Note — Nov 29, 2020

Civic Logic: Social Media with Opinion and Purpose

Ethan Zuckerman and Chand Rajendra-Nicolucci look at a number of social networks ordered around civic logics, their rules, success vs their goals, potential revenue models, and other avenues for reaching those goals, including a consideration of how some Reddit boards can be good examples of civic spaces and moderation. (We can also connect this to the “dark forest of the internet” trend of people drifting to smaller online spaces.)

But that’s really the point of networks that operate on civic logics. They’re not for everyone, not for every use case, but they provide critically important spaces for conversations that are difficult to hold elsewhere, and which make us richer and more resilient as a society. […]

vTaiwan uses upvotes and downvotes on posts to generate a map of the debate, creating clusters of people who voted similarly. The clusters show where there are divides and where there is consensus. People then try to draft comments that win upvotes from both sides of a divide, bringing them closer together. […]

But survival is a low bar to clear. The exciting possible future for civic-logic networks is that they become regarded as public goods—aspects of our social infrastructure that are so important that we choose to support them through taxpayer dollars or through community giving, the way we support libraries and public parks.