I agree with Chris’ summation and wish there would have been some more positive “gee wiz” in the piece.
The likely missed subtext here though is that the author is a computer science professor so avowedly anti-social media that he doesn’t have accounts of his own, and he has actually written a book about digital minimalism. From this perspective, this generally positive review of the IndieWeb in The New Yorker reads as positively scintillating!
It also bears pointing out that Cal Newport, the author of the piece, has both his own domain name and his own website which he uses as his primary identity on the web. He also uses it as the cornerstone of all of his web communication, so he’s as solidly in the IndieWeb camp as one could want from the perspective of the most simplistic definition.
I would love to see a journalist (rather than an essayist) who follows social and Internet culture more closely and intelligently (Taylor Lorenz for example?) who wanted to cover something more positive within the interwebz than the scandal-of-the-day at Instagram, Facebook, add silo-of-your-choice-here to direct a more balanced eye on the topic of how the IndieWeb community is looking to reshape the web. I suppose the benefit and the curse of a decentralized, non-corporate web movement is that it’s got to be heavily reliant on slow, steady growth with only the best of earned media. In some sense it’s nice being the under-the-radar internet version of Coachella circa ’99-’06 rather than the 2019 Coachella where everyone only cares about Beyoncé.
We’re obviously on the right track. Thankfully companies like Micro.blog have got a good start on mainstreaming some of our ideas in an ethical way. Keep up the good fight gang!
I’m still waiting for the thousands of app developers who were burned by Twitter to discover the ideas of Micropub or Microsub and rebuild those clients with it. Or the hundreds of second tier social apps (great unitaskers like SoundCloud as an example) that either just aren’t getting as much traction with Facebook, et al. or are worried about being put out of business by them that could be more IndieWeb friendly and benefit greatly from it.