Replied to

Ian, these pieces might be of interest to you and the Screentime Research Group.

I guess it adds to the evidence why social media has not destroyed a generation.

Bookmarked An Appeal for Friction Writing (THR Blog)

Our writing process lacks sufficient resistance, hesitation, reconsideration.

Richard Hughes Gibson pushes back on the frictionless experience to help foster clearer judgement.

My case for friction in writing (particularly writing on the Internet) echoes and amplifies Kosslyn’s concern that frictionless design is partly to blame for the rapid spread of misinformation. When writing meets no impediments, we can easily become links in a chain through which misinformation spreads. Yet my appeal for friction writing goes to something even more basic: When you encounter (and pay heed to) resistance in your writing, you have the chance to change not only your words but also your mind—and even to consider whether you need to be writing something at all, or at least at this moment.

Borrowing from Georg Christoph Lichtenberg he talks about the power and potential of the waste book. This allows us to write more and share better.

This touches on Ian O’Byrne’s discussion of thinking twice before sharing that hot take:

I’d urge you to focus on first doing the work yourself before you move to the local context. Read up. Problematize your perspectives. Question your assumptions and biases. Listen to others.

Personally, I find sharing first in my own space before sharing elsewhere builds in a healthy level of friction. This also reminds me of Clay Shirky’s discussion of junking perfectly good workflows to maintain attention.

At the end of every year, I junk a lot of perfectly good habits in favor of awkward new ones.

Some of those changes stick, most don’t, but since every tool switch involves a period of disorientation and sub-optimal use, I have to make myself be willing to bang around with things I don’t understand until I do understand them. This is the opposite of a dream setup; the thing I can least afford is to get things working so perfectly that I don’t notice what’s changing in the environment anymore.

“Snakes & Ladders” in Murmurations, Months, Masters • Buttondown ()

Replied to Before You Post That Hot Take by Sign in – Google Accounts (W. Ian O’Byrne)

I understand your rationale for wanting to post that hot take. You’re excited, upset, and want attention. It is a normal human reaction to want to exhale, scream, or preach.

I often have those same feelings. I’m a digitally native scholar. I think of about 25 things a day that I want to tweet, write, or comment. Several times a day I write, revise, write, revise, and then ultimately delete messages that I’d like to send.

I ultimately delete these messages because I’ve learned (and continue to learn) the hard lesson that nothing good happens when my ego and emotion take control. I feel the same way when I watch friends and family post something online and think to myself…that’s not going to age well.

I’d urge you to focus on first doing the work yourself before you move to the local context. Read up. Problematize your perspectives. Question your assumptions and biases. Listen to others.

I have thought about this for a while Ian. I wrote a piece a few years ago about the problems of sharing.

A step beyond sharing a tweet is posting a comment. I am not sure if it is the effort involved or the process behind it, but I have always valued a comment more than a tweet. In recent times, this has included posting comments from my own site (where applicable) or pasting in.

However, I much prefer how you capture it so much better.

My current workflow involves composing on my own site before syndicating elsewhere. Not ideal, but I find this friction builds in the space for reflection that does not necessarily exist when engaging via an app.

Replied to 2 week social media vacation (daily-ink.davidtruss.com)

I actually deleted the Apps Sunday night, and I wrote everything above before going to bed. This morning I realized that one thing I’ll need to think about is how I get news? Normally I start my day in Twitter Search looking at the News tab and trending hashtags to get a sense of what’s happening in the world. This has been my strategy for a couple years because television and radio news are not designed to inform as much as to keep you watching and listening. And while I read some print news on my phone, it tends to be focussed on the coronavirus or US politics these days… and it seems to be more commentary and opinion than actual news.

I always find social media vacations intriguing, especially about what is particularly gained. I was particularly taken by the fact that you are only doing it out of curiousity.

There is no specific reason I’m doing this, other than curiosity. I want to see what I miss, and how I will use my time. I think I’ll end up with more audio book and podcast listening time, and I’m hoping that I’ll write and meditate more. Time will tell.

I was really interested in how you start your day in the Twitter Search. Personally, I follow Twitter via a feed in Inoreader. This kind of feels like a semi-vacation, especially when you have the shock when opening the app again for whatever reason. You kind of forget about the additional features and functions that you miss out on. I certainly do not post information as much as I used to.

