The Ballad of the Blog
Writer Alan Jacobs has some strong words for those of us still using social media:
The decision to be on Twitter (or Facebook, etc.) is not simply a personal choice. It has run-on effects for you but also for others. When you use the big social media platforms you contribute to their power and influence, and you deplete the energy and value of the open web. You make things worse for everyone. I truly believe that. Which is why I’m so obnoxiously repetitive on this point.
Jacobs’ attitude is in line with my previous thoughts on intention and the depersonalization of ‘newsfeed culture.’ The reality of supporting a corporate behemoth that’s up to no good is also something I struggle with. I’ve picked up my Twitter usage over the past few months, not decreased it, telling myself it’s a useful tool for networking. And I’m still paying for Facebook ads on my label releases. I feel like a little part of me dies every time I send a dollar to Facebook.
It’s remarkable that — though admittedly part of a tiny minority — we’re all asking these questions at the same time. And this is a conversation we need to have, whether supporting artists outside of Spotify or finding promotional and networking avenues that don’t involve Facebook. I’m not the only one to plant a flag in these issues. But I’d like the blog to talk more about how we wrestle with the tension between the independent creative community and the corporate interests propped up as gatekeepers. Music’s place in the 21st century, indeed.
We Would Call That a Demon
On a fascinating episode of Douglas Rushkoff’s Team Human podcast, “technologist, futurist, inventor, and mage” Mark Pesce has a fascinating observation about social media’s knack for social engineering:
What is Facebook doing? It’s watching your responses to build a simulation – simulacra, really – of you and then it can check against that simulacra what your emotional state is. Okay, so, it’s built an A.I. that can essentially read and tamper with your emotional state. If this were the 14th century and I talked about evoking something that could then tamper with you emotionally and that you would feed energy that it would feed back to you in a different form – we would call that a demon.
There’s also a meatier-than-usual post on Kottke.org by Tim Carmody about where the web went wrong and how the spirit of blogging might point to the desired way forward:
A lot of the efforts to reshape social media, or to walk away from it in favor of RSS feeds or something else, are really attempts to recapture those utopian elements that were active in the zeitgeist ten, fifteen, and twenty years ago. They still exercise a powerful hold over our collective imagination about what the internet is, and could be, even when they take the form of dashed hopes and stifled dreams.
These days I’m thinking about this stuff all of the time. I know I’m hardly the only one.
Immune to Misinformation
I’m happy that John Green is doing this Crash Course series on Navigating Digital Information. This is important and I look forward to all the episodes.
John recently gave up all social media for a year. Here’s his first-day video and here’s his one-month follow-up. In the