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My fast food social media diet has been replaced by one managed around blogs, feeds and comments.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.

Replied to The Endless Doomscroller (bengrosser.com)

“Doomscrolling” refers to the ways in which people find themselves regularly—and in some cases, almost involuntarily—scrolling bad news headlines on their phone, often for hours each night in bed when they had meant to be sleeping. Certainly the realities of the pandemic necessitate a level of vigilance for the purposes of personal safety. But doomscrolling isn’t just a natural reaction to the news of the day—it’s the result of a perfect yet evil marriage between a populace stuck online, social media interfaces designed to game and hold our attention, and the realities of an existential global crisis. Yes, it may be hard to look away from bad news in any format, but it’s nearly impossible to avert our eyes when that news is endlessly presented via designed-to-be-addictive social media interfaces that know just what to show us next in order to keep us “engaged.” As an alternative interface, The Endless Doomscroller acts as a lens on our software-enabled collective descent into despair. By distilling the news and social media sites down to their barest most generalized messages and interface conventions, The Endless Doomscroller shows us the mechanism that’s behind our scroll-induced anxiety: interfaces—and corporations—that always want more. More doom (bad news headlines) compels more engagement (via continued liking/sharing/posting) which produces more personal data, thus making possible ever more profit. By stripping away the specifics wrapped up in each headline and minimizing the mechanics behind most interface patterns, The Endless Doomscroller offers up an opportunity for mindfulness about how we’re spending our time online and about who most benefits from our late night scroll sessions. And, if one scrolls as endlessly as the work makes possible, The Endless Doomscroller might even enable a sort of exposure or substitution therapy, a way to escape or replace what these interfaces want from and do to us. In other words, perhaps the only way out of too much doomscrolling is endless doomscrolling.

I love this Ben. Why go on social media, when you can get straight to the point and just engage in some meta doomscrolling.
Bookmarked Thread by @timminchin: If someone writes an article you disagree with, here is an option that a lot of you seem to have forgotten: read it, then have some thoughts… (threadreaderapp.com)

Thread by @timminchin: “If someone writes an article you disagree with, here is an option that a lot of you seem to have forgotten: read it, then have some thoughts about it.

Then have some thoughts about your thoughts. Critically assess your intuitive reaction. Then see if there’s any elements of the piece that you might agree with. See if it might even — god forbid – adjust your view. Just a tiny bit.

Give to the writer all the credit & generosity of interpretation you would give a friend. Apply to yourself all the criticism you’d intuitively direct at an enemy. Then wait a day. Perhaps read the article again.

Then, before deciding to post about it on twitter, consider: am I signaling my virtue? Am I just polishing my brand? Am I going to be inadvertently boosting the signal of something I wish had less exposure?

Am I just fishing for ‘likes’. Do I have a strategy whereby I might effect positive change? Is my interpretation unique enough to add to the debate? Am I just fueling ineffectual anger? Have I noted my biases? Have I applied humility? Then think, maybe I’ll have a tea. Then go make a tea. Then drink your tea.”

Tim Minchin’s shares a thread about considering other ideas and intent before responding.

Am I just fishing for “likes”. Do I have a strategy whereby I might effect positive change? Is my interpretation unique enough to add to the debate? Am I just fueling ineffectual anger? Have I noted my biases? Have I applied humility? Then think, maybe I’ll have a tea. Then go make a tea.

This reminds me of Venkatesh Rao’s discussion of the internet of beefs. Alternatively, Austin Kleon argues that maybe rather than write a comment or an email, just write your own blog post.

Abby Gardner sums this all up as follows:

Guess who’s waiting to hear where I stand on the issue on Twitter? Nobody.

via Harold Jarche

Social media can be a great space to share ideas, however not every space is helpful with connecting the dots. Although you can trace a thread through a series of Tweets, you are not always able to link to points of context and clarification. For me, this is one thing that I like about Micro.Blog’s use of Markdown. Clearly, not as rich as WordPress, but much better than Twitter or Google+(rip).
Responding to John Johnston’s discussion of the value of blogging as a space for sharing, Ian Guest wonders about the various features associated with Twitter.

One thing I wonder about sharing spaces is not what is technically possible – Twitter actually includes quite a few features to help users, such as hashtags, saved searches, bookmarks and moments to name a few – the question is how easy is it to personally mine this information and subsequently build upon it?  This was the point that both Cal Newport and Austin Kleon have recently touched upon, sharing the power of a space of one’s own.