The Web Revival

Directory of Community Web Revival Manifestos

The Web Revival is one name for a wider internet-based movement! The name itself is derived from the Folk Revival of the mid-20th century. The Folk Revival promoted a feeling of humanity, creativity and equality at a time of rapid mechanisation; whereas the Web Revival promotes these values in the face of the rapid digitisation that surrounds us today.

The Web Revival is about reclaiming the technology in our lives and asking what we really want from the tools we use, and the digital experiences we share. The Web Revival often references the early Internet, but it's not about recreating a bygone web; the Web Revival is about reviving the spirit of openness and fresh excitement that surrounded the Web in its earliest days.

The Web Revival is not one single movement, but a loose collection of ideas and groups that fall under many names, such as:

Some other names related to the Web Revival:

  • Wild Web - Punky freeform, zine crafting, art homepages and chaotic sites - Such as MelonLand
  • Net Positive - Sites focusing on whimsy, learning and encouragement such as 32bit Cafe
  • Smol / Small Web - This name is often favoured by minimalist sites such as m15o’s Status.Cafe
  • Indie / Open Web - Professional independently-run sites with a focus on free and open source code - Indie Web
  • Old / Retro / Web 1.0 - Retro enthusiast sites focused on supporting and using old hardware - The Old Net
  • Garden / Poetic Web - Sites focused on reflection, gathering thoughts and obscurity - Naive Weekly
  • Neocities - A brand name for the web hosting company and community that houses many Web Revival sites - Neocities
  • … and many others!

What ties it all together?

Web Revival enthusiasts come from all walks of life, however most share a few things in common:

  • Creativity is First- Most see the ability to design, decorate and graffiti digital spaces as essential and powerful
  • The Internet is Fun - Most want the Web to be a playground that's free to explore and enjoy
  • Corporations are Boring - Most are sick of the monetisation, data abuse and endless breaches of trust in corporate culture
  • The Web is Friendly - All feel that the Web should be friendly and supportive; caring is a radical act
  • Right to Repair - They value the freedom to make, break and repair their stuff - tinkering is a form of debate and protest
  • One World Wide Web - They want free open knowledge and global connectivity, without paywalls, bubbles or borders
  • Chaotic Effort - They believe that value comes from time and effort put into projects they love for no reason other than love
  • No to Web3 - To most, cryptocurrencies, NFTs, unfairly trained AIs and buzzword tech are unwelcome and uncool

These ideals are expressed by creating websites, zines, online spaces, video games, artworks, journals and much more!

Web Revivalists will often choose to use alternative technology and software in their lives, or to modify and remix the technology they find around them. Reusing obsolete things (like older digital cameras, mp3 players, site builders etc.), can be a form of environmental, anti-corperate and aesthetic rebellion.

The goal is to find what was best about the early web and what is best about new technologies and merge the two into a model for tomorrow; while kicking all the Zuckerberg's and Musk's to the curb so we can get on with our lives. The citizens of the web deserve more respect than to be boxed into cubicles, limited to 280 characters, studied and rebranded.

The Web Revival is about building a sense of mystery, humour, humility and optimism in technology. The Web Revival above all else values action; we avoid perfectionism because it limits action - the Web Revival encourages creating and sharing things, even if they are small, broken, incomplete and Warning Under Construction.

  • See Manifestos of the Web Revival - A list of personal essays by Web Revivalists!

History and Terms

The phrase “web revival” has evolved over many years. A variant of the term appears in Gizmodo's 2014 article about Neocities “The Great Web 1.0 Revival”. However, the modern meaning described here evolved as part of a group discussion that took place on the Yesterweb Discord server in 2021.

Prior to that terms such as “Bespoke Web”, “Indie Web” and simply “Neocities” were often used.

In 2021 due to the popularity of the Discord group, the term “Yesterweb” was frequently used to describe the wider web crafting community, however, some felt that it was inappropriate to overuse the Discord server name, particularly when talking about sites made by people who were not part of the discord server.

Web Revival was one suggestion that came about during that discussion; it was initially a play on the “Folk Revival” as described above, and it also included the suggestion that webmasters could be referred to as “Codeniks” after the 1960s “Beatnik” culture.

Initially, it was not a widely popular term; however, it was fully adopted by MelonLand in late 2021 and was further promoted in articles such as “What Is The Web Revival” in 2022. The Codeniks phrase was never adopted, but the Web Revival phrase eventually gained widespread use and has largely been the primary phrase as of 2023.