Confusing the Web with the Internet

Of course, everything is broken

But new silos are not the answer to today's silos

created Dec 2, 2019

tl;dr

Silos are gonna silo.

My idea for a new "social network" is to use what existed long ago with a sprinkling of new ideas.

The very long rant

Here we go again with something is broken, and here we go again where the authors confuse the web and the internet. Normally, I don't care if terms like "web" and "internet" are used interchangeably, but if the discussion is technical, then those terms MUST be used correctly, otherwise the articles lose validity.

I saw this on Sun, Dec 1, 2019, via Mediagazer.

I saw this on Mon, Dec 2, 2019, via Medigazer.

Maybe the authors don't create the titles, but it's almost legitimate to dismiss both opinions without reading anything more than the titles, subtitles, and opening sentences.

Both pieces use the term "internet" in the titles, and both immediately focus on "social media" and not the internet nor the entire web.

Neither article discusses the internet at the protocol level. No discussion about IP, TCP, nor UDP.

Neither article mentions other applications that run over the internet besides the web, such as email, IRC, NNTP (Usenet), FTP, SSH, Gopher, etc.

Neither opinion/essay/article mentioned the phrase "open web," which is especially disappointing in the cjr.org opinion, considering the author.

Sadly, both authors want new social media silos to replace today's social media silos as some kind of solution to a problem that is more rooted in human nature than technology.

Technology can identify, limit, and remove some bad actors within a single silo, but the trolls will find another silo to wreck havoc, or someone will create a new silo that supports so-called "free speech."

My February 2018 post:

Unless a new silo contains numerous "barriers to entry" that restrict access and limit content creation, then I don't understand how new silos can solve any problems. In my opinion, it would be better to encourage silo users to use the open web in addition to their silos.

Aren't these authors aware of efforts, such as indieweb.org, Mastodon, micro.blog, and other decentralized and federated endeavors?

The problem is that these more open, non-silo movements require more technical expertise, and most internet users don't want to be sys admins, programmers, designers, security gurus, and database admins.

Instead of wanting more silos, it would have been nice if the cjr.org and nytimes.com opinion writers promoted these more open ideas and pushed for more development to make them easier to use for non-techies.

Both articles seemed to whine about how many people spend a lot of time on the big silo services. Really? That's not a new observation.

And creating new silos that supposedly help society does not mean that people will use those products. Facebook, Google, Snapchat, Twitter, Reddit, and other silo services have created products (better mousetraps) that most internet users enjoy using for entertainment and utility.

Most users of silo services don't care that they are surrendering their content for free, and that their interactions are repackaged as products to be sold to advertisers. The silo users believe that the benefits that they receive from using these free services outweigh any negatives regarding how they, the users, become the product being sold.

I don't use Facebook nor Twitter, but I understand why people CAN find Facebook useful, especially Facebook's key features, such as Groups and Events. Friends and family members use Facebook, and I hear Facebook Marketplace or something like that mentioned often. People are using Facebook to buy and sell things. Facebook Messenger is probably popular with a significant percentage of Facebook's 2.4 billion users.

The cjr.org piece overwhelmingly focuses on Facebook, instead of Facebook AND Twitter or other silos, such as Reddit.

The nytimes.com opinion does mention Twitter nearly as much as Facebook.

About the author of the cjr.org piece:

Ethan Zuckerman is director of the Center for Civic Media at MIT and associate professor of the practice at the MIT Media Lab. He is the author of Digital Cosmopolitans (2013) and cocreator of the MediaCloud.org media analytics platform.

About the author of the nytimes.com piece:

Annalee Newitz (@Annaleen) is a contributing opinion writer and the author, most recently, of “The Future of Another Timeline.”

The cjr.org piece prattles on a lot about the history and regulation of radio. I don't understand the relevance of comparing radio to the web, unless the author wants the web to be as regulated as radio.

It's a lot easier for ANYONE to create a website than to launch a radio station or a radio broadcast. Obviously, a podcast is easy to create, but the author focused on radio.

The subtitle of the cjr.org piece:

What would social media look like if it served the public interest?

Many local governmental agencies maintain presences on all of the major social media silos. I'm guessing that most Toledoans get more info from the city government's Facebook page than the city's website.

From the cjr.org piece:

As in radio, the current model of the internet is not the inevitable one. Globally, we’ve seen at least two other possibilities emerge. One is in China, where the unfettered capitalism of the US internet is blended with tight state oversight and control. The result is utterly unlike sterile Soviet radio—conversations on WeChat or Weibo are political, lively, and passionate—but those have state-backed censorship and surveillance baked in. (Russia’s internet is a state-controlled capitalist system as well; platforms like LiveJournal and VKontakte are now owned by Putin-aligned oligarchs.)

