communication culture technology

Rethinking Social Media

I came across an interesting idea today: the production of a new, reliable, verifiable, safe and trustworthy social media platform. My reflex was to think: what of the tendency of information and energy-processing (i.e. communications) systems to autonomously drift into optimally-concise patterns and methods of self-propagation?

There is no particular brilliance about Facebook et. al. – they merely harnessed and exploited the implicit orientation of social, psychological and cultural systems to seek (and encode) optimal methods of systemic self-propagation. The consequences – good, bad and ugly – could probably never have been accurately predicted but attempts to retrospectively shape and influence the energies they unleashed have resembled dark comedy.

How is it possible to create a massively open and verifiably reliable information and communications platform while avoiding the useless inertia of psychological and organisational self-interest? Technical solutions, like physical (or bureaucratic!) systems, tend to assume the forms that are most conducive to their own continuity.

The emergent means, encoding and methods of communications system self-replication are often at odds with the defined goals of those systems and this is where wilful misrepresentation begins, but does not end.

There is an art in navigating complexity, deception, truth and entropy. Adding more (if new) systems, platforms and technologies may be as likely to drift into a chaotic, self-organising social and ideological turbulence in just the same (or similar) ways as has already occurred across the monopistic spectrum of social and media platforms.

This is probably another instance of a general principle that it is not what is added that provides utility and value when confronting and disentangling technological complexity; it is what is removed by way of reconfiguration and recombinatory, recursive self-inflection that provides true value.

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