I stumbled upon this writing from 1997 and was blown away by how relevant it still is... perhaps even more so now. While checking for dead links, I discovered that the website this was hosted on sadly vanished from the internet. Thankfully, I had the Wayback Machine archive the page as it appeared in 2019, because this is super important. You can see the archived page at this link, provided the archive service continues to operate. Everything below (and this page's background) is from the original site, as written by the author. I did not edit a single word.


----------

Saturday 1 February 1997
The Indie Web Manifesto
in english, par le minirézo

The indie web, it’s these thousands of websites delivering millions of pages, built up with passion, opinions and information by Net users assuming their rights as citizens. The indie web is a new type of link between people, it’s a free and open space of shared knowledge where vanity has no place.

While commercial websites display more and more agressive messages, target and track their users, the indie web respects the individuals, their intelligence and their privacy; it’s an open forum for thoughts and debate. While purely commercial websites turn into information and entertainment magazines, while tycoons of media, telecom, computing and military agencies fight for the control of the Internet, the indie web offers a free vision of the world, bypasses the economic censorship of news, its confusion with advertising and infommercial, its reduction to a dazing and manipulating entertainment.

Yet the existence of an independent and goodwill-based web is endangered: threatened by the never-ending technology race which makes the websites more difficult and expensive to set up, by the overwhelming commercial advertising pressure, and soon by dissymetric networks, Network Computers, proprietary networks, broadcasting, all aiming at the transformation of the citizen into a basic consumer. The computer press, so greedy for advertising coming from companies who make their profit out of the great wealth of the free indie web, is only fascinated by the technical and economical challenges of the Internet and has deliberatly decided to pass over its cultural dimension in the silence: magazines announce shortly the death of pioneer websites and basically never write more than a couple of lines about independent initiatives in comparison with the full-feature articles about any soap vendors new sites. According to them, creating one’s own site is a pathetic and secondary initiative compared to all the opportunities offered by online commerce.

We invite the users to realize the essential role they play on the Internet: when they start their own website, when they send comments, criticisms or warm letters to the webmasters, when they exchange tips and hints in the newsgroups or by e-mail, they provide an independent and free source of information that others would like to sell and control. Education, information, culture and debate can only come from users, independent webmasters, academic or associative organizations.