Must-Read: Zeynep Tufekci: The Web of Relationships We Have to Save

Must-Read: The very sharp Zeynep Tufekci mourns the loss of the thick connectedness that was part of the bloggy web that she sees as having been lost in the move to the social web. A great deal of this is simply that back a decade ago when we were homesteading the noosphere settlement was just not that dense, and that the pioneer Little-Weblog-on-the-Prairie culture was bound to die. (How much bigger is the audience for the three things Ezra Klein has written in the past week then for the six things he wrote on August 3, 2005? Ezra? And both writing for a bigger audience and reading less deeply and much more broadly in individual writers will diminish connection.) But is there something more that is important?

Zeynep Tufekci: The Web of Relationships We Have to Save: “Here’s the good: Unlike a blogger, it’s very hard to isolate and ban Facebook or Twitter…

…Here’s the bad: these platforms have their own censorship mechanisms…. What happens when an anti-Dove (or insert your product) user-generated content goes viral (or tries to) in a platform in which that product is a key advertiser? Are we back to television which can never cover climate change while so dependent on car ads?

Here’s the ugly…. I have no way to tell my friends on Facebook that I ‘like’ their efforts for charity, or their babies, without Facebook also interpreting that to mean that it should show more and more of that type of content, the opposite of what I actually want…. Facebook will not prioritize a dark update from a friend whose husband is in an Egyptian jail, but will show me a cheery one she posts, simply because we all click on ‘like’ when we see a moment of happiness from her….

We were discussing the need to preserve links, and have them under our control…. A link… is a connection between people. The current attention economy and its obsession with numbers–and virality–obscures this core fact about what is beautiful about the web…. When we write, and link to each other, we are connecting to each other, not merely to content…. I don’t want to go back to a web of political blogs, read mostly by political people that is easily targeted and banned. But I do want to go forward to a web based on relationships, the flow of which is not manipulated on behalf of advertisers…. I don’t fear commercial platforms, per se, nor am I opposed to the intelligent use of appropriate and robust algorithms that can help enrich our experience. (I’m actually for it). The web we need to save is not this or that format, but our relationships, expressed in our links, our updates, our connections and more. There is much at stake.

August 4, 2015

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