Imagine the web if we didn't need to use Google to get around and find things. What if the web stayed as large as it is but felt smaller, more local, more personal?
Well, in the early days of the web that's just what it was like. People used webrings to traverse websites and find what they wanted. Webrings let people bounce across websites in a particular group or category without the need for a search engine to collect them all.
Webrings would spin up and function as simple search engines. Some would spin up to connect a group of friends. Others would spin up to connect people with a common interest or characteristic. For example, the Indie Webring connects together websites that are run by individuals, in the spirit of the indieweb movement.
You may now see the similarity between a webring and a Facebook group, a Twitter list, or a Discord group. That's because these webrings were some of the earliest forms of social connection on the web beyond an occasional link to another website. These webrings were oftentimes very decentralized and local: they expressed community as we know it. People would regularly split off and join or make another webring if there were disputes or simple changes in interests.
And maybe that's just what we need nowadays. Amidst the growing fatigue and distrust for large tech companies and their products, perhaps we should webrings back, or at least some spiritual successor with a new "brand".
Bracelets: A Successor to the Webring
A bracelet is the same thing as a webring. What's the difference? Not much, only the name really. With a bracelet, each website is a charm, and the more charms there are in a bracelet, the more personality it has and interesting it can be. Maybe charms can be in multiple bracelets and form some kind of chain.
Regardless, we should bring webrings back, and we can call them bracelets once they return. It'd be so refreshing to see people have real fun online again.