Welcome To The New Internet: Simple Design, Short Names, No Ads

A flood of minimalist sites and services hints at a stripped down future for the internet. Web 4.0 doesn't have any ads.

There's Svbtle, a Stripped-Down Blogging Platform

Branch, a Free-Floating Comment/Discussion System

Medium, A Minimalist "Publishing Platform"

App.net, An Infrastructure-Level Version of Twitter

In recent months, at least four of the most interesting new startups — all either from or backed by people with deep roots in the current internet, including Twitter cofounders and many of the most prominent VCs in Silicon Valley — have been launched to, in some way, replace the internet. Not add to it, or change some part. These sites want to fix the whole thing: to remake comments, content, and updates with little to no encumbrance from the current web.

Most notably, perhaps, they're free of ads. This isn't at all unusual for a launch product; most of the major sites we use today, such as Facebook and Twitter, started without ads. But these sites seem intrinsically and even philosophically opposed to advertising. Where would an ad go on Svtble? Medium? Branch? App.net was founded on an anti-ad platform, from which it raised nearly a million dollars with a Kickstarter-style campaign:

App.net is a different kind of social platform.
We're building a real-time social service where users and developers come first, not advertisers...

We believe that advertising-supported social services are so consistently and inextricably at odds with the interests of users and developers that something must be done.

So this is one, if not the, vision for the future of the internet, and a lot of people are dedicated to making it catch on. It's an internet where every blog is Daring Fireball, where every post looks like Instapaper, where every discussion is led by its rightful leaders, and where ads are considered no better than spam. It's barren but design-forward, and, at least at the moment, kind of elitist. It's not clear how it'll make money. Maybe it won't! Maybe that's part of the idea.

But in any case, it's starting to take shape.

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