What We Really Need is a Non Profit Internet
I knew Suzi before she came up with Panquake. I followed her accounts of secret police harassment in her native New Zealand which caused her to move to Russia. I watched all the way through her documentary about the way intelligence organizations are disrupting social movements all over the world.
I find her accounts very credible. I have been subjected in the past to something much like this. However, in my case I do not think they sent the brightest bulbs in their box after me. Their harassment efforts mostly blew up in their faces and often actually rebounded in my favour.
I have also been following all year her efforts to create Panquake and get it to launch point. I even sent a few good old Canadian dollars, worth .79 U.S. dollars, into her war chest. I am now very curious to see what this thing actually looks like.
I have been developing my own ideas about what an ideal social media system would look like. I have long used Twitter as an ideal news feed. I still use it for that, and increasingly to hunt for good blogs and mail lists to follow.
The whole point of Twitter has been to announce things. It is becoming less useful for that but there is no good alternative available. When I was on Facebook I found people just using it as a place to hang out online.
Other platforms fill that function better now. I cannot even get on Facebook anymore because I will not give them my picture and personal information.
I cannot understand things like Reddit or Mastadon. They seem totally compartmentalized; you cannot get your message out.
I have long felt that for any social media to be any use, it must appeal to most people. I do not think you can have two platforms filling the same niche. This means that such entities are natural monopolies which means they need to be public utilities.
That idea will likely flip out many of the people working on Panquake, who seem to have some left libertarian inclinations which I definitely do not share. Thus Panquake is likely to be a bedlam. Yet that is better than having all this “Algorithmic” stuff that has been a problem in all social media and is now coming on strong in Twitter.
The worst kind of social media to have is one in which control agencies are trying to manage public perceptions in a particular way according to an oligarchic agenda. The second worst thing would be completely uncensored and unmonitored zoo. But that would at least give higher functioning people a place to build a movement for the kind of society which could make possible the kind of social media that is really needed.
To build such a movement you need to be able to reach a pretty good sized user base. You have to be free from being throttled, curated, censored, or closed down. You have to be able to remain anonymous. You would not be able to totally shut out state surveillance, but that is not really that important.
An open service like that would still be full of influencers, predators, and plain nut cases, but that would be the best we can do until we are able to raise up a real democracy and a social economy. Panquake is designed to be impossible to shut down. If it can win over the niche Twitter now has, we’ve got something.
The value of Twitter has been its usefulness in announcing things; yourself, your works, your events. Thus an improvement on Twitter would be much more searchable. That would mean some degree of categorization without compartmentalization. New people coming in have to able to be noticed.
Of course, the key to Panquake is that it is member supported. This model has to be the basis for a renewal of the internet. We need people to start developing alternatives to the surveillance crap we have now, often actually created by intelligence agencies; platforms which will not be based on advertising and data mining.
This was where the internet went wrong. Back in the 1990s, people were hung up on the idea that the net should be free. There was huge resistance to anyone trying to charge anything, like people who created and ran stuff for the net did not have expenses, did not have to make a living.
People expected everything to be free. So most stuff on the net was not very good. The alliance of business and intelligence came up with platforms which looked a lot better, even though the user were the product, and so people flocked to them.
So now two things are starting to be understood. The public is starting to see it that if they want something really useful for finding things and understanding things, they have to pay for it. Creators are understanding that if they are going to make a living creating stuff for the net, it has be really worth five beans a month.
Still, if the internet is to really achieve its potential, it has to be operated as a public utility within national boundaries. This idea will still give Panquake people conniptions. I am thinking about how such an internet could work and I will be blogging about it in future.
I should conclude with some relations about my own frustrations with Twitter. I am trying to announce my new writings through Twitter but I am frustrated about determining how successful I am being and what I could do better. The Twitter analytics are baffling.
My blogging platforms are also puzzling. I announce article X on Twitter, with link to platform Y. I get a surge of views at that time, but only three are referred by Twitter, most have no referrer. Yet Twitter says the post had no engagements at all.
I only have about 80 to 90 followers. That stays pretty constant because periodically about ten will drop off for no apparent reason. Yet some things I have posted have had 3000 retweets.
Many people complain that the Twitter ghosts interfere with their personal relationships. I try not to do personal on Twitter, but Twitter phenomena have compromised my public relationships. I refer to a sort of soap opera I got into with a fellow member of the blogging profession.
It is a fairly inane matter. She put out something rather stupid on Twitter, which seemed to be a response to someone else she was snarkling with. It had to do with the privacy concern around compulsory ID cards.
I tweeted something short and probably a bit over the line. She responded to a blast saying she would not tolerate stuff like that. I made an apology but restated my basic objection to what she said and took up the challenge she had been throwing out, to debate about the point she was making.
No response. So I unfollowed her to avoid further soap operas. When I get around to my own blog post about the ID cards issue, I will probably send her a copy. But what disturbs me is that I got a few snooty responses send to me by third parties about it and I came off looking somewhat bad.
What is disturbing was that my somewhat rude post and her response went out widely. Yet her original cranky post that I had been commenting on, and my further reply admitting going too far but taking up the gauntlet about that issue, seemed to just disappear. So, how is that for Twitter-twisted relationships?
I am still debating about resending the whole exchange for general reference. I reproduce it before. Readers can skip it if they prefer.
But that concludes my piece about Twitter. Keep working on Panquake, Suzi and company.