Bookmarked The Pro-Trump Mob Was Doing It For The Gram by Elamin Abdelmahmoud (BuzzFeed News)

As a coup, the actions of the mob were a failure. In the wee hours of the morning, Joe Biden was once again declared the winner of the 2020 election. They didn’t stop shit. But as fodder for content, Jan. 6 was a resounding success.

Elamin Abdelmahmoud argues that the coup was simply about capturing attention.

You can see this most clearly in this photo, where the man in the god-knows-what costume, Jake Angeli, the so-called QAnon Shaman, is posing on the dais of the Senate, his friends carefully framing him to get the perfect shot. It is the Trump supporter equivalent of an Instagram influencer getting a photo beside a perfect mural.

Mike Caulfield takes this further, wondering if this is more than just confirmation bias, but rather a case of brand building?

can we really say the motivation is as simple as “confirmation bias”? Or would we be better off thinking of these dynamics around issues of personal brand-building, its incentives and disincentives?

Replied to

Dean, I really appreciate your attempt at balance, even if I do not really like golf. (Can’t agree on everything😜)

This seems like the sort of topic that one might blog about? Here was my attempt:

My fast food social media diet has been replaced by one managed around blogs, feeds and comments. I do sometimes feel I miss out on some things, but trust that if I need to know something that I will probably capture through some other means.

Bookmarked Social Networking 2.0 (Stratechery by Ben Thompson)

Facebook and Twitter represent the v1 of Social Networking; it’s a bad copy of the analog world, whereas v2 is something unique to digital, and a lot more promising.

Ben Thompson discusses the evolution of online identity from a mirror of offline reality to an existence that is only possible online. He describes this transition as a move from social networking 1.0 to social networking 2.0.

To the extent that v2 social networking allows people to be themselves in all the different ways they wish to be, the more likely it is they become close to people who see other parts of the world in ways that differ from their own. Critically, though, unlike Facebook or Twitter, that exposure happens in an environment of trust that encourages understanding, not posturing.

It is interesting to think of alongside Ian O’Byrne’s discussion of building up your digital identity and Kin Lane’s exploration of personal API’s. It also seems in opposition to Dave Eggars’ TruYou. I wonder what this means for the notion of a ‘canonical’ self?

Replied to No more performative professionalism by Doug Belshaw (Open Thinkering)

It would be disingenuous for me to say that I don’t find LinkedIn handy for some things. I’ve discovered opportunities through the platform, made connections with people, and found out genuinely useful information.

But what makes me a little sad inside is that the whole thing is built on the assumption that capitalist competition is a good thing. It’s predicated on celebrating spurious awards that people and organisations have (often) paid to be in the running for. And, to be honest, the performative professionalism highlighted by Adegbuyi makes the whole thing a bit cringey.

I have never really gotten into LinkedIn. It has never really worked for me.

What is sad is that I see people move their writing output there, when they had a perfectly good blog. Although the same could be said about Substack too.

I am intrigued by the the notion of a hostage situation and wonder if this is the end game for all the platforms? I feel that this is Cory Doctorow’s point about adversarial interoperability?

Bookmarked What if Social Media Worked More Like Email? (knightcolumbia.org)

Using our axes, we can analyze what makes decentralized logic distinct:

  • Technology — decentralized
  • Revenue model — donations/subscriptions
  • Ideology — autonomy, privacy for everyone
  • Governance — community
  • Affordances — varied
Ethan Zuckerman and Chand Rajendra-Nicolucci explore the possibilities of decentralised models to respond to social media, especially in regards to the challenges of moderation.

Decentralizing governance means that a diverse array of communities with different norms and standards can arise. For example, Mastodon is home to instances with strict harassment policies while also being home to the instance that hosts the vitriolic and far-right Gab. This is sustainable because users and servers can choose who to connect with. So, when Gab forked Mastodon or ISIS recruiters joined Diaspora, most servers simply blocked all content originating from the offending servers and accounts. Gab users can see their server and the few that are willing to federate with it; the rest of the Mastodon universe has functionally closed themselves down to Gab and its content.

via Chris Aldrich

Bookmarked Webring History: Social Media Before Social Media (Tedium: The Dull Side of the Internet.)

How the webring became the grassroots tool of choice for sharing content online in the ‘90s. The concept was social media before media was social.

