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Social mediating

2 min read

I'm still thinking about the social layer that connects people in communities. It's not as simple as just rebooting Twitter. Nor is it as simple as just "hey! Everyone run your own Known site and we can connect and cross-post and it will be awesome!". There is something else needed. One part domain-of-ones-own, one part syndication, one part aggregation, and a few parts I have no clue about or even what they are.

Cathy Kelly's article on nostalgia kind of knocked some sense into me - this isn't about restoring some perfect web-we-had. We never had it, and what we had wasn't perfect.

There are many interesting projects - but they are in the necessary-but-not-sufficient realm. Tools are needed - Mastodon and GNU Social are important, but what is missing is a larger social movement to reclaim individual autonomy while simultaneously coming together in organic communities and networks. If we all just abandon Twitter and Facebook without thinking through how to keep meaningfully connected, we've lost an important sense of social cohesion. Sure, it's pretty fucked up in Twitter/Facebook-land, but it may be better than nothing. Without some greater social context, we devolve into sociopathology.

So. How to

1) be meaningfully connected to people we care about, in various ways as appropriate

2) publish relevant bits of our own digital lives in a way that we maintain control and autonomy

That smells a bit like the blogosphere of olde, but nostalgia is clouding those memories. The blogosphere was kind of amazing, and also kind of limiting. There was (is?) a huge barrier for entry. And the social connections were pretty superficial.

How to take the good parts of what we've learned in the last decade, smush it together with the best parts of digital life from the last 40 years, and do it in a way that might last as more than a passing fad? I have no idea. Maybe it's not even a thing that's needed.