The second alternative model is public service media. Wikipedia, the remarkable participatory encyclopedia, is one of the ten most-visited websites in the world. Wikipedia’s parent company, Wikimedia, had an annual budget of about $80 million in 2018, but it spent just a quarter of 1 percent of what Facebook spent that year. Virtually all of Wikimedia’s money comes from donations, the bulk of it in millions of small contributions rather than large grants. Additionally, Wikimedia’s model is made possible by millions of hours of donated labor provided by contributors, editors, and administrators.

For many years, teachers warned their students not to cite Wikipedia—the information found there didn’t come from institutional authorities, but could be written by anyone. In other words, it might be misinformation. But something odd has happened in the past decade: Wikipedia’s method of debating its way to consensus, allowing those with different perspectives to add and delete each other’s text until a “neutral point of view” is achieved, has proved surprisingly durable. In 2018, when YouTube sought unbiased information about conspiracy theories to provide context for controversial videos, it added text sourced from Wikipedia articles. In the past decade, we’ve moved from Wikipedia being the butt of online jokes about unreliability to Wikipedia being one of the best definitions we currently have of consensus reality.

If the contemporary internet is a city, Wikipedia is the lone public park; all the rest of our public places are shopping malls—open to the general public, but subject to the rules and logic of commerce.

It took many years and many thousands of people hours to make Wikipedia a service that most people respected and found useful. Trying to duplicate that at the local level might be a noble effort, but it would require the dedication of many people who would probably be volunteers. Can such an effort for the Toledo area last long-term as people leave the project? It's worth the try. I considered it in the aught years. I started maintaining a localized wiki that was attached to my toledotalk.com message board, but I lost interest. I did not try to attract others to the idea though.

A public service Web invites us to imagine services that don’t exist now, because they are not commercially viable, but perhaps should exist for our benefit, for the benefit of citizens in a democracy.

Simply existing does not mean that people will use such services. But even if only a small percentage of local residents follow local political issues intently, then such a service would be worthwhile, provided that it can be funded. A 100 percent volunteer effort my last for a year or two, but I'm guessing that it would fizzle without proper management and funding.

We’ve seen a wave of innovation around tools that entertain us and capture our attention for resale to advertisers, but much less innovation around tools that educate us and challenge us to broaden our sphere of exposure, or that amplify marginalized voices. Digital public service media would fill a black hole of misinformation with educational material and legitimate news.

The internet along with applications, such as email and the web, have helped amplify marginalized voices for more than 25 years. We don't need social media. People can build their own websites. The trick is getting those sites noticed, and that most likely requires syndicating content to social media silos.

One way to avoid a world in which Google throws our presidential election would be to allow academics or government bureaucrats to regularly audit the search engine. Another way would be to create a public-interest search engine with audits built in.

But who will use such a search engine? DuckDuckGo has existed for many years, and I have begun to use DDG almost exclusively in recent weeks, but it's share of the search engine pie among users is probably tiny.

If I stood in the food court area of a local mall and asked people if they know what DuckDuckGo is, what percentage of people would answer "search engine?" I bet many would answer some kind of children's game.

This won't qualify as the author's idea of search engine transparency, but DDG lists some basic info here.

https://duckduckgo.com/about

The cjr.org article never mentioned DDG as a possible starting point for partnering with the author's ideas. Sometimes, it seems that these opinion writers are oblivious to what currently exists outside of the giant silos.

My May 2019 post:

More from the cjr.org:

Consider social media. Research suggests that social platforms may be increasing political polarization, straining social ties, and causing us anxiety and depression. Facebook is criticized for creating echo chambers and “filter bubbles” in which people only encounter content—sometimes inaccurate content—that reinforces their prejudices.

Whoa. Twitter ALSO creates filter bubbles, echo chambers, and information vacuums. Focusing only on Facebook is intellectually disingenuous.

My May 2019 post:

More from the cjr.org piece:

The resulting disinformation is, in part, a fault of its financial model. It happens because the platform optimizes for “engagement,” measured in time spent on the site and interactions with content, so the company has a disincentive to challenge users with difficult or uncomfortable information.

That is also Twitter's business model. It's all about engagement and not providing a civil, useful platform. Twitter is in the enragement business because that causes more people to respond.

The key reason misinformation spreads so fast and far is that people like sharing it.

That also describes Twitter. And since nearly every journalist loves to use Twitter, then Twitter could be worse than Facebook for spreading misinformation and amplifying benign stories. Journalists get lazy too and share stories that have not been vetted completely, and the corrections that get published later don't get circulated as much.

