Instability


🔗 a linked post to robinrendle.com » — originally shared here on

The whole point of the web is that we’re not supposed to be dependent on any one company or person or community to make it all work and the only reason why we trusted Google is because the analytics money flowed in our direction. Now that it doesn’t, the whole internet feels unstable. As if all these websites and publishers had set up shop perilously on the edge of an active volcano.

But that instability was always there.

The only social network I post on anymore is LinkedIn. I have close to 2,000 followers there.

Lately, I’ve noticed that the “engagement” on my posts is increasingly sparse. Earlier this year, I was routinely seeing thousands of views per post. These days, I’m only seeing hundreds, and when it comes to sharing links to my newsletter, I’m seeing only dozens.

Meanwhile, here on my rag tag blog, I know my thoughts end up reaching people who matter the most to me.

It’s certainly less than the 2,000 people who follow me on LinkedIn, and substantially less than the tens of thousands of people a week who “engage” with my “content”1 there… but I don’t care.

By posting here, I’m taking the harder route of building an audience without the flashy shortcuts promised by platforms like LinkedIn and Google.

Whenever I try to take shortcuts and play SEO games, I end up doing things to my website which make it feel less authentic.

And these days, I find myself asking, “what exactly do I need to take a shortcut for?”

Robin also quotes this piece by Jeremy Keith where he discusses our need for human curation:

I want a web that empowers people to connect with other people they trust, without any intermediary gatekeepers.


The evangelists of large language models (who may coincidentally have invested heavily in the technology) like to proclaim that a slop-filled future is inevitable, as though we have no choice, as though we must simply accept enshittification as though it were a force of nature.

But we can always walk away.

It’s tough to walk away from the big tech companies, but I can assure you it is possible.

Facebook used to dominate my daily existence, but besides perhaps Marketplace for selling my junk, I do not miss any of Meta’s properties since I left several years back.

Google was my portal to my email, search, and maps for years. In the past few years, I have switched to primarily using Fastmail, Ecosia, and Apple Maps. Here in 2024, they all work well.2

I do my best to avoid ordering stuff off of Amazon, and I hardly stream anything on Netflix anymore.3

I haven’t made the move over to the Light Phone yet, and I find it hard to believe that I’ll give up my Apple Watch, Apple TV, or iPad/Macs… but I do find myself questioning the prolific presence of Apple in my life more often than I did, say, ten years ago.

As I continue to experiment with LLMs, I’ve noticed that the locally-run, open source models getting closer to the performance you see in closed source models like GPT-4o and Claude Sonnet 3.5 Sonnet. It’s only a matter of time that they’re good enough to do the tasks that I find myself turning to ChatGPT to complete today.

Enshittification isn’t inevitable. Like depression, it’s an indicator that something in your digital life needs to change.


  1. Sorry for the obnoxious emphasis on terms like “engagement” and “content”… I’ve reached a point where I feel like those words are meaningless. A lot of the themes of this post can be summed up with trust, and in order to accurately engagement, you have to trust that the metrics provided by the platform vendor are accurate (which I do not). And calling our collective knowledge “content” as though it’s the equivalent of feed for the cattle also upsets me.  

  2. Ecosia’s results are powered by Bing, which traditionally haven’t been that great, but I just consider this to be a benefit of Google’s results becoming terrible. Now both search engines return subpar results, and by using Ecosia, I am helping to plant trees. It ain’t much, but it’s honest work

  3. The last couple weeks have seen my most Netflix action in years, because I did watch Muscles & Mayhem, the American Gladiators documentary, on Netflix last week, and I do highly recommend it. I’m also gonna give the Tour de France documentary a shot as well. 

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