A Programmable IndieWeb

By Malcolm Blaney on
It's been a long time since we've had any new writing from Aaron Swartz, but a draft of a book has been released that he had worked on, called A Programmable Web.

There's a fair bit of sadness and nostalgia in reading this work, as Aaron had a characteristic writing style that many of us still miss. However it's also a fascinating read, as he introduces concepts of working with the web, building one idea on top of the next.

It also feels a bit like a snapshot of the time when he was writing. I wonder if he would still favor the particular technologies and development styles he writes about? Regardless of his personal development choices, I still think he would have seen the IndieWeb as having the hacker spirit he identified with. In fact, I think this book paints an alternate vision for what we would like to see the IndieWeb achieve.

The final page of the draft reads, "the Semantic Web is based on a bet, a bet that giving the world tools to easily collaborate and communicate will lead to possibilities so wonderful we can scarcely even imagine them right now. Sure, it sounds a little bit crazy. But it paid off the last time they made that gamble: we ended up with a little thing called the World Wide Web. Let's see if they can do that again."

It's a beautiful picture, but I wish Aaron had written we, instead of they, here. He wasn't the sort of guy who waited for others to get things done when it was within his own abilities. The Programmable Web will be built, and the tools for collaboration are being built using the process of collaboration itself.
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