Aral’s been making things with computers for more years than the Web’s been around. Today he works at a not for profit based in Kilkenny, Ireland, building technology that protects human rights and democracy.
NewCrafts Paris 2023
Meow! An introduction to Small Web development using Kitten
The Big Web is the web of the Googles, the Facebooks, and the Twitters.
It is a world owned, controlled, and beholden to Silicon Valley billionaires and their trillion-dollar corporations.
On the Big Web, you do not own your own place, you rent it (usually in exchange for “consenting” to the violation of your privacy and other human rights).
Now image the exact opposite: A Small Web where you own and control your own place on the Internet.
Imagine a web site designed and built to serve just one person: you.
(As opposed to sites and apps that serve you to Silicon Valley corporations.)
Imagine, furthermore, that these sites (which we call “Small Web places”) make it as easy for you to be private as it is to be public. Image being able to follow the public posts of your friends and communicate with them privately using end-to-end encrypted messaging.
Finally, imagine that setting up such a Small Web place can be done by everyday people who use technology as an everyday thing without requiring any specialist technical knowledge to set up or maintain. (And that those who want to tinker a bit more can easily run their own Small Web place on a tiny single-board computer attached to their home router.)
To build such a fundamentally different web, we cannot use the servers and frameworks of the Big Web. They have the wrong success criteria (manipulating people for profit) and that’s reflected in their core assumptions (that servers will have thousands of “users”, for example) and in the resulting complexity. Servers and frameworks that Big Web companies make available are designed to perpetuate the Silicon Valley model.
That said, we also cannot (and don‘t need to) rebuild the entire stack from scratch.
What we need are tools designed with needs of the Small Web in mind while taking advantage of the fundamental building blocks of the Web that existed prior to – and apart from – Silicon Valley’s venture-capital-funded corruption of its early ideals.
Kitten is the one such tool that’s under development.
(Internally, Kitten’s runtime engine is Node.js so you can use all Node.js features and npm features but you don’t need to have Node.js installed on your system for it to work. It downloads its own Node.js binary at install time.)
Finally, Kitten is free and open source and being developed at Small Technology Foundation, a tiny two-person not-for-profit based in Ireland building everyday tools for everyday people designed to increase human welfare, not corporate profits.
In this talk, Aral will introduce the Small Web and show you how to create a basic Small Web site from scratch. If you have your laptop with you, feel free to follow along with the live coding demonstration.
Let’s roll up our sleeves and build a different kind of web: one that’s owned and controlled by people, not corporations; by you and me, not a handful of billionaires in Silicon Valley.
- What is the Small Web? (https://ar.al/2020/08/07/what-is-the-small-web/)
- Small Technology Foundation (https://small-tech.org)
- Kitten: https://codeberg.org/kitten/app
- JSDB: https://codeberg.org/small-tech/jsdb
- htmx: https://htmx.org/
- Alpine.js: https://alpinejs.dev/