy lifting.

It is so much easier to write elegant HTML & CSS now.