The Personal Web Utopia

But first, an optional midi, for old times sake.

Utopia - Alanis Morissette

What is a utopia, could one exist?

Merriam-Webster defines a utopia as:

  1. often capitalized: a place of ideal perfection especially in laws, government, and social conditions
  2. an impractical scheme for social improvement
  3. an imaginary and indefinitely remote place
A Utopia, depicted as a city of code and clouds on a floating island.

I'd like to take a moment to break down those points before we move on.

Number 1

often capitalized: a place of ideal perfection especially in laws, government, and social conditions

We can create 'ideal perfection' at a far lower cost and effort than in any other construction we could obtain. That is the beauty of the web: the accessibility of it and the strength of its core.

Number 2

an impractical scheme for social improvement

I'll build upon this definition because *especially* in times like these, a utopia isn't so much an 'impractical solution', but quite possibly the only one that can get us through this with any humanity intact. The current dystopian reality of the internet is a sea of advertisements, NFTs, and centralisation. I believe the internet could become a utopia instead.

Number 3

an imaginary and indefinitely remote place

This point is why I decided to write this piece. The web is both so close and somehow forever remote, in the sense it is intangible, never entirely attainable, accessible, familiar, yet somehow also forever new and changing. We are beside each other, creating, yet we learn so much because we are still different and apart. Imagination can thrive here if unfettered by the restraints of those corporate entities that would choose to capitalise on our creations, monetising every viral video, dance, song, and post.

Rainbow bricks, pieces of the utopia.

Brick by brick...

Dismantling the dystopian infrastructure is beyond the reach of many but building our utopia as a personal place is possible. The following serve as some methods I’ve felt are small ways you can creaye your own personal utopia on the web. Remember that some things are inaccessible to those without the privilege of time or money or various other reasons, and so none of it serves as a rulebook of the one way to do things, look at it as a small guide as to how retain some sanity as the world collapses.

So, what are some ways to create a web utopia?

A CD, a cassette tape and a book floating around two CRT monitors.

Digitise and Archive:

Start archiving your physical objects digitally (with safe backups!) and donate the physical items that are of good quality. Maybe you want to upload some of it to the Internet Archive, or Wikimedia Commons, depending on what it is (photos, magazines, art?).

Someone wearing a virtual reality headset floating out of a cloud. An N64 controller and a retro telephone shaped like a mouth float around them.

Share and Shape:

Make content on the web in your own personal space, not Facebook, not Instagram, but your own website away from the algorithms and the ads, Neocities is a good place to start. Somewhere you can go to feel at peace surrounded only by your favourite things. Join communities, share with them, enjoy what others have made, it’s an antidote to the muck.

A person with blue and pink hair floats out of a cloud, she has one prosthetic arm holding a flower. A wooden hand floats nearby making the sign language word for 'love', and there are also two monkey figurines having a conversation, one is blind.

Access for All:

If you've taken the time to make something, don't you want to make sure everyone can enjoy it? One of the greatest things about the web is that it is so easy to make it accessible to so many. There’s no massive ramp construction or renovation, all you need to do is think of others from the start of a design through to the finish. Ensure everything is available as text that a screen reader can view, limit imagery that may hurt those who are epileptic, and check your colour contrast and readability.

Some tools you can use to make all of this easier are:

It shouldn’t feel like a limitation on your creativity, but rather an expansion of it, great innovation comes from problem solving.

A bonsai tree with two hands growin out of it, one is a caucasian-passing feminine hand with the rainbow infinity symbol for autism on it, the other hand is that of a masculine African-American person with a gay pride rainbow ribbon. They are holding a cardboard protest sign that says 'planet over profit'.

Safe Spaces:

As more dangerous ideologies are made public by those that would see many of the world’s most vulnerable people suffer through hate speech and hateful acts - we must make spaces where they may not enter. A utopia of ideal social conditions cannot occur where there is racism, transphobia, chauvinism, sexism, homophobia, religious discrimination, ableism, nor xenophobia. If you believe otherwise, take a step back and think about why you feel that way.

A white rabbit wearing influencer sunglasses sits behind a streamer's microphone and headphones.

Critical Thinking:

Don’t believe everything you read, especially if it’s just the headline to an article on Facebook or a loud conspiracy YouTube video. Always look deeper into everything you consume, check the references, read the study, see if it’s been posted on fact-checking sites like Snopes, don’t let the rabbit holes control you.

Coffee, oranges and a burning Amazon package.

Support Small:

Unsubscribe from Amazon Prime and instead support local businesses, smaller online shops, and make a huge difference to their lives. Amazon may not notice you leave, but these others will notice you arrive. Start with the places with the least reviews, leave positive reviews, update their details, or upload photos.

Pieces of a phone floating around a piece of cake on a cloud..

Putting the Pieces Together

Finally, take everything with a grain of salt, even what I’ve said here, because perspective is a huge part of the human experience, and I think you are wholly capable of making your own beautiful personal utopia with no help from anyone but just your own passionate creations and thoughts online. There's no point knowing all the rules if you don't break them on occasions where you're at your limits, just trying to break through the creative block. It's better to just make at all than to be paralysed in fear.

This article was created by Karithina