The media deserve a lot of blame too for the alleged ills that exist in social media land. The media enslave themselves with the silos and the products that the silos offer. The media load up their article pages with social media sharing links. Why don't the media lead by example and break free of ALL social media silo products and focus 100 percent on their own domain names?

The media rely heavily on social media traffic. The media won't stop using social media due to a misplaced fear of being left behind. The media prefer to bitch and moan about Big Tech, instead of taking responsibility by creating their own paths on the internet.

More from the cjr.org piece:

Can we imagine a social network designed in a different way: to encourage the sharing of mutual understanding rather than misinformation? A social network that encourages you to interact with people with whom you might have a productive disagreement, or with people in your community whose lived experience is sharply different from your own?

Do people live like that in the physical world, or do people mostly associate with others who share similar interests or backgrounds? We have all kinds of groups, clubs, associations, etc. in the physical world that we can join.

I can hang out with the fiber spinners who make yarn. I can hang out with birdwatchers. I can hang out with watercolorists. I can hang out with home beer brewers. Once the discussions swerve away from the topic of the groups, then I might lose interest in the people.

If I'm sitting around spinning yarn with other spinners, the chatter might cover a wide variety of subjects. Maybe I want to focus on spinning, knitting, crocheting, dyeing yarn, raising sheep, etc, and not about politics and sports. If too much of the latter, then I might stop going to spinning gatherings.

Sometimes with birdwatchers, I only want to discuss matters related to birdwatching, the environment, nature, etc. This could all be a "Me" problem, and I'm fine with that, but I doubt that makes me unique.

Even if I accept discussing a wide variety of topics while brewing beer with a group of home brewers, I'm still in a vacuum or a filter bubble, at least on that day. My next vacuum might occur when sketching outdoors with a group of watercolorists.

Facebook critics love to bring up the filter bubble concept, but they don't mention that Twitter creates the same problem. Their criticism of Facebook and their ideas of what should work on the internet run counter to how humans live in the physical world.

Most humans are social, but it's possible that most humans are also clique-ish.

Back in the 1990s, I subscribed to two different running magazines, one or two bicycling magazines, a fishing magazine, and at least one computer magazine. Those were my primary hobbies, and I was willing to pay for media content that interested me. I also read and collected computer-related publications that we received at work. Outside of work, I associated with runners and byciclists. Most of my work friends worked in IT. I lived in multiple vacuums without using the web much if at all, especially in the early 1990s.

More from the cjr.org piece:

Imagine a social network designed to allow constituents in a city to discuss local bills and plans before voting on them, ...

Many users did that on my toledotalk.com message board throughout the aught years and into the teen years, but over time, a lot of us, including myself, lost interest in every damn issue that existed within Toledo city government. The "Here we go again" gets old. It's easier to choose to be ignorant about local matters instead of getting disgusted and losing the battle anyway with boneheaded local political decisions that involve wasting taxpayer money.

And we had county and school board issues that needed discussing too, but after a long enough timeline of "paying attention" to local political matters, people grow tired and feel like, "What's the point?"

If people want to discuss every local political issue, then they can do that now, probably, within Toledo Facebook Groups and Toledo Reddit Subreddits. And if those don't exist, such discussion areas would be easy to create.

My April 2019 post:

The cjr.org author seems to be advocating for yet another SILO that involves people surrendering their time and content to someone else's platform. Sigh.

What’s preventing us from building such networks? The obvious criticisms are, one, that these networks wouldn’t be commercially viable, and, two, that they won’t be widely used. The first is almost certainly true, but this is precisely why public service models exist: to counter market failures.

What's preventing the author from using Facebook or Reddit to achieve the author's goals? My wife belongs to Facebook groups where the maintainers of the groups manage the groups with an iron fist where users are banned, not warned, but banned after only one bad lapse in judgement, regarding content that people post. If a user harshly criticizes another user, then that user gets banned. Boom. The rules are simple, and people who CHOOSE not to follow the Group rules are kicked out. That's strict moderation, and my wife and many other people who belong to those groups love that kind of moderation. Mean people can go elsewhere.

The two biggest obstacles to launching new social networks in 2019 are Facebook and… Facebook. It’s hard to tear users away from a platform they are already accustomed to; then, if you do gain momentum with a new social network, Facebook will likely purchase it. A mandate of interoperability could help. Right now, social networks compete for your attention, asking you to install specific software on your phone to interact with them. But just as Web browsers allow us to interact with any website through the same architecture, interoperability would mean we could build social media browsers that put existing social networks, and new ones, in the same place.