Ernie Smith provides a history associated with webrings.

Structurally, a webring has many parallels to the modern-day Twitter quote-tweet chain, a Russian nesting doll of sorts in which you’re encouraged to keep clicking on the tweets being quoted, with no end in sight. Depending on what you’re up to at the time, it’s a novel, entertaining, somewhat curated experience.

Smith discusses the pioneering work of Sage Weil, as well as the association with Bomis, the website that led to the development of Wikipedia.

In some ways, Wikipedia’s success as a concept benefited from the same feedback-loop dynamics that a webring does. It’s a site that rewards clicking, and becomes more valuable the further down the rabbit hole you go. It becomes like a game, almost. That, in its own way, is a dynamic that Wikipedia borrowed from Bomis and other webring-driven networks.

This is a useful piece alongside Charlie Owen’s more technical examination.

Liked Why Twitter is (Epistemically) Better Than Facebook (logically.ai)

Design can’t solve all of our problems. Users still need to decide to make good use of the tools available to them. But as we spend more time on social media platforms, it’s important to recognize the strengths of their effects on us. Platforms can mimic and codify the limitations of our offline epistemic environments by only connecting us with people we already know (and giving us the option to filter them out when it’s uncomfortable). Or they can encourage productive epistemic friction by pushing us to consider who to engage with, what topics to avoid, and for how long, so that we consciously shape our own epistemic environments.

Replied to https://boffosocko.com/2020/11/23/55781499/ by Chris AldrichChris Aldrich (boffosocko.com)

Zuckerman and Rajendra-Nicolucci have an interesting looking research project here that aims to look at means of potentially providing more civic-minded social media. 
I thought I’d take a short stab at beginning a conversation on this front as it’s an important topic that is near and dear to m…

Chris, I always enjoy the way you are able to so succinctly explain the benefits of the IndieWeb.
Bookmarked Here come the maid boys nyaaaa ლ(=ↀωↀ=)ლ by Ryan Broderick (Garbage Day)

Social media is a video game and Parler is a map without enemies to defeat. So, no, Parler will not catch on. Just as Gab never caught on. But we can let these miserable con artists pretend for a while! See you guys when we all migrate to the next free speech platform.

Ryan Broderick talks about the move of the right to Parler and suggests that there is no ‘Other to demonize’, therefore it will not last. This reminds me of comment from Tom Chatfield on RN Future Tense podcast.

via Alex Hern

Liked Donald Trump’s tumultuous presidency has never made me laugh by Virginia Trioli (ABC News)

We are witnessing one of the most important battles of our times: not just the electoral one, but the battle between the power and importance of our institutions and of facts, and the self-interested misrepresentation of the truth.

The skirmishes are without precedent. Television networks actually took down and cut the feed of a US President as he gave a speech of countless untruths. Twitter now routinely deletes his tweets. Social media platforms suspend the accounts of his high-profile surrogates.

This is a moment of reckoning, the first time that a civil society has genuinely asserted itself over the jungle of social media and the ecosystem in which Trump has thrived and that he has so effectively used.

Bookmarked More than tools: who is responsible for the social dilemma? (Social Media Collective)

It is necessary to re-frame social media as something more than a mere “tool”. Rather than simply leave it to former tech industry insiders to spell out the ills of social media in documentaries like The Social Dilemma, we must engage with thinkers from a diverse range of backgrounds to look to the historical conditions of social media’s origins, while always questioning the economics and cultural politics of its global dissemination. We must personally examine how our own thoughts and actions are subtly shaped by social media’s design, while taking time to listen to marginalized individuals and communities who are impacted the most by the violence produced through social media today. And by seeing technology as a relation, by sharing responsibility in this way, we lift the burden of fixing the problem from the individual user alone, and discard the moralizing discourses such a burden brings.

Niall Docherty pushes back on the argument made by The Social Dilemma that social media is designed to manipulate. He argues that the user does not act alone, instead it is a coming together of users and interfaces. In the end, it is always far more nuanced, with various socio-political factors, such as gender, race, and class inequities, adding to story.

This is why I find approaches like Ian Guest’s research into the potentials associated with Twitter in regards to teacher professional development interesting. It adds to the knowledge about the topic, but does not promise to be the whole knowledge.

