Tag: social media (page 1 of 15)

Good ideas become colonised and domesticated

I’ve got this thought about how every good idea becomes colonised and domesticated. While domestication can be a good thing, because it potentially makes it more accessible to all, it also robs the idea of its radical, transformatory power.

Colonisation, however, is never a positive thing. It’s about renegotiating existing relationships, often through the lens of power, capital, and hegemonic power.

How related the above two paragraphs are to this article in The New Yorker is questionable. But, to me, it’s related. Centralised social media is colonised and domesticated.

Laptop with goo coming out

Once upon a time, the Internet was predicated on user-generated content. The hope was that ordinary people would take advantage of the Web’s low barrier for publishing to post great things, motivated simply by the joy of open communication. We know now that it didn’t quite pan out that way. User-generated GeoCities pages or blogs gave way to monetized content. Google made the Internet more easily searchable, but, in the early two-thousands, it also began selling ads and allowed other Web sites to easily incorporate its advertising modules. That business model is still what most of the Internet relies on today. Revenue comes not necessarily from the value of content itself but from its ability to attract attention, to get eyeballs on ads, which are most often bought and sold through corporations like Google and Facebook. The rise of social networks in the twenty-tens made this model only more dominant. Our digital posting became concentrated on a few all-encompassing platforms, which relied increasingly on algorithmic feeds. The result for users was more exposure but a loss of agency. We generated content for free, and then Facebook mined it for profit.

“Clickbait” has long been the term for misleading, shallow online articles that exist only to sell ads. But on today’s Internet the term could describe content across every field, from the unmarked ads on an influencer’s Instagram page to pseudonymous pop music designed to game the Spotify algorithm. Eichhorn uses the potent term “content capital”—a riff on Pierre Bourdieu’s “cultural capital”—to describe the way in which a fluency in posting online can determine the success, or even the existence, of an artist’s work. Where “cultural capital” describes how particular tastes and reference points confer status, “content capital” connotes an aptitude for creating the kind of ancillary content that the Internet feeds upon. Since so much audience attention is funnelled through social media, the most direct path to success is to cultivate a large digital following. “Cultural producers who, in the past, may have focused on writing books or producing films or making art must now also spend considerable time producing (or paying someone else to produce) content about themselves and their work,” Eichhorn writes. Pop stars log their daily routines on TikTok. Journalists spout banal opinions on Twitter. The best-selling Instapoet Rupi Kaur posts reels and photos of her typewritten poems. All are trapped by the daily pressure to produce ancillary content—memes, selfies, shitposts—to fill an endless void.

Source: How the Internet Turned Us Into Content Machines | The New Yorker

It’s time to accept that centralised social media won’t change

A great blog post by Chris Trottier about actually doing something about the problems with centralised social media, by refusing to be a part of it any more.

As an aside, once you see the problem with capitalism mediating every human relationship and interest, you can’t un-see it. For example, I’m extremely hostile to advertising. I really can’t stand it these days.

Centralized social media won’t change. No regulatory bodies are coming to the rescue. If you hang around Twitter or Facebook long enough, no benevolent CEO will sprinkle magic pixie dust to make it better.

Acceptance is no small thing. If you’ve spent years on a social network, investing in relationships, it’s hard to accept that all that effort was a waste. I’m not talking about the people you build friendships with, but the companies and services that connect you. Twitter and Facebook are the nuclear ooze of the Internet, and nothing’s going to make them better.

It’s time to let go. Toxic social media doesn’t care about you, it just wants to exploit you. To them, you’re inventory, a blip in a database.

[…]

Getting rid of toxic social media is about building a future without it. There’s thousands of developers working on an open web, all who are dedicated to building a better Internet. Still, if we want those walled gardens to be dismantled, we must let developers know it’s worth while to code an alternative.

Thus, it’s time to accept centralized social media for what it is: it is toxic and won’t change. Once you accept this, vote with your feet. Then vote with your wallet.

Source: What should we do about toxic social media? | Peerverse

Mainstream social media is a behaviour-modification system

A couple of years ago I would have said that this analogy of an atom bomb being exploded over our information ecosystem is a bit extreme. Not now.

I’ve said this over and over, that, really, this is like when 140,000 people died instantly in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The same thing has happened in our information ecosystem, but it is silent and it is insidious. This is what I said in the Nobel lecture: An atom bomb has exploded in our information ecosystem. And here’s the reason why. I peg it to when journalists lost the gatekeeping powers. I wish we still had the gatekeeping powers, but we don’t.

So what happened? Content creation was separated from distribution, and then the distribution had completely new rules that no one knew about. We experienced it in motion. And by 2018, MIT writes a paper that says that lies laced with anger and hate spread faster and further than facts. This is my 36th year as a journalist. I spent that entire time learning how to tell stories that will make you care. But when we’re up against lies, we just can’t win, because facts are really boring. Hard to capture your amygdala the way lies do.

[…]

Today we live in a behavior-modification system. The tech platforms that now distribute the news are actually biased against facts, and they’re biased against journalists. E. O. Wilson, who passed away in December, studied emergent behavior in ants. So think about emergent behavior in humans. He said the greatest crisis we face is our Paleolithic emotions, our medieval institutions, and our godlike technology. What travels faster and further? Hate. Anger. Conspiracy theories. Do you wonder why we have no shared space? I say this over and over. Without facts, you can’t have truth. Without truth, you can’t have trust. Without these, we have no shared space and democracy is a dream.

Source: Maria Ressa: How Disinformation Manipulates Elections | The Atlantic