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    • If they’re still trying to use their personal profiles to communicate with people online at large, reduce their personal organic reach and drive them to niche topic groups, where their activity is much easier to categorize for ad sales. Then, overload their notifications with group activity, making it hard for them to follow organic personal conversations, and continue to enforce their predetermined tribalism.

      You pack a lot of insights into a short three minute read, Mr. Jenkins. There is definitely a firehose mentality to the social platform: add more and more friends or follow more and more people—and hope they follow you back! The Pavlovian “You’ve got mail!” salivation response to notifications is inherent to most platforms I frequent, but some actually have controls to reduce the noise: if one of my friends tags me on a tweet and it goes viral, I love that Twitter allows me to mute the conversation for future notifications of likes and retweets.

      But having read your article, which is simultaneously sarcastic and insightful, and having shared my reflections on the article, I’m curious what the inciting incident was to get you to here. Was it the Google+ shutdown? Or something else?

      I would say that I don’t mean to pry, but as one sarcastic to another: why lie? 😏

    • The G+ shut down was certainly part of it, but not the only part. I've been exploring social platforms trying to figure out which ones actually foster the right blend of conversation and population necessary to do it right. Cake does very much right, but I think I find that I have to have something to say here, where as I'm likely to just spout off any old nonsense in my head on others.

    • Cake does very much right, but I think I find that I have to have something to say here, where as I'm likely to just spout off any old nonsense in my head on others.

      I was reading today (no clue where) about how the early Instagram community created an unspoken rule that you only post once per day, the idea being that you only post your best stuff.

      That seems to be the unwritten rule for many people here who lurk for weeks and then contribute when they have something that’s more than “shooting the breeze” to share. It creates an environment where deeper and more meaningful conversations occur, but it does leave things lacking if you’re looking for a deeper connection with fellow users.

      I think some, like @lidja and myself, would love to have private messaging on Cake. In fact, I think Cake could be the primary forum for many people if you could DM someone: my maths post today on End of Course Review was put together via Twitter DM or via my email address shared privately via DM.

      However, for me it seems like I need more than one forum type to meet my social needs, Cake and Twitter (and possibly Mastodon if it picks up over the summer).

    • Loved it, Chris. Have you guys listened to or read this interview by Kara Swisher of Tristan Harris? I thought it was one of the most insightful things I've ever heard. I have been planning to write up some of the things I learned but I got the feedback that I shouldn't comment too much about social media on Cake because it looks like competitor bashing. And yet I'm obsessed with it because we don't want to build something we'll regret down the line. We want to absorb all the lessons we can.

    • I got the feedback that I shouldn't comment too much about social media on Cake because it looks like competitor bashing.

      I beg to disagree. Because of your intense interest and your need to make practical applications of the information, I find your observations quite thought-provoking—not bashing-ish (bash-full?).

    • I think the conundrum is in striving to be sincere while making money off social media, which really is making money off of humans inherently needy and sometime addictive behavior, wether it's a true necessity to have someone, a modicum of a friend, or desperate cry for help. Zucky gets it, and prefects it continuously.

    • I beg to disagree. Because of your intense interest and your need to make practical applications of the information, I find your observations quite thought-provoking—not bashing-ish (bash-full?).

      I beg to disagree with your beg to disagree—is that a thing?

      I was talking to a family member who uses Facebook and they said the last thing they want to do is to go to another platform and read about how horrible Facebook is with user privacy. They were blunt and said that they know all about the privacy issues but they were still going to use Facebook because it’s how they keep up with new pictures from their kids and grandkids.

      One of the complaints lodged about MeWe’s founder is that he continually bashes Facebook, almost to the point of appearing to have an inferiority complex.

      I think that starting another Facebook bashing conversation here just turns off potential new users who enjoy Facebook. It also, I think, turns off influencers who have built a successful following on Facebook groups. Ideally, some of those influencers will bring their followers to Cake: think Tony Hawk doing a regular panel with X Games stars. But shitting on the competition is counterproductive, imho.

      I also think that starting another Facebook bashing conversation is inherently lazy. It’s in the news almost weekly, sometimes daily, so it becomes low hanging fruit.

      What about having a discussion on the rest of the tech sector?

      Such as

      Apple employees have recently received Apple credit cards. Will Apple gobble up banking next? Should it preemptively have anti-monopoly guardrails put on it? Do we need a Glass-Steagel Act for the 21st Century?

      Carbon capture technology is probably less than a decade away from being scalable if they can get the price down to $50 a ton. The real problem is what do you do with it? According to the MIT Technology Review (Mar/April), “converting 20% of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere into carbonate rock would generate a layer of rock 50 centimeters (20 inches) thick covering a million square kilometers (390,000 square miles)—an area the size of Egypt.” cc: @markmulligan

      U.S. regulators just approved a new Silicon Valley stock exchange. It’s supposed to reduce the short term pressures on companies, making it attractive to money-losing hot startups who want the breathing room to be long-term focused. What tech companies are likely to join it? What are the trade-offs for future investments and growth?