A mandate of interoperability??? That sounds like government regulation. No. That's forcing users to accept the author's ideas of what people should do.

Sadly, many web users prefer to use native apps on mobile devices instead of web browsers. My favorite native app on all devices is the web browser, but again, I'm in the minority.

My October 2017 post:

I'm not wanting laws that force people to do something that disinterests them, regarding web activity. I prefer to encourage people to try the open web tech, and if it's too complicated or too slow for them, then open web advocates should work to make the open web easier to use and manage, and we should work to convince friends and family members as to why the Slow Web Movement is okay at least some of the time.

I'm not saying that people should end all of their social media activity like I have done. I'd like people to carve out a little time every week for the open web. Start by following personal blogs within a feed reader. Maybe over time, these people will spend most of their web time on the open web, even maintaining their own personal website too.

I should say open internet, since email is a separate application from the web. The web and email run over the internet. The web is an easy way to publish and consume content. Email can be used to distribute, share, and discuss content. Then add feed readers, which can be used to consume content. IndieWeb feed readers can also share and discuss content with sites that support some of the IndieWeb tech, such as Webmention and MicroPub.

It's unfortunate that the author of the cjr.org article spent no time discussing the open web/internet and no time discussing why we should break free from all silos, at least part of the time.

Now to the nytimes.com opinion piece.

Social media is broken. It has poisoned the way we communicate with each other and undermined the democratic process.

No, social media has allowed human nature to act naturally in the digital world. Ruined by design. Facebook and Twitter understand human nature. The silos know how to exploit human nature. Social media has NOT caused humans to be mean to each other. Humans do that naturally and have done so for thousands of years.

Many of us just want to get away from it, but we can’t imagine a world without it.

Ahh, here we go. I've seen this before. People claim that they need to stop or reduce their social media usage, but then they give a litany of lame reasons why they can't. Journalists claim that they need to use Twitter. No they don't. Journalists use Twitter because they enjoy the service. They enjoy being outraged, which sounds weird. They enjoy firing quick comments back. They enjoy it.

My September 2018 post:

Back to the nytimes.com piece:

Though we talk about reforming and regulating it, “fixing” it, those of us who grew up on the internet know there’s no such thing as a social network that lasts forever. Facebook and Twitter are slowly imploding.

According to what metric? Facebook's userbase continues to grow. A third or maybe half of the world's population does not have internet access, or their internet access is subpar. With better internet access and hopefully freedom to use the internet, some of those people might use Facebook.

How does the author make such a claim without supporting evidence?

And before they’re finally dead, we need to think about what the future will be like after social media so we can prepare for what comes next.

Huh?????? Whatever comes next will probably be a government-controlled silo that forces people to create content in a specific manner.

I don’t mean brainstorming new apps that could replace outdated ones, the way Facebook did Myspace. I mean what will replace social media the way the internet replaced television, transforming our entire culture?

Oh, man. It's irritating that social media critics focus on replacing existing silos with new and improved silos. If the giant silos vanished, we still have the rest of the web.

To find out what comes next, I went on a quest. I was looking for a deeper future than the latest gadget cycle, so I spoke to experts in media history, tech designers, science fiction writers and activists for social justice. I even talked to an entity that is not a person at all.

Collectively, they gave me a glimpse of a future where the greatest tragedy is not the loss of our privacy. It is the loss of an open public sphere.

The open public sphere exists now. It's called the open web or the open internet. Email and the web are the two most popular applications that people use on the internet.

The only way that we can lose the open internet is if our government bans personal websites hosted at unique domain names that we lease, or the government requires an annual licensing fee to maintain personal websites where the expense is so great that it's cost prohibitive.

If the government charged me a $5,000 per year licensing fee or even $1,000 per year to allow sawv.org to exist on the public web, then I would not have the site. That licensing cost would exist on top of the cost of leasing a domain name and paying for a monthly web server hosting fee.

I would have to go to the Dark Web by hosting a .onion site on a Raspberry Pi in my home that could be accessed via the Tor web browser. That's assuming that internet service providers and the government don't block .onion addresses. Currently, I have a .onion site setup on my old Linux desktop computer in my home that can be accessed anywhere on the internet, provided someone uses the Tor web browser, and my computer is powered on. I need to set one up on an always-on Pi.

More from the nytimes.com piece:

There are many paths beyond the social media hellscape, and all of them begin with reimagining what it means to build public spaces where people seek common ground.

What does that mean, seek common ground? That sounds like creating the filter bubbles that the cjr.org author wants to avoid.

