Digital public sphere - From gated platforms to the fediverse

Erwin Ernst Steinhammer

New advancements and evolved technologies always affected society. This talk discusses the inquiry to what extent fediverse has an influence on changes in the public sphere. In addition, this lecture will address the question of how the rising fediverse is a transition from antagonism to agonism.

  • Does changing from gated platforms to fediverse support a pluralistic culture?
  • What is the likelihood that larger instances will represent a coherent implementation in terms of standards such as ActivityPub?
  • How does blocking (particularly blocks between instances) impact this adjustment in public sphere?
  • Why do we need a specific measure of blocking and which limits do they confine?

Questions & Answers available!

Q&A Session – Digital public sphere
⬡ Hooray, the live Questions & Answers are available here


Thank you @eest9 for mentioning pluralistic agonism! Your remark on instances as communities reminded me of Alan Kay who considered servers as the place for the community back in the days :wink:

The talk finished with 4 questions from @eest9:

  1. Which aspects have I overlooked?
  2. Did this talk influence your perception of the Fediverse?
  3. Should we promote something of democratically ruled instances?
  4. How should we finance instances?

1. Overlooks

The presentation of the public sphere theory remains entirely euro-centric and quite academic, which is not necessarily an issue since it originated there and you include “pluralistic agonism”, but not before having presented the mainstream view of dominant culture which already removed/ignored/silenced a lot of other approaches (see for example Nevertheless, it does not affect the content nor the pertinence of your talk, so it’s fine.

2. Influence

Not much, as I knew most of what you introduced here and mostly agree with your position. I’m glad you made this presentation for other people with less political background.

3. Promotion of democratic rules

I certainly support encouraging people to organize their community in self-aware, self-regulated collectives promoting fairness, open debate, and a more democratic approach, especially if we keep the scale of instances small enough to ensure this process is working well. We could certainly learn from various existing instances and their modes of existence, as demonstrated by Derek Caelin in Decentralized Social Networks vs. The Trolls. I would suggest the #fediversity is a good place to do it.

4. How should we finance instances?

My take is that it depends on the community using the instance. Some will be funded by their admins, some will depend on donations from their members… Maybe, as part of the previous question, we could also encourage best practices, such as maintaining awareness of the costs and current balance and create a two-buckets fund per instance: one for covering costs, and an extra overflowing bucket for solidarity, either for the instance’s community members, or to sustain wider Fediverse costs like development or infrastructure, meetings and gatherings, etc.
I would expect university instances to cover all the costs for their students and staff, etc.

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Thank you for this link.
Yes I’ve a very euro-centric perspective. But so far I’ve had only contact about the Fediverse to citizen of the European Union. I was very skeptical about assuming things about other cultures (white people like me did this far to often in history). Therefore I also included the line “in western societies”.
And it’s one of my hopes to get more non European perspectives from #apconf2020 or at least a starting point for talking to a more diverse audience.

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