I like this as a piece of policy analysis

Let’s talk about social media functionality and how its current, virulently diseased business model might be amputated.

It’s simply implicit that social media can do good work if cut free of the abusive, predatory, American firms who use it as the lure for an adtech economy unmoored from real value or social purpose.

Social media as currently construed is terrible in truly nonlinear ways, acting as both metaphor and amplifier for the worst of late capitalism.

Just as TMFTF doesn’t have much to say about how hard-right, populist authoritarianism is deliberately wrecking intra-national capacity for the regional and global coordination needed to address climate crisis, it doesn’t seem to get how the vicious circle of hard right plus social media is hollowing out the capacity of states to fulfil the social contract that makes democracy possible.

That’s why we need to destroy Big Tech, not just because doing so might provide an (anti)-business model for emergent forms of technology-amplified cooperation. US social media companies’ business model is directly preventing people from understanding the climate crisis, and from forming the coalitions needed to work on it. It’s destroying the necessary structures of feeling and political institutions we need to get civilization through the eye of the needle that is this century. That is the problem statement. Understanding what we’re up against provides the necessary urgency and will to act radically to destroy how we currently ‘Internet’.

I know tech policy pretty well,
….
This work is urgent. Tech policy, like everything else, needs to serve and enable our direct responses to climate crisis. Time and again, the toxic predation of winner-takes-all monopolies, founded and run by tech bros, enable, amplify and are fundamentally conjoined with individual acts of male predation and abuse. Code is law, and that code is misogyny. We won’t get the non-patriarchal responses that TMFTF rightly describes as essential, if we permit another decade of violent regression on gender. All the people that would have the ideas, develop the projects and form the networks that our species needs are being driven out, now. We don’t have decades more of human potential to burn.

Umm, yeah.

16 thoughts on “I like this as a piece of policy analysis”

  1. “US social media companies’ business model is directly preventing people from understanding the climate crisis, and from forming the coalitions needed to work on it.”

    What a lot of round objects! All this “net zero” idiocy is enshrined in law in many countries. Where it is not in the law, social media has little importance eg China. The UK is steadfastly heading towards disaster

  2. “It’s simply implicit that social media can do good work if cut free of the abusive, predatory, American firms who use it as the lure for an adtech economy”

    However we know, within an order of magnitude at least, the probable cost of social media to the user without the advertising subsidy. Those SMS & MMS charges. Web hosting charges So how much good work is going to be done when putting up an ad-free Facebook page costs you $80/pa? A single Tweet 10 cents?

  3. It’s something I don’t think people realise. Tim’ll know how much it costs him to run his sites. I bought a software package enables me to put text, images, video etc on a webpage. Cost me £160. I just paid a hosting bill. £68. And it’s a very hands on process. You have to know what you’re doing. Sticking something up on social media is simple because there’s some very sophisticated & damned expensive stuff going on behind the platform makes it simple. You cut free of adtech & the only way you’re going to get anything up on-line is to pay for it. And you won’t get the economy of scale. Facebook’s market is billions of users. The sort of markets envisaged are in the small millions.

  4. “Just as TMFTF doesn’t have much to say about how hard-right, populist authoritarianism is deliberately wrecking intra-national capacity for the regional and global coordination needed to address climate crisis, it doesn’t seem to get how the vicious circle of hard right plus social media is hollowing out the capacity of states to fulfil the social contract that makes democracy possible.”

    And the Left and Woke that try to control those social media are fluffy bunnies? Hmmmm…

    And , again to the point of boredom, what climate crisis?

  5. Dennis, Satan's Editor-In-Chief

    I hadn’t looked at Crooked Timber in a dozen years. Somehow I’m comforted by the fact that it’s still pumping out progressive pseudo-intellectual flapdoodle.

    This is especially lovely:

    Kim Stanley Robinson’s books are how I think about the future. I’m not exaggerating when I say they’re how I manage to think about it at all. They provide much of the temporal and political context in which I do my work, which is to say, they educate me and let me know I’m not alone.

    Translated into non-pseudo-intellectual flapdoodle English:

    I can’t think for myself so I’ve latched onto the works of an anti-capitalist, pro-ecology science fiction writer and follow him so I get my thinking done for me without having to actually putting forth the effort to do it myself.

    Ah, Maria. You’re a born follower.

  6. “I hadn’t looked at Crooked Timber in a dozen years”: me neither, though my principal objection wasn’t the flapdoodle it was that it was badly written.

    Just as I never read on when I meet “zombie” I never read on when I meet “nonlinear” (except in technical stuff where “nonlinear” actually means something).

  7. BiS, less than a hundred pounds will buy you hosting and, if you know a little setting up a site is just the cost of your time; the problem comes when you get an audience of significant size and you need to pay for serious amounts of data. There used to be a thing called the ‘slashdot effect’, doesn’t matter much now, if your video on youtube goes viral.

  8. ‘… hollowing out the capacity of states to fulfil the social contract that makes democracy possible.’

    If we actually had democracy, the State – a power concentration, territorial monopoly and extortion and protection racket – would not exist.

    Democracy’s sole purpose is to prevent concentration of power so tyranny – the State – cannot exist. Elected tyranny is still tyranny.

    I have never signed a social contract and don’t want to. ‘Social contract’ is synonymous with the one-sided labour contract that binds slaves to their owners.

  9. Sure, djc. That’s what I do & pay. But these idiots will want the full functionality, user interface, of a social media site. As currently available thanx to adtech. Because their user base is just about capable of negotiating Whatsapp on a good day. Good luck with putting that together with the Dummies Guide to Designing Websites. And they’re specifically ruling out YouTube. You fancy putting together your own searchable library of uploaded video?

  10. That’s what gets me. If you’ve had any experience of them, few of these people could function on-line without the biggest, baddest adtech company of them all. Hardly any of them even understand what a web browser is. They find sites by Googling for them & beyond that the sites appear on their screen by magic.

  11. @BiS

    You use a very useful word “magic”. For most people, the internet is “magic” – it’s one of the reasons why so many IT projects fail – the bods who are supposed to be managing the process tend to think of computers as “magic” and thus assume that things can be made to happen. Aided of course by the non-techie types within IT firms who promise that of course they can do everything that the idiot client desires.

  12. Sadly, no. This is in fact a woman who earns her living as a strategic thinker on the subject of the internet infrastructure. Lobbies in Brussels etc. She’s done a couple of pieces of writing I rather admire on other subjects. This though she really does mean.

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