I can’t agree more with the opening line from the article…
“Social media is broken. It has poisoned the way we communicate with each other and undermined the democratic process.”
Although, I would add the web and even communication technology as a whole are broken. I even have to wonder how many times media technology (even from the days of the Gutenberg press) has undermined the democratic process. But this article is a great lens to take on the difficult question of where can we go from here because from this point forward all of media technology will be connected in some way or another so the overarching question is what are we to do about the connection? Social seems to be the canary in the coal mine so it is a great place to center this conversation around. (There are actually quite a few canaries these days)
What is at the center of all of this then? The following quotes from the article says it all to me…..
“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.”
“Outrage and deception capture our attention, and attention sells ads. “At a business model level, they are ad networks parasitic on human connection.”
So how we communicate as an evolved species has turned into a business model to monetize the interests of the participants. This has become more and more apparent since the days of Web 2.0, has it not? With over half of the world’s population connected to the internet there are a lot of legs left on this beast if it is allowed to continue to maintain its course.
What is the solution then? There are a few offered in the article.
I wholeheartedly agree with the following sentiment…
“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. “
I remember when the word curation was all the buzz back in the blogging heyday then social came along and started to do the heavy lifting for us. But I do have a problem with the notion of replacing AI with human curators and "slowing" down the exchange as posited in the article as I believe the cat is too far out of the bag for this to become a reality. Instead, I believe we should focus on decentralized AI outside the control of the providers within a decentralized connection. Decentralization is not a panacea but putting the controls of user experiences back in the hands of the users is a baseline to build more resonant experiences off of in my humble opinion.
All in all, the only silos of significance should be our own where we allow or invite others into based on OUR interests. Ads could run in our silos but only on our terms and value could be exchanged. We could have app layers interact with our silos allowing us to mash up events with contacts with data with comments with passages from media, etc. And AI could help us tune these experiences to help us discover what serves us the best. Maybe this sounds fanciful but there are technologists working on this.
Yes social media and the web is broken and WE need to fix it as the amount of untapped potential in the connection is what real progress could be made of. Curious to hear the thoughts of others on this.