Another Monday, Another Naive Weekly - Curated stories on Technology and Internet Culture.
Those changing the world are those bringing people together. For the past 15 years, social media has been the most powerful tool to connect people: Presidents have been elected, billionaries made and revolutions won.
I remember the rush of excitement during the Obama campaign. It was the first political campaign that felt native to my life. On my blog I compared the campaign with the French Revolution. Largely thanks to social media, the Obama campaign created a mass-movement that spread enthusiasm across the world.
Today cynics might say that social media has lost its innocence. Economics might say that social media has created monopolies. Politicians might say that social media has destroyed democracies. Journalists might say that social media has caused an uninformed public. Urban planners might say that social media has killed neighbourhoods.
I think they are all right, but only because society, humans and technology always has been - and probably always will be broken.
In 2010 I wrote “The Internet has a serious problem! (I am not here to solve it.)”. There was nothing clever in this observation in 2010 and there is nothing clever in the same diagnosis in 2019.
With politicians like AOC and Donald Trump, we have arguably reached peak social media. In each in their own way, they are so good at Twitter that it is hard to imagine anyone being better than them. Yet, I don’t feel the same rush of excitement as I did with the Obama campaign more than ten years ago.
This doesn’t mean that I am not excited about the internet as a tool to connect and bring people together. It does not mean that I am not excited about the ability of movements to inspire change. It simply means, that the fight for equal opportunity and climate action transcends social media.
The Internet is still the most powerful tool to connect people and create change, but today we use it differently than when we fell in love with the social media platforms of the past decade.
And before anyone proclaim that social media is dead, please take a look at the coal factories, churches and royal castles still being in use today. There are always many realities and truth in place at the same time.
Bringing People Together in 2019
At co-matter we are right now exploring how people gather in what we call the post social media world. Below are some thoughts and observations from my notebook. The research is still very much work in progress, so if you have opinions please reach out.
People claim back ownership
We are bringing back the personal blogs, the direct newsletters and our own websites. Instead of competing for attention at the central train station and shopping malls, we create our own destinations.
People engage in gated groups
We care for more intimate and curated collectives. Groups where we have more at risk and where it is harder to get in. Groups where violating the rules have an actual cost.
People turn to memberships
Today everything seems to be subscriptions. Subscriptions are good for a predictable and recurring revenue, but it is also an effective way to nurture a relationship that lasts longer than a single tweet. Who are you without your memberships?
People value real meetings
We march the streets for the climate. We conspire in basements. We get lost at concerts. Generally speaking, we understand that sometimes human energy deserves to be unfiltered.
People desire prolonged attention
Not everything worth doing can be completed with the blink of an eye.
People gather in niche communities
One of the most active online fora in Denmark is about horses. I lost countless hours in football and cycling fora. Others in photo-, music- or hunting groups. While some of these groups prevailed during the rise of the universal social media platforms, many died. With Easter approaching, it feels appropriate to talk about resurrection.
People are done with the angry white man
If you want to witness change, look for an angry old white man. Power on.
People leave no trace
We step lighter. We clean our path. We let dust settle and followers go.
Five Stories on Technology and Internet Culture
Yet another study that questions our assumptions of the negative influence of screen time on well-being. This study includes a sample of more than 17,000 teenagers. These days I’m trying to reduce screen time myself, but I do think that there is too much misinformation when it comes to the bad influences of the screen in our lives. See also my friend Henrik Chulu’s write-up from last year about social media’s effect on our mental health.
Fortnite’s CEO is talking about their plans of creating something like a metaverse. These discussions come at the same time as Snap announced games as a core strategy for the company. Funny how one is becoming the other.
Side-prediction: Next to games, I’d bet on live-streaming and shopping as the new social activities taking place online.
r/changemyview is one of the more interesting subreddits. Earlier this year I shared an article about how the subreddit should be a template for all online discussions. Now the founder is launching its own dedicated website, will be interesting to see if they succeed keeping the site active.
Side-prediction: the 2020 business ideas will emerge from copying Facebook Groups and Subreddits.
If you are interested in the development of YouTube from the creator community perspective, this is probably the best article I’ve read, introducing the different phases of the platform and where it is at today. However, I’m not sure if I agree with the conclusion that the golden age is over, at least from a content perspective. Today we see a creator like Shane Dawson taking internet storytelling to entire new levels by creating interactive, long-form and authentic videos.
With texting and instant messaging we kinda stopped saying goodbye. I might want to write more about this in a later newsletter.