The TextNet, a text-only portion of the internet. A new
.text TLD is
introduced. With a covenant that only plain text and HTML can be served from
Businesses or professionals, creating content for indirect benefits. This could include providing access to news in emergencies (for example when cell towers are overloaded, as text uses little bandwidth, and could still be loaded). For example, NPR and CNN take this approach. Here they do not benefit directly by providing ad-free articles. Rather they gain a reputation for being available even when a user can not load competitors’ sites. Professionals self-promoting also fall in this group. Such technical blogs are intended to develop a brand, and signal to employers that the professional is competent.
The other group would be those creating content for the joy of it. The medium of plaintext imposes a set of constraints that allows people to focus their creativity. Similar to using a reduced palette and canvas in pixel art, text forces one to focus on the content they produce, instead of the decoration that surrounds it. This category includes both art and technical writing on niche topics, such as programming for a Game Boy.
In effect, removing advertising as a form of funding content creation would disincentive the creation of low-quality content. In turn this increases the signal-to-noise ratio of the content.
Since plaintext is lightweight, the entirety of the TextNet could be save to a single thumb drive. While the sneakernet currently exists, being able to save a copy of everything would mean that any and all links within the content would work. This would allow for a more natural “exploration” of the internet by those without conventional access.
It is hard to know how a new, restricted medium would be treated. Especially when the goal of such a medium is to encourage the creativity that emerges from restriction. However I feel that such a medium would be a net positive to the world, allowing broader access to the internet, and renewed interest for those burnt out by the current madness.
Written Dec. 19, 2017