I began on a steep, narrow street in San Francisco’s North Beach, a neighborhood overlooking the Bay where beatniks used to hang out in the 1950s. It’s miles away from techie-clogged SoMa, where Google employees eat their free lunches and the glowing Twitter sign looms over Market Street.

Yeah, that's a great place to start. Why not start in Toledo or St. Louis or Fort Wayne or Des Moines or Wheeling?

This is the home of Erika Hall’s design firm Mule.

Okay, now I'm interested. Earlier this year, I read the delightful book titled, Ruined by Design, written by Mike Monteiro who helped start Mule Design.

This is the home of Erika Hall’s design firm Mule. She co-founded it 20 years ago, and she’s watched the web move from the margins to the center of the business world. Back in the early aughts, companies were just trying to figure out how to have an “online presence.” She and her team built websites and digital campaigns for them, using the principles of “user-centered” design to help people navigate the confusing new world of the internet.

“I absolutely believe that you can design interfaces that create more safe spaces to interact, in the same way we know how to design streets that are safer,” she said.

But today, she told me, the issue isn’t technical. It has to do with the way business is being done in Silicon Valley. The problem, as most people know by now, is that tech companies want to grab a ton of private data from their customers without telling anyone why they need it. And this, Ms. Hall says, is bad design for users. It leaves them vulnerable to abuses like the Cambridge Analytica scandal, or to hacks where their data is exposed.

What’s more, companies like Facebook and Twitter lack an incentive to promote better relationships and a better understanding of the news “because they make money through outrage and deception,” Ms. Hall said. Outrage and deception capture our attention, and attention sells ads. “At a business model level, they are ad networks parasitic on human connection.”

Ruined by design. It's what Mike discussed in his book. Facebook and Twitter are performing as designed.

As scary as that sounds, none of it is inevitable. We don’t have to lose our digital public spaces to state manipulation. What if future companies designed media to facilitate democracy right from the beginning? Is it possible to create a form of digital communication that promotes consensus-building and civil debate, rather than divisiveness and conspiracy theories?

I'm guessing that many people believe that those ideals are possible now by using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, etc. because people have been doing those things on the silos for years.

What would “internet realists” want from their media streams? The opposite of what we have now. Today, platforms like Facebook and Twitter are designed to make users easy to contact. That was the novelty of social media — we could get in touch with people in new and previously unimaginable ways.

That's why it was called social networking and not social media. I don't know why or how the phrasing got changed, maybe when the media orgs started using social networking heavily.

Maybe critics should start blaming the media for polluting social networks with their content.

It also meant, by default, that any government or advertiser could do the same. Mr. Scalzi thinks we should turn the whole system on its head with “an intense emphasis on the value of curation.” It would be up to you to curate what you want to see. Your online profiles would begin with everything and everyone blocked by default.

Holy hell. That existed in the early aughts. It was called blogs or personal websites and feeds and feed readers.

When I began using my own feed reading web app, it was empty. I had to add feeds. I had to find and add feeds on my own. I did it. I added websites that interested me. Uh, oh, that kind of human nature leads to filter bubbles.

When I started a bookmarks page of personal websites that interest me, the page was blank. Then I add URLs of sites that I like to visit occasionally.

When I subscribed to email newsletters, initially, I started with no subscriptions. Then I subscribed and unsubscribed over time.

I don't understand. Mr. Scalzi, a sci-fi writer, advocates going back in time. I agree. Combine concepts from the old blogosphere with ideas espoused by the IndieWeb.org community along with email newsletters. That's open.

My posts from 2016 to 2018:

From the nytimes.com opinion:

Think of it as a more robust, comprehensive version of privacy settings, where news and entertainment would reach you only after you opted into them.

That occurs NOW with me. Algorithms do not control what appears in my account at theoldreader.com and especially not with my own homemade feed reading web app. If personal website authors include their posts in their feeds, then my feed reader will display them to me in the same order. And I only see the feeds that I CHOOSE to subscribe too. I don't see random feeds being recommended to me. And the feed readers that I use do not contain algorithms that limit which posts that I see.

This next paragraph is irritating.

The problem is that you can’t make advertising money from a system where everyone is blocked by default — companies wouldn’t be able to gather and sell your data, and you could avoid seeing ads. New business models would have to replace current ones after the demise of social media. Mr. Scalzi believes that companies will have to figure out ways to make money from helping consumers protect and curate their personal data.

The flawed thinking here is that once again, these critics of today's social media are advocating replacing silos with silos. They have it all wrong. They should be advocating for the open web/internet where the focus is on domain names and the good old URL.

