Anti-social Media

Nov 30th, 2011
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  1. Do you have a Facebook account? A Twitter ID? The enormous commons they provide is enticing, but there are a few small problems…
  2. Each of the companies behind these brand names has a massive investment in hardware and operating costs. You get to use these marvels for free because YOU are the product. Your likes, dislikes, where you live, your circle of friends – these are what these companies sell to maintain their enormous infrastructure.
  3. Stop seeing your Facebook page as a big park where you play, because it’s an overfull pasture where you get sheared at one end, milked at the other, and constantly herded towards further consumption.
  4. Twitter started out much better than Facebook. Computers communicate using packets and it turns out that humans follow a similar paradigm with the humble 140 character tweet. But with each new ‘upgrade’ Twitter takes another step towards monetizing their customer base in order to produce a return on investment. They didn’t start out evil, but they’ll get there one quarter at a time.
  5. And when they’re not selling information ABOUT you as they try to sell stuff TO you they are the perfect spying vehicle for everyone from the federal government to that nosy coworker that doesn’t like your politics. We need a new way forward in cyberspace as much as we need one in the meat world.
  6. Facebook’s Open Source competitor is named Diaspora. Four New York college students launched a $10,00 Kickstarter project that has received over $200,000 in support and the result is a distributed system that can’t be co-opted. A couple of occupations could get together, rent a collocated server, install Diaspora, and your community will be using a system governed by your consensus rather than some grasping, controlling corporate entity.
  7. Twitter’s Open Source clone is Many common mobile phone applications meant for Twitter can be easily reconfigured for this system and they’ll often run both an account for your village’s back channel discussion as well as your highly visible public Twitter presence.
  8. You don’t need to delete your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Each can provide access to a significant audience. But if you’re an insurgent, a change agent, an Occupier with any sort of reach at all, you can be sure you’re under observation by unwanted eyes.
  9. Start watching for these Open Source systems of our own, because you’re going to see them popping up, at times for use in a specific geographic area, and other times for affinity groups working on certain tasks.
  10. Close your eyes, breathe deeply, and imagine some corporate snoop pounding his desk in frustration as the activist network he planned to disrupt simply melts away into a digital back country of systems that require a real world handshake in order to gain entrance. Now go make it so!
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