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Smallbytes is an entrypoint to the unadulterated web. It aggregates feeds from personal sites that fit in the ethos described below. This ethos overlaps with notions of the small web or indie web.

The pages in this feed deliver content efficiently and without any tricks. They will not ask you to agree to terms or extract profit from you. They keep alive the spirit of the early internet, before the wave of commercialism crashed over us. That spirit was about discovery, sharing ideas and information, and human connection.

The commercial web is not inherently bad, just like being a car salesman is not inherently bad. But no one wants to much spend time in a car lot around salespeople. We want to do our business and get out of there.

How do we “get out of there” on the commercial web? It’s all the big platforms. It’s all the top Google results. It can feel inescapable. We need more ways to find the personal, intimate, quirky corners of the web. Smallbytes is a humble experiment toward that end.

I would love your feedback! Please suggest more sources. Please tell me about other folks doing similar or better things. And please let me know if I’ve included anything that violates my standards below. I make mistakes! You can reach me at smallbytes [at] fastmail [dot] com.

The Ethos

No JavaScript

JavaScript has tremendous power on the web, and that power is often abused. JavaScript leads to some awful experiences and outcomes by powering tracking, advertisements, and bloat. JavaScript is arguably necessary for web applications, but unnecessary for personal websites like blogs.

Refusing JavaScript means that you can trust the links in this feed. The destination sites will not collect your personal information, spin your laptop’s fans, make hundreds of followup requests to a server, push content around the page as you try to click, pop a paywall, light up your ad blocker, and so on.

Refusing JavaScript means celebrating authors who put in the effort to their sites lean. Some of these authors are popular, and yet they resist the urge monetize their popularity. They are leaving money on the table for our benefit. Cheers to them!

Plenty of great sites make narrow, reasonable use of JavaScript. I’m torn about excluding them. But a no-JS rule is a lot easier to apply than a reasonable-JS rule, and the constraint will keep the feed slower and smaller.

No advertisements

Ads often create an obnoxious experience for the reader. Moreover, content written with a profit motive is arguably tainted.

We all need to make a living, and plenty of good people make a living by monetizing good content on the internet. But a profit motive leads to the ills of the modern web. Instead of worrying solely about the meaning of their content, profit-motivated authors have to worry about playing the game. The game involves placating SEO algorithms, racking up click counts, maximizing time on page, analyzing users, and targeting demographics.

If an author forgoes monetization, then they can focus solely on their message and human connection.

No extrinsic dopamine motive

This feed does not include content that allows comments, likes, click counts, or other Web-2.0-style reactions.

These fast-paced, realtime streams of responses are often unhealthy. They provide a dopamine drip that can be addictive. They encourage content written to provoke emotional responses rather than to convey meaning.

No scummy content

No hate speech or pro-hate authors. No disinformation or pro-disinformation authors. This is a pet project, not a free-speech platform.



It takes extra work to provide simple content these days. The easy way to get started is to sign onto a popular platform like Medium or Twitter. These platforms will accessorize your content with some combination of trackers, ads, and paywalls.

To provide unadulterated content, you need to be both tech savvy and willing to spend your free time on this particular concern. That doesn’t make for a very diverse crowd. The consequence is that this site’s feed will be disproportionately populated by nerdy white guys, like myself. I don’t like it, and I don’t know how to fix it.

At least, the impact here is small. I don’t know that anyone other than me will come here! And regardless, this site is not meant to be the solution. Rather, it’s a quiet statement in a noisy world. I hope smarter, more able people will build something more significant for us all.

Build cadence

This site is rebuilt a couple times a day. This is to discourage readers from checking back too often. Carve out some deliberate time for reading, and check it then. (I’m terrible at this, but I’m trying to get better!)