      I would love to have a conversation started on any of the above with Chris sharing his considerable knowledge and insights.

      But maybe that’s just me.

      🙃

    • OK, so you just convinced me that DM panels is a great idea. @Chris can invite me to a “Facebook: WTF” DM panel any day. 😉

    • @apm, where’s the source footnote for this one?

      U.S. regulators just approved a new Silicon Valley stock exchange. It’s supposed to reduce the short term pressures on companies, making it attractive to money-losing hot startups who want the breathing room to be long-term focused. What tech companies are likely to join it? What are the trade-offs for future investments and growth?

    • how horrible Facebook is with user privacy

      I think you're right. Most consumers really don't care about privacy and get tired of hearing about it.

      The Tristan interview is not about user privacy or Facebook, it's about YouTube and AI. The thing is, 70% of all YouTube views are from their recommendation engine. Its goal is to generate the most viewing time and it has learned that if you search for vaccines, it's very likely you're a concerned parent. It also knows that if you believe in one conspiracy theory like the flat earth, there's a 90% chance you'll believe vaccines are harmful, and that you mistrust institutions & scientist and will want to view other videos about that mistrust.

      And that is how it has become so successful at helping to recruit half of all members of the white right and almost all the members of the rapidly rising flat earth movement.

      These insights are very important to us because we've thought about tapping into Amazon's or Google's recommendation engines.

      Also, networks based on following people, like Instagram, tend to devolve into vanity, performing for your user base. Networks based on following interests, like Reddit, are primarily driven by curiosity.

    • I think some, like @lidja and myself, would love to have private messaging on Cake.

      This is one of those topics that generates tremendous angst among software engineers. I have been all for it from day 1 of Cake but our early engineers had a lot of angst about it so I backed down for a long time. They were legitimately worried people could do bad things with private messages.

      My view is we have them on Adventure Rider and they are a huge boon. I can't imagine it succeeding without them. It gives people the opportunity to plan rides and a thousand other practical things that they don't want to clutter a public thread with.

      I'm not aware of any incidents. They are not encrypted, which I think is a good thing because I can tell our members that I could see them if I wanted, I just have never done so. But if I felt someone was doing something terrible, like planning a mass shooting or a genocide, which the encrypted networks are perfect for, then I would look. So use Signal for awfulness and it will stay secure until fast computers and AI let people read them sometime in the future.

      We've chosen to do multiple image uploads per post first before getting to private messages, but I think they will be incredibly important when we can deploy them.

    • Background first; Point Later

      For several decades I have seen numerous examples of reporting by those who are outside of the interest on which they are reporting.

      Examples

      When Fantasy Role Playing Games first began to be popular, the news stories on them were based on the ignorance of the reporters and a desire to sensationalize.

      When Computer Security first became news efforts to describe attempts to compromise security were called "cracking" but it was not too long before the news media began using the word "hacking" even though "hacking" was used by IT insiders to discuss piecemeal work wrounds.

      In the 1990s, the Y2K issue was originally due to a historical failure to use four digits to enter information into databases and spreadsheets. But it was not too long before journalists began saying that January 1, 2000 was not only Y2K day but was also the first day of the new millenium. If they had been focused on informing the public they would have been teaching the public that the new millenium began on January 1, 2001.

      And don't get me started on how journalists misrepresent the contents of papers published by scientists.

      And now to my point.

      Any attempts to differentiate between social media platforms tends to be obfuscated by the news media. You made a valid distinction between Instagram and Reddit. In 2011, there were many Google+ users who tried to make a similar distinction between FB and G+. But the news media was focused on telling everyone that G+ was nothing but an FB wannabe.

      I have for a very long time viewed the mainstream media as an enemy of accurate dissemination of new information to the public. If some major news outlet ever decides to report on Cake you may want to be prepared for damage control.

    • And that is how it has become so successful at helping to recruit half of all members of the white right and almost all the members of the rapidly rising flat earth movement.

      Step 1 was Zuckerberg's first accomplishment.

    • But the news media was focused on telling everyone that G+ was nothing but an FB wannabe.

      Uninformed mass media killed G+ better than any competitor could have.

    • That was a great article, very much in alignment with what I'm describing.

      There's another casualty in this battle: long form writing. The push to video and emojiform text means that outside of school, the next generation has little reason to construct a thoughtful paragraph; there's no thoughtful review of what you've written, with an edit to provide clarity. There is only posing, filters, lip syncing to a popular song while waving a blunt around.

      The very act of being thoughtful is being erased by this new paradigm.

    • There's another casualty in this battle: long form writing.

      In the early 2000s, when Fatbrain Books was bought by Barnes & Noble because Amazon's stock had collapsed and the world believed brick & mortar stores were real businesses and dot bombs were a joke, I knew Jeff Bezos and the Riggio brothers (who ran B&N) very well (I had founded Fatbrain). We were all terrified that books would go into steep decline because Millenials had video games to play and the Internet to read.

