Tag: social networking (page 1 of 7)

Convivial social networking

Adam Greenfield composed a thread this morning on Mastodon in which he referenced Ivan Illich’s call for conviviality. This was also referenced in a post by Audrey Watters which was shared a few minutes later in my timeline by Aaron Davis.

Such synchronicity is, of course, entirely random but meshed well with my state of mind this morning. I find it interesting that Audrey thinks it’s ridiculous to think that Mastodon is “what’s next” and instead looks to email. For what it’s worth, I see the Fediverse as being a lot like email, actually.

Given that she’s got a brain and experience several times the size of mine, I’d love it if she wrote more about this…

It’s easy to look at the world right now and focus on the shit… The Republican takeover of the House. The economy. The way my body feels after running 6.85 miles on Sunday morning and then sitting in the car for 2+ hours on the drive home. The implosion of Twitter. The ridiculousness of suggesting Mastodon is “what’s next.” And so on. I mean, I have lots of thoughts on all of these, particularly the Twitter and Mastodon brouhaha. I read an email newsletter that referenced a Twitter thread in which Alexis Madrigal argued that Twitter, at least in its original manifestation, was for “word people.” I quite like that framework, and it’s helpful in showcasing how Facebook and now TikTok really would rather the ascendant influencers be picture people. TV people, even. It’s time to pull out ‘Tools for Conviviality’, perhaps, for a re-read, because I’m loathe to make the argument that email is, in fact, where we find technological conviviality these days. But that’s the direction I’m considering taking the argument. If I were to write about it and think about it more, that is.

Source: The Week in Review: What’s Good | Audrey Watters

Mourning what we’ve lost

I found this an eloquent explanation of emotions and feelings I’ve experienced over the last couple of weeks as the Fediverse has been ‘invaded’ by people considering themselves ‘refugees’ from Twitter.

As Hugh Rundle points out in this post, some of us have already mourned what we’d lost with Twitter and had made our home in a comfy, homely new place. There were rules, both implicit and explicit, about how to behave, but now…

For those of us who have been using Mastodon for a while (I started my own Mastodon server 4 years ago), this week has been overwhelming. I’ve been thinking of metaphors to try to understand why I’ve found it so upsetting. This is supposed to be what we wanted, right? Yet it feels like something else. Like when you’re sitting in a quiet carriage softly chatting with a couple of friends and then an entire platform of football fans get on at Jolimont Station after their team lost. They don’t usually catch trains and don’t know the protocol. They assume everyone on the train was at the game or at least follows football. They crowd the doors and complain about the seat configuration.

It’s not entirely the Twitter people’s fault. They’ve been taught to behave in certain ways. To chase likes and retweets/boosts. To promote themselves. To perform. All of that sort of thing is anathema to most of the people who were on Mastodon a week ago. It was part of the reason many moved to Mastodon in the first place. This means there’s been a jarring culture clash all week as a huge murmuration of tweeters descended onto Mastodon in ever increasing waves each day. To the Twitter people it feels like a confusing new world, whilst they mourn their old life on Twitter. They call themselves “refugees”, but to the Mastodon locals it feels like a busload of Kontiki tourists just arrived, blundering around yelling at each other and complaining that they don’t know how to order room service. We also mourn the world we’re losing.

[…]

I was a reasonably early user of Twitter, just as I was a reasonably early user of Mastodon. I’ve met some of my firmest friends through Twitter, and it helped to shape my career opportunities. So I understand and empathise with those who have been mourning the experience they’ve had on Twitter — a life they know is now over. But Twitter has slowly been rotting for years — I went through that grieving process myself a couple of years ago and frankly don’t really understand what’s so different now compared to two weeks ago.

There’s another, smaller group of people mourning a social media experience that was destroyed this week — the people who were active on Mastodon and the broader fediverse prior to November 2022. The nightclub has a new brash owner, and the dancefloor has emptied. People are pouring in to the quiet houseparty around the corner, cocktails still in hand, demanding that the music be turned up, walking mud into the carpet, and yelling over the top of the quiet conversation.

All of us lost something this week. It’s ok to mourn it.

Source: Home invasion | Hugh Rundle

Image: Joshua Sukoff

An anarchist take on the Twitter acquisition

I’m quoting this liberally, as it’s excellent. I was on Twitter from almost when it began in January 2007 through to late 2021 and the journey from protest tool to toy of plutocrats has been brutal.

What if Trump had been able to make common cause with a critical mass of Silicon Valley billionaires? Would things have turned out differently? This is an important question, because the three-sided conflict between nationalists, neoliberals, and participatory social movements is not over.

To put this in vulgar dialectical terms:

  • Thesis: Trump’s effort to consolidate an authoritarian nationalism
  • Antithesis: opposition from neoliberal tycoons in Silicon Valley
  • Synthesis: Elon Musk buys Twitter

Understood thus, Musk’s acquisition of Twitter is not just the whim of an individual plutocrat—it is also a step towards resolving some of the contradictions within the capitalist class, the better to establish a unified front against workers and everyone else on the receiving end of the violence of the capitalist system. Whatever changes Musk introduces, they will surely reflect his class interests as the world’s richest man.

[…]

[I]nnovative models do not necessarily emerge from the commercial entrepreneurism of the Great Men of history and economics. More often, they emerge in the course of collective efforts to solve one of the problems created by the capitalist order. Resistance is the motor of history. Afterwards, opportunists like Musk use the outsize economic leverage that a profit-driven market grants them to buy up new technologies and turn them definitively against the movements and milieux that originally produced them.

[…]

Musk claims that his goal is to open up the platform for a wider range of speech. In practice, there is no such thing as “free speech” in its pure form—every decision that can shape the conditions of dialogue inevitably has implications regarding who can participate, who can be heard, and what can be said. For all we might say against them, the previous content moderators of Twitter did not prevent the platform from serving grassroots movements. We have yet to see whether Musk will intentionally target activists and organizers or simply permit reactionaries to do so on a crowdsourced basis, but it would be extremely naïve to take him at his word that his goal is to make Twitter more open.

[…]

Effectively, Musk’s acquisition of Twitter returns us to the 1980s, when the chief communications media were entirely controlled by big corporations. The difference is that today’s technologies are participatory rather than unidirectional: rather than simply seeing newscasters and celebrities, users see representations of each other, carefully curated by those who run the platforms. If anything, this makes the pretensions of social media to represent the wishes of society as a whole more insidiously persuasive than the spectacles of network television could ever be.

[…]

It’s you against the billionaires. At their disposal, they have all the wealth and power of the most formidable empire in the history of the solar system. All you have going for you is your own ingenuity, the solidarity of your comrades, and the desperation of millions like you. The billionaires succeed by concentrating power in their own hands at everyone else’s expense. For you to succeed, you must demonstrate ways that everyone can become more powerful. Two principles confront each other in this contest: on one side, individual aggrandizement at the expense of all living things; on the other, the potential of the individual to increase the self-determination of all human beings, all living creatures.

Source: The Billionaire and the Anarchists: Tracing Twitter from Its Roots as a Protest Tool to Elon Musk’s Acquisition | CrimethInc