Out With The New, In With The Old
The internet has evolved and grown over time. As a result, how we use the internet to communicate, learn, and conduct commerce has changed. Using email to exchange short messages with others has evolved into multi-purpose messaging applications. Visiting various websites for news has evolved into algorithm-based aggregators and Twitter feeds. Even reading webpages has gone from simple screens with texts and images, to an advertisement extravaganza with innumerable cookies behind every click. Beneath all the fluff and distractions, there are still foundational principles and tools that persist and provide a simpler, purer internet experience.
Delta Chat: Repurpose Your Email
Email is foundational to communication on the internet. Though it has gone through its fair share of changes over the years, at its heart it remains the same. Delta Chat utilizes this tried-and-true internet infrastructure to provide a robust and encrypted messaging application.
Delta Chat has become my messenger of choice for on-boarding friends and family seeking refuge from WhatsApp and other unencrypted centralized messaging applications. Because Delta Chat uses email, it does not require a phone number and almost everyone already has an account. For example, if you download Delta Chat, you can get started right away by logging in using your Gmail account. Delta Chat also has a desktop application, group chat functionality, and much more.
With a significant number of individuals leaving WhatsApp for Signal earlier this year, Signal's servers became overloaded and the whole service went down for days. I personally encouraged many people to switch to Signal from WhatsApp, and I am glad I did. However, centralized services like Signal are much more vulnerable to complete service outages than decentralized services like Delta Chat. Because Delta Chat uses the decentralized email network, it is nearly impossible for the entire network to be shutdown. If and when more individuals seek advice about reclaiming their messaging privacy, Delta Chat has emerged as one of my first recommendations.
- Delta Chat: Mobile and Desktop
RSS: Personalized Content Aggregator
Similar to email, RSS is an older piece of internet infrastructure that is still used today. RSS links are used by RSS readers to automatically collect and display content in a single location. RSS readers can aggregate headlines from news websites, blog posts (for example, the one you're reading now), and even YouTube videos. With an RSS reader, you can choose what sources you get your information from and wrest control back from algorithms.
- RSS Readers: Feeder on F-Droid; Feedly on Android, iOS, Desktop
- CBC: RSS feeds
- CNBC: RSS feeds
- PACER: Use RSS to receive case alerts
Gemini: Rediscover Bloat-Free Browsing
Gemini is something I've been spending a lot of time digging into. Though it is a very new internet protocol, it's growing at a rapid pace. Gemini is a protocol with a “minimalism” quality that the current evolution of the web sorely lacks. Almost everything is text-based and the protocol has been developed to preclude the ability to embed intrusive web elements like ads. Gemini is built with “privacy-first” principles and leverages modern advances in security to provide users with peace-of-mind alongside their minimalist browsing experience. There has been a very promising surge in the breadth of content being published on Gemini. Running your own Gemini page, called a capsule, is also very straightforward. Unlike the modern web, Gemini capsules require very little technical know-how to create and run. You can even run a capsule from your home on a Raspberry Pi. The Gemini community is friendly and active, with new content and capsules created every day. A great place to start your journey is on Gemini content directories and the protocol's main page.
- Gemini: Main Project FAQ
- Lagrange: Gemini Desktop Browser
- Ariane: Android Gemini Browser
- DeeDum: iOS Gemini Browser
- Medusae.Space (gemini://medusae.space/): A Gemini directory
- GUS (gemini://gus.guru/): Gemini Universal Search
The modern web plays an invaluable role in all our lives. The complex systems built using the internet allow us to do more, see more, and learn more, than ever before. But sometimes, taking a step back and appreciating the internet's foundational pieces and principles gives us a glimpse at the untapped potential laying dormant beneath the noise and flashing lights.