A New Community Group for the Development of A Humane Social Media Ecosystem

Hi Social Hub,

This post is about starting a new Community Group, or reviving this one, with the purpose of contemplating, discussing, and documenting all facets of developing a viable and humane social media ecosystem capable of attracting the masses.

My assumption is that the current decentralized social networking community is siloed and hasn’t deeply engaged with each other or the academic community towards a holistic vision. Towards that end I am proposing that we bring together a multidisciplinary community of technologists, as well as creative subject matter experts from across the social sciences, to design, and build, a humane social media ecosystem. Addressing the many facets of the social media problem separately isn’t likely to produce a viable alternative that addresses the deepest issues with the dominant social media paradigm in a form that is compelling to the masses. Some suggested ecosystem design categories include dozens of technical (e.g., decentralized discovery, storage, and identity, etc…) topics, but also topics like moderation, business models, intellectual property rights, law enforcement, and ecosystem governance, just to name a few.

Following is a summary for the proposed working group. Please consider this a draft. I very much welcome your feedback. Here are some questions for you.

  1. Is the concept of a Community Group engaging in a social media ecosystem design process interesting to you?
  2. What questions does it leave you with?
  3. What are your concerns?
  4. What would you change/add?
  5. Should this be a new Community Group or could/should this happen within the framework of the Social Web Community Group?

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The Summary

The predominant social media paradigm, that optimizes for maximum time on site, is corrosive to individual well being and society as a whole. It limits developers and presents an unethical middleman between content creators and their subscribers. The Center for Humane Technology has done a fantastic job of enumerating the harms that Big Tech Social Media does to democracy, social sensemaking, and mental health.

Art of the Possible

Technology is not neutral. We can consciously choose to design a humane social media ecosystem that: protects civil liberties & privacy by default, preserves data ownership and control, enriches democratic societies, empowers content creators, enables people to choose healthy media diets, and gives developers the means to innovate.

Need for a Holistic Design Process

There is currently no sufficiently interdisciplinary effort to design a viable and humane social media ecosystem. There are plenty of good faith efforts to draw on but to date each of them is overlooking an essential requirement. These oversights range from architectural decisions to poor marketing, to the lack of a self-sustaining business model. Many efforts only focus on technical aspects of the multitude of design concerns.

Mosaic Foundation recognizes the potential to bring together a multidisciplinary community of technologists, as well as creative subject matter experts from across the social sciences, to design a human-centered social media ecosystem. The breadth of the social media problem makes it challenging to create viable alternatives to the existing attention-maximizing advertising–based models. It is only by linking disparate efforts through an open and economically sustainable ecosystem that we can hope to compete with Big tech.

The Design Process

The North Star of the design process is to co-evolve comprehensive ecosystem hypotheses with small experiments that build towards an actionable approach for developing a viable and human social media ecosystem. This is a community effort. Everything is subject to good faith discussion. We are beginning to do outreach to prospective design participants. We’ll be having regular meetings, sharing ideas and suggesting discussion topics via a mailing list, having ongoing design conversations via Matrix Chat, and documenting concrete options to design questions on the Mosaic Wiki.

How to Participate

Read the TL;DR: Human-centered Social Media Design Proces — Mosaic Foundation

Join our biweekly meetings: TBD
Follow and contribute via the mailing list: TBD
Check out the Mosaic Wiki: Mosaic Wiki - XWiki
Join the Matrix Chat: TBD

2 Likes

I highly recommend this podcast where Ethan Zuckerman describes a compelling vision for the future of social media. Spotify

1 Like

Looks like you are working in the same area as us at Explore - Open Media Network where we are coming at this from a messy activist point of view you guys are more #NGO focus.

The two should not have to beat each other over the head, but they just about always do. This was mediated with the spiky/fluffy debate. Do you know any of this history The reboot of the indymedia project - visionOntv

2 Likes

I would definitely be interested in this… both from a technical and an academic level; I’m a graduate in English and a self-taught technologist for the most part.

I am very much interested in agency, sovereignty and permacomputing issues. Right now I am fundraising for an unprecedented take on it.

When will the mailing list be up?

P.S.: I like your website’s footer image.

P.P.S.: Websites like yours deplete the biosphere. Fix that please.

  1. Yes.
  2. How would your proposal result in anything more than the creation of yet another silo? Every community I know had a similar goal - to bring people together to discuss these interrelated issues. But each actually creates Yet Another Place to compete for one’s time. You’d need a very powerful USP: what’s yours?
  3. see 2.
  4. A USP
  5. Are you referring to the W3C group?

Researchers are always welcome to share their thought to #fediversity.