Link: How to Fix Facebook

Over at Washington Monthly, Roger McNamee discusses How to Fix Facebook – Before It Fixes Us. It’s a good read, and while I may not agree with all of his suggestions, there’s some very astute observations in there:

This is important, because the internet has lost something very valuable. The early internet was designed to be decentralized. It treated all content and all content owners equally. That equality had value in society, as it kept the playing field level and encouraged new entrants. But decentralization had a cost: no one had an incentive to make internet tools easy to use. Frustrated by those tools, users embraced easy-to-use alternatives from Facebook and Google. This allowed the platforms to centralize the internet, inserting themselves between users and content, effectively imposing a tax on both sides. This is a great business model for Facebook and Google—and convenient in the short term for customers—but we are drowning in evidence that there are costs that society may not be able to afford.

I’m going to try and not keep harping on this — there’s plenty of other things to think about and talk about. I’ve been an advocate for the “indieweb” for a long time, and the current realizations over how algorithmic content curation (with no one driving, no less) through single sources might not have been such a great idea certainly help vindicate the desire for a “smaller,” more independent web. That said, I’m painfully aware of some of the gaps in the indieweb space: many tools have an incredibly high bar for getting started, and several parts of the stack frankly just aren’t getting a lot of attention (the state of web galleries is the source of a semi-annual lament). If we’re going to make a serious stab at “making the internet smaller again,” there’s still a lot for us to do.

Link: The year we wanted the internet to be smaller

Over at The Verge, The year we wanted the internet to be smaller is an article discussing the state of the internet, and how we’re becoming increasingly disillusioned with broad social media (the Facebooks and Twitters and similar), reverting back to blogs, niche communities, and mailing lists. Found via Waxy.org.

Breaking Up with Social Media

Or at the very least, “taking some time apart.”

I’ve been thinking for a while about my relationship with social media (in particular Facebook and Twitter). I’ve been pretty tired of Facebook for quite some time, and have increasingly been feeling the same about Twitter — namely, they’re more outrage machines than valued information sources at this point, and frankly cost more in terms of mental and emotional wellbeing than they’re worth to me.

I’ve decided to take the month of January off from both Twitter and Facebook, entirely. After the month is up, we’ll see how I’m feeling on whether they’re reincorporated into my routine, and to what amount. In the past I’ve limited how much time I spent on FB, taking a sort of “vacation”, but it had ways of creeping back in and starting to absorb more of my time again, so this time I’m opting to remove myself from it entirely.

If you need to get ahold of me, there are lots of ways to do so (heck, slide into my DMs on either service and I’ll likely still see it). I’ll also be turning off the auto-crossposting this blog does, so if you do want to keep up with my sporadic posts, I’d suggest subscribing either via RSS or email.

Link: Stop Using Facebook and start using your browser

Via Kottke.org, an article on Mashable about how we should stop relying on Facebook (and Twitter) to feed us content, and should try and go back to actually visiting sites that interest us. Get out of the algorithm for a hot second, for a variety of reasons — not the least of which being that you’ll (hopefully) get more diversity of thought on a wider variety of topics, rather than just what Facebook’s algorithm thinks you should see.

It’s definitely not simple, nor insignificant. By choosing to be a reader of websites whose voices and ideas you’re fundamentally interested in and care about, you’re taking control.

And by doing that, you’ll chip away at the incentive publishers have to create headlines and stories weaponized for the purpose of sharing on social media. You’ll be stripping away at the motivation for websites everywhere (including this one) to make dumb hollow mindgarbage. At the same time, you’ll increase the incentive for these websites to be (if nothing else) more consistent and less desperate for your attention.