Monday, April 3, 2023

My paywall blocker


Internetland, myself included, has increasingly become aware of how genuinely terrible search engines have become. Aside from defaulting to bringing up either the same gigantic corporate websites, or ads, or thinly veiled ads, or the most generic possible information, or sites that have carefully manipulated the algorithms of the search engine to appear despite offering nothing of any value, or, usually, to some combination all of these all at once, today's search engines just seem really... dumb, blunt, cold, manipulated, and without nuance.

I was recently researching some... stuff for a blogpost I am writing about chat gpt and AI in general. There was only one mildly interesting result for my query. I'm not even sure if it was interesting, but it looked at least to be theoretically relevant. So I clicked on it and got...

A paywall.

And this got me thinking:

I know there are, and I have used, ad blockers, to access elements of the Internet without being overwhelmed by advertising, but what if I could turn off any, for example, paywalled content? When roaming the Internet The New York Times may as well be dead to me. And that thought was just the start. I would pay actual money for a search engine that worked for me. What if I could turn off not just paywalled sites, but anything that will make me sign up to access their content? What if I could turn off any sites that are over optimized, that is, that look like they are made too well to attract views? What if, at clicks of a button, I could turn off large websites, or how about for profit sites? I mean, this is just me brainstorming for three seconds, but the interesting possibilities of highly customizable search engines made for the user are vast. In fact, it's such a great idea I wonder if maybe it actually exists!

Too bad there's no way for me to ever find it.

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