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Re: <nettime> social media critique: next steps?
Patrice Riemens on Sun, 14 Jan 2018 13:49:04 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> social media critique: next steps?

On 2018-01-13 15:36, Geert Lovink wrote:

Following Boris Beaude, but now in a more pessimistic/dystopic interpretation, I am increasingly feeling to live 'the Ends of the Internet'. And the links Geert provides suggest I am not alone. We, of the 'pioneer' generation, are - have been for quite some time - in irreversible retreat, rest only to see that, if possible, it doesn't turn into a Berezina-style rout.

Furthermore I wonder if academic research of our kind has ever had any impact on 'the-debate-at-large'. It is (was) enjoyable in our circles all the same, but is/was probably perceived - if at all - by the 'mainstream' as starkly self-referential. It is thus not surprising at all that now 'prominent industry insiders' suddenly mouth apprehension or worse, 'the world listens' - and can do very little with the message. As Geert writes "(g)oing offline is (...) in fact an option only elites can afford."

Hence I am also none to optimistic on "(w)hat do we have on offer from the perspective of old-school community informatics (...)": not very much, again, even if it brings forth interesting discussions. We surely should continue doing it - against all odds (and to keep our jobs?). AAs far as I am concerned, the "social media debate heating up and becoming mainstream" happens around issues we might have fore-fronted early on, but which are now re-interpreted by other constitunties differently - in a very individualistic way and hapless panic mode, for instance.

'Scaling up' is the eternal dream of actionism. But is it realistic? I agree that exodus is a privilege, but then, for a great number of people, the by now definitely not so new media are completely trivial and unproblematic - till 'something' happens, 'hype and frenzied consternation ensue, but by then most people feel totally powerless - just like the users of old felt when the telephone system (or any other utility) went down.

Tech sovereignty (cf. the sobtech books, recently posted on nettime) is of course what should be practised and achieved - by 'us'. But who seriously believes it will remain other than a minority position? (eventhough I do wish & hope some people do!) And then we will not only have to be able to establish our own infrastructure, but also accept its limitations - the very reason why it won't go mainstream.

Hence I do not think 'Silicon Valley' is that afraid about resistance and - even less - exodus. They are however very concerned about 'reputational damage', but what they fear most is firm government intervention, the very reason why they so much advocate doing away with government, (unless, of course, 'organically' their pocket ...)

Good old political struggle in a new shape then? The chances are slim, but existing. I think it's where we should put our best efforts. But then that approach is not 'kewle' at all, it moves at a snail's pace, it is intensely frustrating, and if not, boring - and usually both.

Just my two old hundred lires ...

Dear all,

social media criticism is clearly reaching a new stage. In the past
months voices from deep inside the industry have made themselves
heard, in particular in response to the fakenews/Russia media drama
and the sneaky ‘behaviour science’ manipulations of social media
users. None of these statements directly referred to the ‘classic’
critique of the past years, let’s say from the nettime circle,
Unlike Us, to established voices such as Nicolas Carr, Andrew Keen and
Shirley Turkle. It’s as if we always have to start all over again.
Most academic research on social media seems to have virtually no
impact on the current debate-at-large. Or am I wrong? Why do Silicon
Valley geeks and investors have so much authority in this case?
Insider-experts are not often seen as neutral observers. We all know
this. These individuals kept their mouth shut for years and years, and
are still deeply involved as investors, employees, consultants etc.
Now that they worry the world should suddenly pay attention?

What should be the radical next steps? Finally the social media debate
is heating up and becoming mainstream. What do we have on offer from
the perspective of old-school community informatics (RIP Michael
Gurstein), German (!) media theory, NL tactical media activism and or
ISEA-type of digital arts? Was this a topic in Leipzig at 24C3? It
seems pointless to say: “We told you so.” How can we scale up and
democratize all the debates and proposals of the past 5-7 years of
those that worked on alternative network architectures? Is the
reasonable, noble and moral appeal a la Tim Berners-Lee the only one
on offer? Going offline is one thing, (and in fact an option only
elites can afford). Self-mastering a la Sloterdijk is a marginal
reform effort from a hyper-individualistic perspective. I still
believe in vital methods to mass delete Facebook accounts. This is in
the end what Silicon Valley tries to prevent at all cost: resistance
and exodus. How can such a momentum be unleashed?

Best, Geert

Antisocial media: why I decided to cut back on Facebook and Instagram


John Battelle on Lost Context: How Did We End Up Here?

Doc Searl: The human solution to Facebook’s machine-produced
problems also won’t work
https://medium.com/ {AT} dsearls/the-human-solution-to-facebooks-machine-produced-problems-also-won-t-work-3364656bc257

Roger McHamee (early FB investor): How to Fix Facebook—Before It
Fixes Us

Chris Taylor: Facebook just became the ultimate dystopia

Joshua Benton: If Facebook stops putting news in front of readers,
will readers bother to go looking for it?
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