Bookmarked The Social Dilemma Fails to Tackle the Real Issues in Tech by (Slate)

Ultimately, this omission of experts and lack of nuance results in The Social Dilemma feeling like a missed opportunity. On the plus side, it informs a wide audience about issues like surveillance, persuasive design practices, and the spread of misinformation online, which may encourage them to hold big technology companies accountable. But who gets to convey this information and how it is framed are also crucial. Amplifying voices who have always had a seat at the table and continuing to ignore those who haven’t will not lead us any closer to resolving the dilemma the film claims to present.

Pranav Malhotra argues that although the documentry The Social Dilemma is helpful in providing information about the problems with social media, the choice of whose voices are included and how it is framed is problematic.

This documentary, which will undoubtedly reach a global audience being on Netflix (itself a key cog within the technology industry), could have amplified such voices. It could have also given space to critical internet and media scholars like Safiya Noble, Sarah T. Roberts, and Siva Vaidhyanathan, just to name a few, who continue to write about how broader structural inequalities are reflected in and often amplified by the practices of big technology companies.

This is something that Maria Farrell also touches on this in regards to the ‘prodigal techbros‘.

The prodigal tech bro doesn’t want structural change. He is reassurance, not revolution. He’s invested in the status quo, if we can only restore the founders’ purity of intent. Sure, we got some things wrong, he says, but that’s because we were over-optimistic / moved too fast / have a growth mindset. Just put the engineers back in charge / refocus on the original mission / get marketing out of the c-suite. Government “needs to step up”, but just enough to level the playing field / tweak the incentives. Because the prodigal techbro is a moderate, centrist, regular guy. Dammit, he’s a Democrat. Those others who said years ago what he’s telling you right now? They’re troublemakers, disgruntled outsiders obsessed with scandal and grievance. He gets why you ignored them. Hey, he did, too. He knows you want to fix this stuff. But it’s complicated. It needs nuance. He knows you’ll listen to him. Dude, he’s just like you…

via Bill Fitzgerald

Replied to Anti-social media by David Truss (daily-ink.davidtruss.com)

I can’t stay on Twitter and only share things I think will acquire likes and positive comments. I’m not a poop disturber either, but I want to be able to go to hard places sometimes, to question and to learn. But I’m not feeling like good discourse can happen on social media anymore. Discourse has become argument and different views are not tolerated.


What I’m talking about goes far beyond the conversation I had, but what I’ve seen recently has pushed me away from following conversation threads on Twitter… Not because I’m not interested in the topic, but because I’m not interested in the polar, angry, and even nasty comments that fill any (even slightly) controversial thread.

David, I feel that this is the challenge that Douglas Rushkoff is trying to grapple with in regards to Team Human.

Ian O’Byrne also wrote a similar reflection lately in which he wonders if we need to take a step back:

We spend time teaching youth how to engage in digital practices and many times this is to prepare them to engage, connect, and participant in online spaces. Is this what we really want? Is this the type of future that we want for youth?

Maybe we have it all wrong.

Just because we could…doesn’t mean that we should.

I often come back to Venkatesh Rao’s piece on the Internet of Beefs.

Replied to Nostalgic for Twitter of the past (daily-ink.davidtruss.com)

Maybe I lived in a safe bubble in the early days of Twitter, shielded from everything except my interests in education and learning? Maybe I allowed too much in? Maybe the tool itself is inviting the wrong kind of engagement? Maybe it’s time to take another break?

I too have written about this sense of nostalgia.

I do not regret that time, but it is not necessarily something that I miss. My fast food social media diet has been replaced by one managed around blogs, feeds and comments. I do sometimes feel I miss out on some things, but trust that if I need to know something that I will probably capture through some other means.

Ian Guest, who wrote a PhD on the topic, kindly left me with this response, which I will share with you:

A couple of hypotheticals I’ll throw into the pot to see what bubbles to the surface.
1. What would happen (for you) if Twitter’s ‘fail whale’ reappeared tomorrow and suddenly Twitter was gone?
2. What if you deactivated your original account and started afresh? Knowing what you know and bearing in mind what you wrote in this post, how would you do things differently, if at all? Is ‘making Twitter great again’ within your capacity?
3. If Twitter is broken beyond repair and neither Mastodon nor micro.blog quite cut it, if you had the wherewithall, what would you design as a replacement? What would it need to have or be able to do?

Thankfully there are some people still out there blogging.