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Re: <nettime> "Too bad your great ideas will never work."
Molly Hankwitz on Thu, 14 Sep 2017 22:47:11 +0200 (CEST)


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Re: <nettime> "Too bad your great ideas will never work."


 

Responding to the article of Bay Area doom and gloom posted by Geert and discussed by Morlock:

<Example: loss of individual work opportunity as evidence that decentralized social networks will not work?> “And without Facebook credentials, York could not access apps like Spotify and Tinder. Tick off Facebook and you may be unable to work, date, or listen to music. York’s suspension [from her work] highlights the ever-expanding ways in which we now rely on large private platforms to facilitate our online activities.” -

<Where have these writers been? Users regularly critique the policies of FB. >”The platforms that host and inform our networked public sphere are unelected, unaccountable,[?] and often impossible to audit or oversee. {good point, though, this gets criticized frequently]”

<free speech commentary> “In response, there is a growing movement among free speech advocates to create new technology to address these concerns. [do we need new technology or new social forms of organization which can be expressed through technologies which, for instance, allow us to elect, account, audit and oversee?;”

<authors’ snidely reject a “return” to “the good old days”>”Early web pioneers like Brewster Kahle have called for ways we might “lock the web open” with code, enabling peer-to-peer interactions in place of mediated private platforms. The idea is to return to the good old days of the early '90’s web, when users published content directly in a user-friendly decentralized fashion, without the need for corporate intermediaries and their aspirational approach.” (what?}

This is Wired magazine’s weirdly concentric emphasis on freedom of _expression_, “working” opportunities,[ and notice they chose a woman’s story] and, moreover, most importantly, individual experience and apology for capitalism…leaving off the growing movement around politics of ‘platform cooperativism’ and corresponding model theory. (“Ours to Code, Ours to Own” eds. T Scholz/ N. Schneider). Wired authors don’t’ mention this open discourse, of course, – though Scholz and friends thought may well be driving  initiatives like Mastodon, Blockstack, Steemit, Diaspora and FreedomBox as potential “alternatives.”

Problem is language, once again! – “decentralization” meant something political in the good old days of the counterculture – getting away from heads and hierarchies, maybe to a fault but it can’t just be ridden like a horse through time -  as did/does “alternative”. This language is getting old and stale way of looking at a counterculture in a different time, one without smart tools and Web 4.0 and one, arguably, trying to behead a different monster all together – from which we escaped to some extent, yet now that escape has morphed into new forms which are starting to sag and get misshapen. You can’t just make a cool-sounding, ad free, marketing free network with the “likeability” of Facebook and call it Mastodon and have flocks of users. Isn’t it a question of depth and political commitment? You don’t just wear black to the party.

As the authors point out, Facebook makes it dead-easy to be a dummie and FB like Twitter, Pintarest (gag) are heavily coded and integrated webspaces, increasingly dependent upon integrating user data from their complimentary platforms. But, aren’t social networks really dependent upon the relationships which found them? And lets’ face it, liking on FB is not a “relationship” except where something exists already or  is actually growing.  Social network centralized or decentralized, does it matter?  Unfortunately the models of anarchical organization are rarely presented in social discussion on the Internet – we lapse into binaries of centralized/decentralized. It all will matter only if we don’t tritely replace one form of social organization for another without a politics. It’s the preferences and politics of the social network  form that makes inclusion, for instance, and, for that matter, depth and meaning at all, literally, possible. Therefore, superficial accounts of place seem arbitrary and annoying. (The map as locator of local trends.)And while megaplatforms may be governed by corporate centralization and try to govern our “decentralizations” of social meaning such as transference of idea from user-to-user in cooperative and critical directions (by surveillance and market-data gathering exploitation), they don’t exploit us dummie-users any more than we let them - as demonstrated in one of the larger economies to emerge from Facebook and Twitter interaction (I realize this is old hat): the Tunisian uprising and Arab Spring. With these events social media (term is ironic) was one accelerator for real-time social –and successful -- action. The many debriefings on these uprisings also produced some of the first popular understanding that FB and Twitter, etc. were state surveillance apparati which could be shut down and/or censored. (Cat chases tale – to use or not to use)

The immense historic American women’s march in Washington and cities, after our inauguration, and capacity for our movement to have international “linking” and “connecting” with women in other nations around their marches, was completely, positively enabled by both Facebook and Twitter. The problem here is not only size of platform, or even of corporate economy underlying the platform. The problem is also, as law suit from Spain around use of data emerges, the globalizing effect of these platforms – both the “problem” for governments that social platforms spawn revolutionary activity, as well as the globalization problem of relentless exploitation. (see critiques of pre-platform Internet  expansion into third world).

