Bonum Certa Men Certa

The Ongoing Evolutionary Process of News-Reading (or News-Finding) on the World Wide Web

posted by Roy Schestowitz on Feb 27, 2024,
updated Feb 27, 2024


THE earlier write-up concerning Google News merits further debate, a broader debate in terms of its scope. Geminispace is still very active, but the Web is rotting and many in the Gemini Protocol 'spheres' (Gemlogs) point that out. Every day we see rants about the Web. It has become rather unhealthy for individuals and for society (collectively).

Like many of my generation, we grew up 'gnawing' on physical newspapers and magazines in the late 80s and early/mid-nineties. It would take some time for these newspapers to maintain an equivalent online presence (hesitance was understandable when the Web was still young) and before Google a lot of people relied on Web directories, online hubs, and then Atom/RSS2, which geeks were fastest to adopt, embrace, and then spread through projects like Firefox (e.g. Live Bookmarks). I myself used RSSOwl, Thunderbird, QuiteRSS and several more programs to keep on top of news. Here in Techrights wrote several of our own RSS readers (yes, several! AGPLv3-licensed), especially last year. It's still work in progress in our self-hosted Git repository.

We nowadays see social control media reaching its final destiny of irreversible demise (Facebook losing active users and then rebranding the company, Reddit offloaded, Twitter perishing, Fediverse spammed, short videos in TikTok gaining while YouTube has mass layoffs).

Man Reading Newspaper Silhouette

No doubt the transition is very much real and is still happening. No, chatbots aren't replacing the Web. They're pure hype and we already see them publicly condemned for a lack of practical use cases and for severe inaccuracies, rendering them a liability to their user.

It seems safe to predict Google will partly phase out Google News. A few weeks ago in the local market they handed out leaflets to vendors, extending a "consultation" about fee hikes (rent going up). They presented this as a "consultation" to lessen the resistance and only gradually herald that it would happen regardless of the feedback. As one old vendor whom I overheard put it, and to paraphrase a little (from memory), "even if we all hired a solicitor to fight this, you'd still go ahead." So, with Google News, the idea of removing that "tab" is likely an inevitability. Curating today's Web for quality, including accuracy, isn't an easy task. Google fired many employees who did this. They're not being replaced.

We hope that manually (by "human operator") curation will be the way to go. We spend all day (and night), from dusk till dawn, trying to filter out nonsense including mindless PR. It's getting harder to do over time because the signal-to-noise ratio goes down, which means we discard more than 90% of what turns up (in some contexts).


Those in Gemini who express a longing for the "old" Web basically recall a Web where key participants were actual newsroom with decent budget for real journalism, not just "clickbait mills" like Buzzfeed, exploiting the flippant nature of social control media users.

More than 3 years ago (late 2020) we thought IPFS had promise; nowadays people mostly hear of IPFS in relation to cybercrime. For now we've temporarily suspended our participation in IPFS. There are legal hurdles to clear. To quote a report from last week:

The Interplanetary File System is known as a censorship-resistant technology. However, it's not immune to copyright holder complaints. When software company JetBrains warned an IPFS gateway operator that they are liable for the alleged availability of pirated keys, the Electronic Frontier Foundation stepped up in his defense. Liability questions are never straightforward, though.

With IPFS you can receive DMCA letters like the one below, even if you do not host any of that yourself and merely pass hashes around (passively). Almost nobody gets penalised for false DMCA requests.

DMCA letter

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