      A host of new social media and news sites saw the trend and confidently bet on shorter content — BuzzFeed, Twitter, and SnapChat, for example. I realized I was a dinosaur because I listened to longer-form audio like those obscure things called podcasts, which were definitely not taking off, and I still read dinosaur publications like Wired and The Atlantic.

      But here we are a decade and a half later and it turns out books are a thing, podcasts are on fire, Wired is crushing it, 10-episode TV is all the rage, and John Oliver's 20-minute Last Week Tonight episodes are getting megaviews on YouTube. But Buzzfeed & Snap are struggling with twitchy content.

      Thank God. Sometimes it takes more than short-form content to tell a great story.

    • The vast majority of social content now is in picture or video form. When I say casualty, I'm referring to usage by individuals, not by content producers.

      Publishers will always use text, because people like to read. But increasingly, people don't like to write, and especially not in a thoughtful way.

    • the news media was focused on telling everyone that G+ was nothing but an FB wannabe.

      Yeah, that was a shame. I wonder, though, how much of that was driven by what we want to read. A few days ago I attended a mixer in SF and April Glaser was there, who covers the tech beat for Slate. She had spent the day covering Uber strikes, a big story.

      She is utterly fascinating. I don't know where 2.5 hours went as we talked all things social media, but mixing with anyone else got away from us. She has very deep insights. However, journalists have to write the stories we humans will read — the ones the algorithms will surface — just like eateries have to serve the food we'll actually buy (pizza & beer). And the stories that got surfaced were about the clash of the titans, the epic bloody fight to the death for supremacy between giants Facebook and Google. We humans can't resist a good fight; we want to see blood. The algorithms know that about us. Those stories made us feel Google+ was a head-on competitor to Facebook.

      I'll give a personal example. I funded and helped make a short YouTube film about photography from the International Space Station. We got NASA to cooperate and send it out in all their social media channels. I saw that it got voted up high on Reddit the other day as "a masterpiece." I have cried each time I've watched it (probably 25 times) because it shows how beautiful earth is. It shows the earth really is round. In this case, me and filmmaker Anton Lorimer were the journalists.

      But YouTube's AI knows: we humans have a weakness for stories about NASA exposed: decades of coverup revealed. So YouTube's algorithm isn't going to recommend our little film, it recommends the ones that cause us to choose more videos about what else the government is hiding. Do we blame the AI, the news media, or ourselves?

      If anyone wants a diversion from this heavy topic, here's a few minutes of the gorgeous blue round orb we live on. Unlike the AI, I won't link to the conspiracy videos.

    • In some ways the news media is like the internet. Both tend to contain the truth on a known subject somewhere, but the truth is hard to find because of all the misinformation. I did not mean to imply that in the early 1980s that no reporters told the truth about D&D, but that the majority focused on sensationalism.

      Now if journalists and publishers desire to be "The National Inquirer" then go for it. But don't then turn around and get upset when people talk about how unreliable and untrustworthy the overall industry is.

      Every time I hear or read someone speak about the role of journalism in America being the dissemination of reliable information, I feel like rolling my eyes.

      The role of journalism seems to be to acquire more eyeballs.

      Your post about "what we want to read" is basically indicting the majority of the news publishing industry to be more interested in pandering than it is in accurate reporting.

      In my opinion, this is also the reason that the religious world is in the mess that it is in. Religions tend to pander to the cravings of humans and to preach man-made constructs falsely labeled "God" who indulge the desires of mankind instead of trying to get humans to respect God's right to choose. The saying "Attend the church of your choice" implies that "your choice" is one's god.

    • In my opinion, this is also the reason that the religious world is in the mess that it is in. Religions tend to pander to the cravings of humans and to preach man-made constructs falsely labeled "God" who indulge the desires of mankind instead of trying to get humans to respect God's right to choose. The saying "Attend the church of your choice" implies that "your choice" is one's god.

      Sorry, but I gotta call you out—this is soooo off-topic!

    • Here’s the way I see it. Tell me if I’m wrong. If you are a journalist obsessed with the truth, and you get really good at it, you can get a job at a major newspaper for $80,000/year. You’ll have to hustle and write a lot of stories because if you’re truthful the stories you write will look a lot like the ones other reporters write.

      The trouble is, fiction that seems like it could be true is much more profitable across all media. You don’t make much when you produce a documentary.

      So while you hustle to dig for truth and make $80k, Sean Hannity can make fiction that sounds like it could be true and make $26 million/year. That’s the pizza & beer that makes bank, not the broccoli we should want but don’t. The pastors who make stuff up that we want to believe get mansions and private jets compared to the ones who actually go out and serve the poor.

      Fiction can have more compelling heroes & villains & storylines we all want to believe. Algorithms figured that out and created a lot of young billionaires in my neighborhood.