Internet, Ownership

Republished from the April 2, 2018 Newsletter.

If I had a mission statement right now it’d be this: more people exhibiting more ownership over more of what they produce online. Right now we’ve swung almost entirely to allowing social media to own everything about our activity online: both in terms of consumption and production. Social media, however, interlaces consumption and production in order to extract the maximum value from the smallest interactions. I’m convinced that soon enough if you hover your mouse over a link for too long it could result in a post about how you’re interested in it blasted out to the world. Technically speaking that would be a very impressive feature! Shareholders love features like that because engagement goes up because everyone thinks that everyone else is doing more somethings on the site.

Your tools constrain what you’re able to create and how you create it. And the current landscape of widely available, easy to use, tools prioritize only a specific set of behaviors (primarily based around engagement). Imagine if instead of writing this newsletter it existed as a thread on twitter. I’m so tired just thinking of anyone trying to read that let alone writing it!

I’m all for the barrier to creation being lowered. I’m not for the control of the display of that creation to be ceded to a few large publicly traded companies. Again, I want more people to have ways to create and catalog the things they care about in their own space. Owning your own little corner of the internet allows you to do different things with it than trusting The Great Algorithm to sort it out for you.

Maybe you just really want to catalog the paint colors you used on your house so you can reference it later. Maybe you want to write a weekly newsletter. Maybe you want to have a place to post about your hyperlocal D&D zine’s progress. FB isn’t going to give you those tools unless there’s a measurable way for them to monetize it. And the second it’s no longer profitable for them you’re on borrowed time.

We have some good tools to do the making part, but we don’t have all the possible tools to do so. I want more ways to facilitate someone having an idea to the production of that idea. Ideally it doesn’t involve a lot of head scratching about terms like DNS, SSH, NPM, etc. No one in 2018 should have to understand server administration in order to have a website.

If this were a medium piece I’d now bring up how my startup is going to solve this. Alas, this is just a weekly newsletter. Talk to me in person if you’ve been thinking about these things too.

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