Note — Sep 26, 2021

The Word for Web Is Forest

Claire L. Evans for the newly launched New_ Public Magazine and their decentralization issue. A beautiful parallel between Suzanne Simard’s research and various discoveries concerning what others have dubbed the “wood wide web,” and our own planet-spanning network. As we understand more and more of the collaboration between trees, it would be a good idea to also use it as inspiration for the internet, to stop clear-cutting the network, to run away from mono-species culture, and to rewild the diversity of ways of being online.

[L]ike a struggling forest, the web is no longer healthy. It has been wounded and depleted in the pursuit of profit. Going online today is not an invigorating walk through a green woodland—it’s rush-hour traffic alongside a freeway median of diseased trees, littered with the detritus of late capitalism. […]

Tech and social media giants have clear-cut the web, privileging high-value crops—viral content, controversy, and clickbait—over a healthier ecosystem of people, opinions, and perspectives. […]

“[L]ibrarians are what the internet is aching for—people on task to care about the past, with respect to the past and also to what it shall bequeath to the future.” Can we reimagine libraries for the digital age?” […]

To build resilient decentralized networks, let us create “Mother nodes”—sites in the network bearing a responsibility of care. We’ve built institutions like these before: consider public libraries, which serve both as bearers of cultural memory and as generous sources of nutrients for our minds and communities.

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