When I wanted local news, I subscribed to the toledoblade.com. When I want information about city services, I visit the City of Toledo website. But most people prefer to follow those orgs' Facebook pages.

Native mobile apps hide URLs. Silos want to silo, and they don't want users visiting other websites. Mobile web browsers on small screens may hide or obscure URLs. Businesses, orgs, and users used to share their respective URLs. Now they share @names for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Sad.

This could take many forms. Media companies might offer a few cheap services with ads, and more expensive ones without. Crowdfunding could create a public broadcasting version of video sharing, kind of an anti-YouTube, where every video is educational and safe for kids. There would also be a rich market for companies that design apps or devices to help people curate the content and people in their social networks. It’s all too easy to imagine an app that uses an algorithm to help “choose” appropriate friends for us, or select our news.

I don't understand this focus on creating new silos. If the above existed, those orgs would probably pivot, eventually becoming similar to the silos that exist now.

PeerTube exists.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PeerTube

PeerTube is a free, decentralized, federated video platform powered by ActivityPub and WebTorrent, that uses peer-to-peer technology to reduce load on individual servers when viewing videos.

PeerTube could be used NOW to host videos that are educational and safe for kids.

There would also be a rich market for companies that design apps or devices to help people curate the content and people in their social networks.

I have that now. It's called MY BRAIN. I don't need an app to perform the functions that my own brain can do now. I CHOOSE my email newsletter subscriptions. I choose what URLs I keep in my bookmarks page that contains websites that I like to visit occasionally. I choose what feeds I want to include in my feed reader.

The IndieWeb webring helps me find new personal websites that I might want to include on my booksmarks page or in my feed reader.

Ms. Noble imagines a counterintuitive and elegantly simple solution to the algorithm problem. She calls it “slow media.” As Ms. Noble said: “Right now, we know billions of items per day are uploaded into Facebook.

Yeah, voluntarily. Most Facebook users are not forced to upload content against their will. Again, these users see the benefits of Facebook outweighing the negatives.

With that volume of content, it’s impossible for the platform to look at all of it and determine whether it should be there or not.”

Trying to keep up with this torrent, media companies have used algorithms to stop the spread of abusive or misleading information. But so far, they haven’t helped much. Instead of deploying algorithms to curate content at superhuman speeds, what if future public platforms simply set limits on how quickly content circulates?

This person is only talking about silos. When discussing the open web/internet, I control the speed, based upon when I access my bookmarks page, when I access my feed reader, and whether I have my email app loaded.

Email is more notification-based, meaning that if I have email up, which most people do, especially for work, then I would be notified of a new email newsletter post. This is whey some people prefer to use feeds, instead of email newsletters. But that notification is also why some prefer to use email newsletters because it also means one fewer app to use. No need for a feed reader app.

My November 2016 post:

I could also subscribe to email newsletters, using an email address that I use less often. I would leave my main email app open, but I would need to log into the less-used email account to read email newsletters when I have the time. No interruptions.

It would be a much different media experience. “Maybe you’ll submit something and it won’t show up the next minute,” Ms. Noble said. “That might be positive. Maybe we’ll upload things and come back in a week and see if it’s there.”

Again, that exists now. A bookmarks page means that I might visit bradfrost.com once a month and get caught up on Brad's posts in one sitting when I have the time. I won't be notified via email. I won't have my feed reader open all the time because that will also be a distraction because I will check it often for new content. Instead, I will visit personal websites directly when my time and interest permits.

That slowness would give human moderators or curators time to review content.

Oh my gosh. Silos, silos, silos. Quit re-imagining silos. The IndieWeb has already done this by creating ways to ineroperate with some silos via personal websites. The critics should advocate for the silos to be a little more open to interoperating with ideas, such as the InideWeb concepts. I think that Facebook changed something within the past year that breaks the IndieWeb concepts from working with Facebook. Twitter can interoperate with personal websites via the IndieWeb ideas.

But not everyone has an interest in connecting personal websites to silo users. I'm in this camp. sawv.org, however, supports the IndieWeb's Webmention protocol. Users can post replies on their own websites, and via the Webmention, I can know about it here. Also, users can use the lo-fi approach by emailing me their comments, and their emails can include links to their blog reply posts. Simple and slower. This approach can also lead to more civil discussions.

The key to slow media is that it puts humans back in control of the information they share.

Unfortunately, the author's idea is not discussing the Slow News Movement nor the Slow Web Movement. It's about helping silos silo. Very weak.