Techno-cultural architecture capable of socializing autonomous networks in an open source landscape? Corporate mega-platforms surely aren’t that. But, rather, if they have any use at all, they might be seen as predatory dinosaurs which will eventually become bigger than their food source, and also as myopic indicators of trends in “the personal” v. mass hallucinatory privatization of the web.  

Tools and architectures to build autonomous interrelated  resistance to privatization of the web is an unequivocally great idea. Wasn’t that the good old days of online communities as independent cultures? Can it be done that we can open up interactivity from the stupefying, sophomoric clicking and liking which we know kills us and our social engagement? Can autonomous spaces work successfully enough to draw users away from the Zuckerbergian knowledge-economy towards a non-exploitative, peoples-knowledge economy?

While platform cooperativism is being grown as an idea and taught and accepted as a movement towards a different web/internet, there is room for digital social resistance  on Facebook, and reason to use these mega-monopoly platform systems – they are labs for counter-culture activity - (adding hashtag terms to posts to socialize the medium, creating visual tactical actions in spurts of temporary autonomy, trading mailing addresses and congressional phone numbers, trading tools and hitching rides, deriving productive use). And we can look at artists’ designed platforms such as water-wheel.net which was a cooperative web-based performance space and new media archive about the precious global resource of water, or look at Third Space Network, Randall Packer’s social broadcasting project.

---

Some info on platform coop direction in webdev -

https://platform.coop/

https://www.thenews.coop/112955/topic/technology/open-2017-conference-platform-cooperatives/

https://www.socialenterprisemark.org.uk/se-event/open-2017-platform-co-operatives-conference/

https://medium.com/ {AT} trebors/platform-cooperativism-vs-the-sharing-economy-2ea737f1b5ad

water-wheel.net

water-wheel.net (environmental artistic curatorial online social network over water)

Third space network/Randall Packer  - social broadcasting.

 

 


On Thu, Sep 14, 2017 at 4:17 AM, Felix Stalder <felix {AT} openflows.com> wrote:


On 2017-09-14 08:33, Morlock Elloi wrote:
> The Internet did give us what majority always wanted - uniform
> enforcement of sub-mediocrity and conformity. Enjoy. Or run httpd. There
> is nothing in-between.


I'm not sure about this. There are lots of things in the middle, if you
leave the what-I-can-do-as-an-individual-perspective. One is called
regulation. That fact that social networks are virtual monopolies, or
better, a collection of walled gardens that make it as hard as possible
to climb the walls, is not what people wanted or was it in anyway
embedded in the technology (network-effect), but techno-politically
generated.

The more the FB and the rest manage to bring into their walled space
(eg. instant articles), the higher to costs of leaving will be for
anyone, no matter how much they might hate it, or be discriminated
against. It's how protocols as a source of power work.

Thus, the political answer should also be on that level. One relatively
straight-forward way would be to enforce interoperability in networks,
like the type that was designed into the early protocols, of smtp and http.

The tool would be anti-trust and competition laws, which were used in
the 1980s to break up telecom monopolies. Buzzfeed floated the idea a
few days ago that breaking up the internet monopolies might be a project
that the "radical left" and the "far right" (aka Sanders and Bannon)
might agree on.

https://www.buzzfeed.com/bensmith/theres-blood-in-the-water-in-silicon-valley

Politically speaking, the US, this is wishful thinking, at least for the
foreseeable future. But still, it's out there and can be raised in
polite conversations.

As far as the EU is concerned, this is slightly less wishful, as their
is no European champion to protect. Unfortunately, there are also no
European upstarts that might profit from such a move, so it's not on the
table. But if the EU ever decided to do it, they would be the only
agency powerful enough to do it.

But I think it's really important not to forget that there is nothing
magical or deterministic, but good ol' corporate power.

Felix






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