Decentralised web: Can “Indie” Social Media Save Us?

Always a better option!

I stumbled on this post from yet another link on “Indie-web”. Decentralisation is the norm and you’d find hippies mingling with others trying to bring “meaning” to others lives. In reality, they are the ones who missed the gravy train of VC funded cash, bling and flashlights of the silicon valley.

I have rallied against Twitter several times and have been exhorting colleagues to stay away from it for a meaningful dialogue elsewhere. Here’s something I’d highlight with my emphasis:

When you confine your online activities to so-called walled-garden networks, you end up using interfaces that benefit the owners of those networks; on social media, this means that you are forced to choose among what the techno-philosopher Jaron Lanier has called “multiple-choice identities.” According to this way of thinking, sites like Facebook and Instagram encourage conformism because it makes your data easier to process and monetize. This creates the exhausting sense that you’re a worker in a data factory rather than a three-dimensional individual trying to express yourself and connect with other real people in an organic way online.

Can “Indie” Social Media Save Us? | The New Yorker

I’d recommend that you read the excellent long form. I have summarised that for your benefit though:

  • I was both pleased and chagrined by the irony of the fact that my anti-social-media talk had found such a large audience on social media.
  • I think of this episode as typical of the conflicted relationships many of us have with Facebook, Instagram, and other social-media platforms.
  • On the one hand, we’ve grown wary of the so-called attention economy, which, in the name of corporate profits, exploits our psychological vulnerabilities in ways that corrode social life, diminish privacy, weaken civic cohesion, and make us vulnerable to manipulation.
  • But we also benefit from social media and hesitate to disengage from it completely.
  • Even as we dream of abandoning social media, we search for ways to redeem it.
  • In recent months, some of the biggest social-media companies have begun searching for this redemption, too.
  • All of these approaches assume that the reformation of social media will be an intricate, lengthy, and incremental process involving lawyers, Ph.D.s, and government experts.
  • The movement’s affiliates are developing their own social-media platforms, which they say will preserve what’s good about social media while jettisoning what’s bad.
  • They hope to rebuild social media according to principles that are less corporate and more humane.
  • Proponents of the IndieWeb offer a fairly straightforward analysis of our current social-media crisis.
  • When you confine your online activities to so-called walled-garden networks, you end up using interfaces that benefit the owners of those networks; on social media, this means that you are forced to choose among what the techno-philosopher Jaron Lanier has called “multiple-choice identities.” According to this way of thinking, sites like Facebook and Instagram encourage conformism because it makes your data easier to process and monetize.
  • For the past twelve years, I’ve hosted my personal blog using a server that I lease in a Michigan data center; I’ve enjoyed knowing that I own what I post there and that no one is trying to monetize my data or exploit my attention.
  • To create social platforms that work on servers owned by users rather than big corporations, the IndieWeb developers have had to solve a tricky technical problem: decentralization.
  • On its surface, Micro.blog looks a lot like Twitter or Instagram; you can follow users and see their posts sorted into a time line, and, if you like a post, you can send a reply that everyone can see.
  • Even as it offers a familiar interface, though, everyone posting to Micro.blog does so on his or her own domain hosted on Micro.blog’s server or on their own personal server.
  • Mastodon, another popular IndieWeb service, exists in the middle ground between centralized and decentralized social media.
  • Founded, in 2016, by a young programmer named Eugen Rochko, Mastodon offers an experience similar to the one available on existing social-media plat