Cable companies centralized the web

Centralization of the web happened in the home, and cable companies were at the helm. Now it's a little harder for would-be website owners to get set up due in part, to corporate interests.

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In 2004 I hosted my website and email from my house. I had DSL with Qwest and as far as I know they had zero problems with the whole thing. I built my own blog and owned every scrap of data I generated. I was happy.

Later on I moved into a new house and had to switch to cable Internet with Cox. That’s cool, because faster Internet, but they block all the ports you need to be self-sufficient. Unable to continue doing it myself, I signed up with Dreamhost, migrated to Wordpress, and pretty much stayed there until 2013.

And that’s how it happened1: those of us who were savvy enough to run our own sites were eventually herded2 into The Centralized Web. Those who weren’t, sealed the deal by virtue of ignorance.3 All because the cable companies decided to block port 80.4

To illustrate my hypothesis, lets pretend that the cable companies never started doing that; nerds world-wide can set up servers in their closets and serve their sites to the masses; unfettered access is given to the Internet tubes and we are all happy.

Circa 2004, it would have been too hard for Joe Shmoe to register a domain, set up a web server, and install some blogging software on the damn thing. Fast forward to real-life 2014, however, and things are completely different. Domain name registration is easier than ever. We have the Internet of Things.

Our refrigerators and thermostats can connect to the web with nothing more than a wireless password and an email address; We can stream HD movies through little hockey pucks with less effort than it takes to buy a hamburger; websites can be hosted from your desk.

With no blocked ports I could pre-install everything you would need to serve up a website, just like our little video puck. It could run entirely on open source software. All your data could be right there in your living room, in your control. Literally anyone and everyone could have a website, in perpetuity, without any technical knowledge. The web would be truly decentralized.

Now wouldn’t that be nice?


  1. IMO [return]
  2. Sometimes willingly, Hey look! Faster Internet on cable! [return]
  3. Implied consent that they didn’t care about hosting a website [return]
  4. And 8080, and 443, and 25, and 110, and on and on… [return]