Internet Monocultures

I should probably soon go on holiday before I become another angry, old, white man trolling the Internet

Another Monday, Another Naive Weekly - Curated stories on Technology and Internet Culture.

Last fall I bought my first plant. Now my home hosts 43 plants. I think it is safe to say that I’ve become a plant person. I find myself praise the patience of letting the sun do the work and have started giving plants to friends and family, without or without their consent.

I’ve also started to spend more of my time in nature. Evening walks and weekend trips. Embedding myself into the deep forest in Sweden has become my way of logging out of the clutter and recenter myself. I’ve started not only to appreciate nature, I’ve started to notice nature.

For a period of my life, my window to nature was the Bliss computer wallpaper. You probably remember it as the Microsoft Windows wallpaper. I use to think it looked beautiful with the green hills and the bold blue sky. Today my perception of the same image has changed.

When I compare the green field of Bliss with that of a wildflower field, I quickly dream myself back to a time before industrial agriculture. I appreciate the quantity and ease in getting food, I acknowledge the importance of full-stomachs for human progress, but I think The Earth as a whole is suffering significantly from the monocultures we are creating.

Try to look around on your next drive through fields. Then imagine how this area was before it was cleared for farming. Imagine the small creeks, the butterflies, the trees and the animals. Not only did it look differently. It smelled and sounded differently.

While I believe we should do more to stop, and even counter, the monocultures we have created, I also think we should avoid making the same mistake in our digital universe. In the 90s an the 00s, the Internet was still a weird, vibrant and colourful place. It surely had flaws, just like the Internet today - and just like society in general. But it didn’t have the same centralization as we see today.

This week Cloudflare was down for a short period of time. During this period approximately 10% of all websites in the world didn’t work, including Down For Everyone Or Just Me. But it is not just our domain name service that is centralized, an estimated 80-90% of blogs and news sites run on Wordpress and the pattern is similar when you look at hosting, email services and basically anything else online.

As the Internet has matured, it went from millions of villages to a handful of megacities. Where the villages each had their own fauna, culture and norms, we are now all equally enabled and constrained by the same few templates. We have different profile photos, quirky bios and maybe even our own colour scheme - but you don’t even have to look twice to notice that it is all the same.

Four Stories on Technology and Internet Culture

1. Why People Pretend To Be Boomers In Facebook Groups

I remember listening to the Reply All episode about the fictional cleaning company running in a Facebook group, but I didn’t know that hundred of thousands of people daily engage in pretend Facebook groups. Top.

2. Bonsai Brands

The author argues that the boom of direct to consumer companies that are flourishing have problems scaling beyond a certain size. I think he might be right, but I also think it doesn’t really matter. Maybe not every company has to become a global mega company?

3. There’s an Algorithmic Reason You Should Reply ‘Yes’ to Every Facebook Event

Short read about the complex issue of responding to Facebook event invitations from friends. It also made me dream of re-launching The Hive - maybe it could be my “fight monoculture” side-project in 2020.

4. How To Build For Diversity And Inclusion

I spoke with Sabrina Faramazi from Feminist Internet about how to get started with building for diversity.

“Don't be another tech product in a long line of failures that could've catered to the real 'mainstream' instead of just middle-aged, middle class, white men.”

Naive Weekly

Hi, I’m Kristoffer and I’m one of the founders of co-matter. You just read Naive Weekly - Curated stories on Technology and Internet Culture.

As always a big thanks to the six Naive Friends who chip in every month or year to support me making time to write this newsletter: NikolajSørenDriesMikkelTina & Angela!