possible principles of interest
epistemic status: spitballing
local by default
This doesn’t necessarily mean physically local, though I have a lot of thoughts about that as well. Think about how on Twitter, if you get started following comedians and celebrities, it’s pretty hard to get into the groove of the platform. Hook into the network of, say, women backend devs with strong opinions on mechanical keyboards, though, and you will start to see the interactions that make Twitter more than an SMS broadcast. What’s the difference? Those backend folks, they follow each other, so you are introduced to more of them through the ones you already know. That’s a kind of social network locality, I think.
There can still be content you want to present to the world–but patterns around this shouldn’t elide the difference between sharing something with your friends and sharing it with Everyone. There should be friction in the conversion–real speed bumps to help people be thoughtful about this distinction. Prompting could also go the other way. “Your friends loved XYZ post. Want to share it more widely?” only where appropriate. Context collapse: it shouldn’t feel the same to DM someone as to message into a group chat of hundreds.
Re: geographic locality: why was YikYak a cesspool? Why is Nextdoor?
vernacular (to combat content collapse)
Still crystallizing some thoughts here, but I believe strongly in web experiences communicating more than content. Not everything should be Wordpress. Not everything should be handwritten HTML. Myspace profiles were Good, Actually. I probably need to read more about vernacular architecture in order to make the comparison properly.
What are ‘local materials’ in a digital world?
algorithms to accommodate asynchrony, not always-on engagement
Algorithms that order content in ways other than chronological shouldn’t be aiming to suck us into endless scrolling, but should help us feel like we’re all caught up. “Hey, I noticed you haven’t logged in in a while–here’s what you missed that mattered.” How can this be transparent to the user?
identity: plural, but meaningful
Real Name Policies are terrible. The Internet ought to be a place where we can present different facets of our selves in different contexts. At the same time, cost-free anonymity promotes a lot of griefing. Reputational systems are really interesting – though probably overengineering what ought to be communicated by people in words. (“I know so-and-so, his articles on this are good…”)
the internet is full of places
I want to briefly bring attention to the fact that personal sites are very much like physical places, and many have acknowledged that explicitly. I don’t want to just browse the web, I want to surf and explore it! Think about how you got here. Maybe someone sent you a direct link to this page (they bought you a taxi?) or maybe you discovered it yourself (wandering down some corridor from my homepage?), but either way, you travelled.
The internet is a kind of architecture, and like architecture, it is designed to make us move through it in a certain way. Personal sites are appealing to me because they bring attention to that fact through their lack of standardization.
Really simmering with spatial metaphor on the internet and how one feels about it is a great way to think more deeply and creatively about what the internet can be. Metaphor like this also means that we don’t have to pretend the internet is entirely sui generis; whatever our civilizations have learned about architecture or libraries or etc. can still be usefully applied.