It doesn’t have to be that way. As Erika Hall pointed out, we have centuries of experience designing real-life spaces where people gather safely. After the social media age is over, we’ll have the opportunity to rebuild our damaged public sphere by creating digital public places that imitate actual town halls, concert venues and pedestrian-friendly sidewalks. These are places where people can socialize or debate with a large community, but they can do it anonymously. If they want to, they can just be faces in the crowd, not data streams loaded with personal information.

That's fascinating. In the aught years, many people in media and politics railed against anonymous people posting on blogs and message boards. The author of the above nytimes.com piece wants us to circle back around to what existed in the 1990s and early aughts.

My message board toledotalk.com accepted user-contributed content from January 2003 to March 2019. It still exists but in read-only mode. It permitted anonymous users. In the early and mid aught years, my message board got criticized by some locals for allowing people to create user accounts with pseudonyms.

Hilarious. People are advocating solutions that already exist now and were used 15 to 20 years ago.

Example:

That’s because in real life, we have more control over who will come into our private lives, and who will learn intimate details about us. We seek out information, rather than having it jammed into our faces without context or consent. Slow, human-curated media would be a better reflection of how in-person communication works in a functioning democratic society.

Information is NOT jammed in MY face without context nor consent because I CHOOSE what sites to visit directly or to include in my feed readers.

I also like to visit aggregator sites, such as Hacker News and Mediagazer. I CHOOSE to visit those sites directly when time and interest permits. The information appearing on those websites do not get pushed to me.

I prefer the "pull" over the "push." Email, however, is a form of push notifications, but I subscribe to fewer than a dozen email newsletters, and they are not all daily email newsletters. But if the push got to be too much, then I would unsubscribe and choose to visit their websites directly if they maintain websites.

A few creatives only publish via email newsletters, and they don't maintain personal websites. That's okay. If I choose to ignore email newsletters, then I'll find other websites to read. The open web is still huge. More personal websites exist than I have time to read.

Occasionally, an artist that I follow by visiting the artist's website directly decides to stop posting to his or her website and focus entirely on using Instagram or some other social media silo. Creatives can make those choices, and I can choose to stop following those artists, since I don't use social media. And I do make those choices. Since the web is still huge, I find someone else to follow on the open web. Win-win.

I have no problem with creatives using social media in addition to maintaining personal websites, but it's a little disappointing when they give up on their personal websites and focus exclusively on the silos. I understand the reasoning. More bang for the buck can be garnered via the silos. That's the belief. The creatives have little time to devote to the web, and they choose the silos that generate more interest in their work than their personal websites can accomplish. That's an unfortunate reality. This makes the open web hard to accept by the silo users.

The thinkers of the cjr.org and nytimes pieces should focus their efforts on how to make the open web more acceptable to the masses.

But as we’ve already learned from social media, anonymous communication can degenerate quickly. What’s to stop future public spaces from becoming unregulated free-for-alls, with abuse and misinformation that are far worse than anything today?

At toledotalk.com, I implemented barriers that prevented or annoyed trolls and spammers. When the effort to disrupt Toledo Talk discussion became too hard, the trolls and spammers went away. The people who truly wanted to engage in an online community did not mind the barriers to creating a user account.

Also at toledotalk.com, I enforced the posting guidelines, and I disallowed people to be cruel to others on the site. Many moderators of Facebook Groups and Reddit Subreddits do the same.

Looking for ideas, I talked to Mikki Kendall, author of the book “Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists.” Ms. Kendall has thought a lot about how to deal with troublemakers in online communities. In 2014, she was one of several activists on Black Twitter who noticed suspiciously inflammatory tweets from people claiming to be black feminists.

I don't understand. Online communities and the focus is on Twitter. ?!?!?

I'm shocked that inflammatory posts existed on Twitter. It's designed for that kind of engagement. It's why I call Twitter a cesspool.

The nytimes.com author should have interviewed Matt Haughey who started MetaFilter.com around 1999, and he managed the community site for a long time before handing it over to someone else a few years ago. MeFi inspired me to create toledotalk.com. I patterned Toledo Talk's UI/UX after MeFi in 2002.

It's so stupid that so much of the talk about online communities is focused only on the giant social media silos. If the focus is on silos, then why not chat with the founders of Ello, Ravelry, and other "small" online communities?

The legacy of social media will be a world thirsty for new kinds of public experiences. To rebuild the public sphere, we’ll need to use what we’ve learned from billion-dollar social experiments like Facebook, and marginalized communities like Black Twitter. We’ll have to carve out genuinely private spaces too, curated by people we know and trust.

It's almost as if the author of that nytimes.com opinion piece only started using the web about three years ago.

Public life has been irrevocably changed by social media; now it’s time for something else. We need to stop handing off responsibility for maintaining public space to corporations and algorithms — and give it back to human beings. We may need to slow down ...

