The Internet's bright future?

Every year at LibrePlanet, there's a general feeling that things have never been worse for free software, and through certain lenses that could be true: our everyday technology is loaded with analytics and tracking, which are completely unnecessary to carry out simple tasks like reading your email. I yearn for simpler times too, when running a free email service was notable, when proprietary software was a more recognizable (less insidious) necessity, chalked up to artistic license. No one would complain that you need to reverse-engineer Spaceballs - State of the Art in order to remake its creation.

Should the government run our email, as a special branch of USPS? It makes me laugh to think about, but how else will any sort of unwritten rules like "try not to read everyone's email and make some weird data aggregate and send it around the Silicon Valley circuit" become written? What I mean is, I don't know if we'll be relying on good samaritans like Riseup and ProtonMail forever.

I learned web development in order to make a living, and the people leading the industry, at the cutting edge of new technologies, have the most resources, which were gained from business models that make me uncomfortable. Is that just how any industry works? Maybe I should've worked harder in school and been a scientist or something.

But maybe I shouldn't let all that affect me. Bryan Cantrill touched on this when Oracle bought Sun, "Stop anthropomorphizing the lawnmower". One way of looking at things is to let Facebook, Google, and Amazon be themselves, while taking advantage of any useful things that come out of them, like React and WebAssembly.

My recent post on programming languages suggests that new innovations can be reached within my current web development sandbox of JavaScript and Python. I might've just drank, not kool-aid, but a more watered down version of that. Because for the first time in a while, I'm interested in not just learning a new programming language, but taking it in a new direction that I haven't been before. I also want to learn new things, including new ways of developing applications. Database-driven web applications with the standard auth/user setup just seem clunky. I want to make things on a smaller scale, but that are more interesting: things on the Arduino or loosely coupled client-side applications.

The Foreword of The Rust Programming Language offers an overview for why Rust exists, and why it's interesting. My take is that it's a nice imperative language that aims to be useful in a range of domains, from user applications to lower-level systems. For another very indirect intro to Rust, watch Bryan Cantrill: The Summer of RUST.

So this was kind of an aimless blog post. But it's just a way to go through my thoughts over the end of this year.

In conclusion, I imagine a bright future for the Internet, filled with interesting communities inaccessible and removed from search engines, analytics, and the surveillance economy. So, I'll just retreat back to old-fashioned mailing lists and IRC rooms. And continue to read the Linux changelogs. I would love to finally learn how to do driver development.

I want to experiment with WebAssembly's virtual machine, because it's a moment that developers have been waiting for for a long time (well, with new, flawed solutions coming every so often, like JVM and Flash): a way to distribute applications over the web, without any sort of install required. Sure, JavaScript has come a long way with V8, but now we have complete flexibility of language: C, Rust, Haskell, who knows? And it's made possible with a cross-platform assembly language similar to or the LLVM IR, my sources of inspiration from years ago.