Announcing Good Reports, a new review site
By Mark Hurst • October 29, 2020
I'm pleased to announce my launch of a new site: Good Reports.
The site - at goodreports.com - lists non-toxic online products and services. I created it, in part, to help answer the questions I often get about internet tools: what, exactly, are the viable alternatives to exploitative Big Tech services? People occasionally ask about a better email service or a better web browser, for example. Good Reports is a single place I can point people to, even as I continue to maintain and grow the knowledge base.
It's interesting, and a little strange, that there's no well-known site for online service reviews. There are review sites for appliances (refrigerators, toaster ovens), for travel (hotels and other pre-Covid destinations), and for gadgets (routers and such). But none for online tools.
One barrier to creating something like Good Reports is that, inevitably, you have to advise against using Big Tech services. There are good, non-toxic tools out there, and they're all opposed to what Silicon Valley is doing. Maintaining integrity on a review site thus requires swearing off any revenue from the Big Tech platforms. No Google ads, no Amazon affiliate links, no sponsorship or underwriting from any of the giants.
And that's why I think we haven't seen a great review site for online tools yet. The companies that could have created the site tend to be financially dependent on Big Tech (or the adtech ecosystem, which is run by Big Tech). They simply can't afford to speak out against what's happening online.
I realized recently, though, that I can create that site. Having been on the web since it launched - and running Creative Good since 1997, advising teams on how to create better products - I've been here from the beginning. More recently, I've conducted over 150 interviews on my radio show Techtonic on how tech is affecting us. Add to that the dozens of books and thousands and thousands of articles I've read, and I can confidently state that I know the tech landscape, inside and out.
What's more, I find that I'm driven forward by two inescapable conclusions:
1. The way Big Tech products and services operate is wrong - ethically, morally, and spiritually. Silicon Valley has created a bankrupt and unsustainable system based on exploiting users and their communities, all in service of the cancerous goal of "growth at any cost." The only morally defensible response is to actively resist this system.
2. There are thousands of developers, designers, and product teams working to create non-toxic alternatives to Big Tech tools. Refusing all revenue from Silicon Valley, deliberately avoiding any connection with Big Tech platforms, these teams create products that actually treat users with respect, creating some good or useful experience without relying on deception or exploitation.
The challenge is awareness: the teams doing good work, creating good products, often struggle because no one knows about them. Big Tech's chokehold on media (both mainstream and social media) naturally prevents the word from getting out. An independent site, however, can spread the word about these tools. And that's my goal for Good Reports: providing users with a list of good tools, and giving exposure to the product teams that deserve it.
And I'll be completely upfront about who's funding the site: it's you. In order to maintain integrity, the site has to refuse all funding except from the users who benefit from it. So you'll see donation links on the bottom of every page, and a Donate link on the nav bar. If enough funding comes in, I'll be able to continue to maintain, and expand, the coverage on the site.
But first, I hope you'll take a look at the initial recommendations. My greatest wish, for Good Reports, is that this helps in some way to chip away at the unjust structure that occupies the internet today - all while we encourage and support those teams that are building a new, and better, landscape of online tools.
Good Reports sections:
I can only hope that Doug Engelbart would be proud. Once upon a time, tech brought surprise and delight. Let's bring it back.
Until next time,
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