Facebook is actually my least favorite place on the whole internet. It often turns into the shittiest version of a town hall where everyone is just bitching within cordoned off marketing corrals of political ideology, stuffing late stage capitalism down your throats in a last hurrah of centralized marketplaces. You can't even program your news feed to show you the info you actually want.
I knew all this going into Facebook, which is why I originally created a satirical profile under a different pseudonym. Yeah right I am going to give my personal information to the public. Also at the time I didn't want my political expressions to be censored or squelshed by my conservative family members. I didn't have the emotional and intellectual maturity at the time to talk with them about my views in a constructive way. As is the case with the majority of people on platforms like Facebook and Twitter today. They are not designed for the depth of dialogue and careful moderation, as well as successful collaborative mobilization that will be required for humanity to make its way through today's problems. Further, as a political activist, managing one's identity is often a careful operation. In this sense and many others I think Facebook actually suppresses political progress.
To emotionally and intellectually digest information on Facebook, I think the user needs a lot more blank space. The platform literally squeezes commerce into every square millimeter it can get away with. On the right hand sidebar right now, I have a bad version of Craigslist showing me random stuff for sale near me, there is a top navigation bar, and a side navigation bar, a central feed and a ride sidebar, all packed to the gills with what to me seems like a completely chaotic display of information. I nearly never click anything on the left or right. And this is without the far right ticker showing you realtime friend activity. It is so bonkers! I hate looking at it. It actually makes my face look different afterward. I look like I just saw the psychic detritus of thousands of traumatized people talking into a platform centered around ego and commerce, displayed on devices that put people in variously hunched over fetal positions.
I wish I could say I'm done with the platform right now. I hope I'm close, or at least will be able to re-center my content creation outside of it and use it more as a channel. I happen to be really good at writing engaging Facebook posts, and it has been a useful social utility for me in making connections with fellow creative activists. My head still feels like garbage after I'm on it, and I honestly feel terrible the entire day after making a post to it. I think this is because I can feel everyone reading it and how uncomfortable they are in that virtual space and what it's telling them about the real world. If people spent less time yelling at each other on the internet and more time with their neighbors building community and localized production, a lot of things would start to get better.
To ditch Facebook, I need a platform that has a better integrated mobilization function, is more carefully designed to support IRL interaction as its priority, and has a community governed way to decide which features to implement. Imagine a Facebook created by the Maker community crossed with really skilled facilitators who have mad chops in mediating conflict across race, class and ideology. But don't imagine a Facebook, imagine that this is just an interface format or plug-in that is available across any website that is a hub for community to share resources and information. And that it has a good, secure identity system. I need to get a thorough rundown on Blockstack from someone over there, but I vaguely know they've been working on the identity problem: https://blockstack.org/
(To finish up the story about my first Facebook profile... After about a year my profile, friend set, and a bunch of really incredible photos people had taken of me at festivals in full costume, all vanished with no warning, with a note that I had violated their names policy. At the time, there was no warning, and no channel to recover my profile to at least pull the data off of it for myself. Once I set up a new profile I regularly download a backup. I do this with Google Drive as well because Google will also pull content down without warning if it finds something out of bounds. These are platforms the user has essentially no voice in their design, governance or policies.)
Since getting involved with Bloom Network in 2010 I've been researching social network designs and following what's out there. At the moment my favorite things are weco.in and scuttlebutt.nz . We've been approached over the years by many companies developing social networks, to be early adopters because we have a large existing global network of interesting people. However, I really think we either have one shot at asking our communities to join a thing, or, and this would be my preference, the next generation of social networks gradually emerges as a more decentralized, interwoven ecosystem, which our website is basically just an inspiring-to-be-on routing engine for.
Bloom will be producing a conference in September 2018 at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. It will be part of a larger cycle of incubating regenerative action projects across the planet. As part of the practical implementation of it, and the needs for digital communication systems across the working groups, I think we're going to end up grabbing the best fit tools for now and beginning to string them together.
We've already spent 8 years designing a decentralized global governance model for Bloom. At the conference we'll be producing a hackathon to complete that including identifying the tech tools we're going to use for voting and proposals etc. I hope we can demonstrate an example of a community-directed technology/utility, which straddles the physical and digital world in a way that supports people in healing their bodies, psyches, and their ecosystems.
With love and passion for creative collaboration,