Developing for the Fediverse, users complain about bugs in all kinds of obscure web browsers. As a developer, it's endlessly frustrating.
Why can't you just use a normal web browser like a normal person? Despite my efforts to bring normies to the Fediverse, the userbase is still primarily a bunch of nerds. Then they act like it's my fault they're using a web browser nobody's ever heard of.
Front-end development with Webpack, ServiceWorkers, intersection observers, and block formatting contexts, has become increasingly complicated. The driving force behind much of these efforts is Google. And as much as I hate big tech monopolies, it's really just easier when everyone uses their product (the open-source version, Chromium, of course).
Instead I get bug reports from users of Pale Moon, Bromite, and Brave. In theory these "just Chromium forks" should work, but they don't. Pale Moon borked my CSS, Bromite crashed my whole website, and Brave logged out all my users when it broke localStorage in an update. As a developer I wish we had more stability.
But freedom of choice is what made the web beautiful to begin with. It's what draws me to the Fediverse and compels me to keep building it every day. I realize that Fediverse users are attracted to alternative browsers for a reason.
The 2020 cryptocurrency boom lead me to take another look at Brave. Brave integrated Ethereum into the browser itself, and it will actually pay you to use the browser. This very scheme is what propelled PayPal into internet stardom.
As I used Brave, it started to become clear what their vision actually is. Anyone can start a website on the internet, but it costs money. Most websites eventually die, while a small few become extraordinarily rich. It's not because small websites don't provide value; it's because there are barriers to monetization.
The internet has a money problem, and Brave is trying to solve it. Brave allows you to send money to any website through the web browser. That's right, you can send money to a domain name. We're talking about recurring payments similar to Patreon, but through the browser itself. Website owners will have to go through Brave's centralized service to claim the donations, but it's a fantastic concept. Imagine being able to start a dinky homegrown website — like say, a Fediverse server — and having the hosting costs already covered just because enough Brave users visit your website.
In my 3 months of using Brave, I've received a little over $20. It's not a get rich quick scheme, but it's certainly not nothing. And I want to emphasize that if all my users used Brave, I would receive a lot more. Brave pays users to view unobtrusive ads, then automatically distributes a fraction of their earnings to the websites that user visits most. This means more Brave users = higher payouts to independent websites like mine.
The beauty of this model is that it's also sustainable for Brave. Brave makes money, users make money, independent websites make money, and everyone wins.
This is an incredible innovation, and it's not Brave's only one. They also have native support for websites served over IPFS, Tor, and even blockchain domains such as ENS (Ethereum Name Service). In the fight against online censorship, DNS is a squeaky wheel, and blockchain domains are the answer.
Brave is literally paving the way towards the future of the internet. The importance of blockchain domains cannot be overstated. It opens the door to a whole new online world where users are in control, but people simply cannot access it unless browsers add support. If Brave became the most popular web browser, the problem of DNS censorship would be solved almost overnight.
These are things Google cannot or will not support. It simply isn't in their business model. Our only hope for internet freedom is in alternative browsers like Brave. So while the bugs frustrate me, it is something I can accept. After all, the browser is literally paying me — a compromise for my patience. In the fight for internet freedom, it couldn't be more clear who is on our side.
So to all the alternate web browsers out there: fuck you, and I love you. My love far outweighs my frustration. So keep up the great work. You're our only hope!