It surprises me that people who think about tech seem to be unaware of technologies, such as ActivityPub and the concepts promoted by the IndieWeb. Are those ideas too complicated? If so, then write about how the tech should be simplified for the masses.

https://indieweb.org/indieweb

The IndieWeb is a community of individual personal websites, connected by simple standards, based on the principles of owning your domain, using it as your primary identity, to publish on your own site (optionally syndicate elsewhere), and own your data.

The IndieWeb began in 2010, but it's taking ideas that existed in the 1990s and early aughts and combining them with or updating them for today's digital landscape.

https://indieweb.org/slow_web

slow web is a movement based on deliberately designed web sites focused on more well user-paced experiences instead of real-time, reactive, or frantic experiences, and has principles similar to and compatible with IndieWeb principles.

I should have called my Slow Web Movement idea the Slow Internet Movement, since I usually mention email too. For a personal website commenting system, email works well enough.

http://sawv.org/slow-web-movement

I like the social networking site called micro.blog that launched in 2017. I rarely log into my account though. If I chose to use a social silo, I would choose micro.blog because it uses several IndieWeb concepts, and I can use micro.blog via my personal website here at sawv.org.

I can hook my sawv.org's RSS feed or JSONFeed to my micro.blog account. When I create a new post at sawv.org, it appears at micro.blog, seen by people who follow me. And if those followers choose to respond via micro.blog, their responses get backfed to sawv.org via the Webmention protocol, since micro.blog supports sending Webmentions, and the code that I use at sawv.org accepts Webmentions.

But micro.blog users do not have to use the service this way. For a fee, users can use micro.blog as a CMS-hosting service. Their personal websites are hosted at micro.blog. With the way that I use micro.blog, I do not have to pay the fee.

micro.blog is a slowly growing social network. How come the authors of the two opinion pieces did not mention their experiences with micro.blog?

Both opinion pieces were disappointing because the authors ignored the open web. And based upon the discussions attached to the Mediagazer links, some people agreed with the authors opinions, which is sad.

C'est la vie.

Anyway, here are a few selected links that exist within my Slow Web Movement webpage.

Somewhat related:

Oh yeah:

Here's the Mediagazer link for the nytimes.com opinion piece and excerpts from the attached discussion.

https://mediagazer.com/191202/p10#a191202p10

David M. Perry / @lollardfish: Bring back blogging with moderated comment sections https://twitter.com/...

Yes to the blogging idea but hale no to the moderated comment sections. Many personal website authors dropped their commenting mechanisms early this decade because it became too much work.

https://marco.org/2010/06/16/comments

I don’t see my writing as a collaborative effort, and I don’t see my site as a community in which I need to enable internal discussion via comments. A blog post is a one-to-many broadcast.

We already have a widespread many-to-one feedback: email. So that’s the feedback system that I allow on my site. Anyone can email me, and I will read it.

Those who truly want to start a discussion usually have their own blogs, so they can write their commentary to their audience.

I don’t make it difficult to give me feedback. What’s not possible is reaching my audience, on my site, without my permission.

Back to the comments associated with the Mediagazer link.

Riley Black / @laelaps: This piece by @Annaleen made me want to delete my social media apps and go outside, which is entirely a good thing. https://twitter.com/...

Yeah right.

Here's the Techmeme link to the same story. I'll excerpt some of the discussions.

https://www.techmeme.com/191201/p9#a191201p9

Nicholas Grossman / @ngrossman81: This article accidentally shows why the internet won't get better. The solution's like fixing the drug war with “what if there was no cocaine?” Says “after the social media era is over,” as if it's a fad. It's like TV. It'll change, but it's not going away

But again, the authors of the cjr.org and nytimes.com opinions seem to be advocating for new silos.

Scott Greenfield / @scottgreenfield: Is there no one at the NYT who gasps the concept of a profitable business model? The future of social media cannot be companies that have no revenue stream. How is this hard to understand?

If new silos are proposed, then yes, they will need to be funded. Will that be done through grants, donations, fundraisers, feeds, ads, taxpayer dollars, what?

The IndieWeb means individuals pay their own way. I guess this is why the masses prefer the silos because they are "free" to use. No domain name fees. No fees for CMS-hosting nor server-hosting.

Katherine Gray / @thiskat: We have the roadmap. We still have online interest groups, blogs, RSS feeds, community managers, meetups, and conferences. People and content are not the problems. The problem is how to pay for the distribution.

Pay for distribution? I wonder if that person is discussing paying for reach to attract an audience. Silos are gonna silo.

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