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YESTERDAY, WE saw the dark side of today’s social media, as detailed in Annalee Newitz’s Quest for Better Social Media, in The New York Times, December 1, 2019. Today in Part 2, she shares thoughts on improving matters.
Curate Your Own. Newitz writes, “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. Your online profile would begin with everything and everyone blocked by default.”
“This,” Newitz continues, “would be a first line of defense against viral falsehood, as well as mobs of strangers or bots attacking someone they disagree with.”
Safe Real-Life Gatherings. “As Erika Hall pointed out,” Newitz says, “we have centuries of experience designing real-life spaces where people gather safely.”
“After the social media age is over,” Newitz says, “we’ll have the opportunity to rebuild our damaged public sphere by creating digital public spaces that imitate actual town halls, concert venues, and pedestrian-friendly sidewalks.”
She continues, “That’s because in real life, we have more control over who will come into our private lives, and who will learn intimate details about us. We seek out information, rather than having it jammed into our faces without context or consent.”
Slow Media. UCLA professor Safiya Umoja Noble proposes what she called “slow media” as an improvement over the current situation. “That slowness,” Newitz says, “would give human moderators or curators time to review content… …they could behave like old-fashioned newspaper editors, fact-checking….”
What a novel idea: checking for facts.
“The key to slow media,” Newitz writes, “ is that it puts humans back in control for the information they share.”
A PBS Model. Self-curators would no longer be (non-consenting) products for social media to peddle. So where’s the necessary income?
“This could take many forms,” Newitz says. “Crowdfunding could create a public broadcasting version…. There would also be a rich market for companies that design apps or devices to help people curate the content and people in their social networks.”
“Public life,” Newitz concludes, “has been irrevocably changed by social media; now it’s time for something else. We need to stop handing off responsibility for maintaining public space to corporations and algorithms—and give it back to human beings.”
Speaking as a Facebook algorithmically defined non-person, “Amen to that.” ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2019