Note — Dec 08, 2019

A Better Internet Is Waiting for Us

Seen in → No.106

Source → nytimes.com/interactive/2019/11/30/opinion/...

For various communities, there’s an ongoing transition to smaller platforms and more private forums, where they can communicate away from the tsunami of information (and rage) of the Facebooks and Twitters. Yancey Strickler called it The Dark Forest Theory of the Internet. Now Annalee Newitz goes further, collecting various opinions and exploring a bit further down the timeline, “looking for a deeper future than the latest gadget cycle.” Which new forms of digital communication might be invented next? Generations who have lived their whole lives with the net might not have as positive an outlook as the current crop of tech barons, what will “internet realists” come up with? Perhaps Safiya Umoja Noble’s “slow media?”

[A] future where the greatest tragedy is not the loss of our privacy. It is the loss of an open public sphere. There are many paths beyond the social media hellscape, and all of them begin with reimagining what it means to build public spaces where people seek common ground. […]

What if future companies designed media to facilitate democracy right from the beginning? Is it possible to create a form of digital communication that promotes consensus-building and civil debate, rather than divisiveness and conspiracy theories? […]

Mr. Scalzi thinks we should turn the whole system on its head with “an intense emphasis on the value of curation.” It would be up to you to curate what you want to see. Your online profiles would begin with everything and everyone blocked by default. […]

After the social media age is over, we’ll have the opportunity to rebuild our damaged public sphere by creating digital public places that imitate actual town halls, concert venues and pedestrian-friendly sidewalks. These are places where people can socialize or debate with a large community, but they can do it anonymously. If they want to, they can just be faces in the crowd, not data streams loaded with personal information. […]

Slow, human-curated media would be a better reflection of how in-person communication works in a functioning democratic society.