Tuesday, December 29, 2020

the other dark web

Admittedly this is kind of a link to a link, but Daring Fireball's musings on Facebook’s Unknowable Megascale got me thinking - Gruber points out how Facebook is just unknowable in a way traditional media or blogs or message boards (even reprehensible 'chans) aren't. 

There's something fundamentally subjective, then, about Facebook, which makes the algorithm's engagement-maximizing manipulation that much harder to get a handle on, and to estimate the damage of. At first, I thought the same subjectivity applied to other custom-"wall"-based sites, such as Twitter and Tumblr - it's a different experience for each person - but those streams aren't nearly as heavy handed in the algorithmic manipulation as FB, and Twitter is fundamentally public by default. (My experience with Twitter might be idiosyncratic, though - I know people long for "just tweets of people I follow, in chronological order" which I actually get putting everyone I follow (and actually want to read, not just a courtesy follow) on a "list", and only reading that.) 

Like I wrote in The Stream vs The Froth (and later, the chrono, the wall, the stream, the froth) I am bummed out that my main blog - 20 years old this week - lost its message board audience, and that if I have any hope for conversation on what I write, I have to crosspost to FB, or sometimes one of the private Slack or WhatsApp groups I enjoy.) But FB has gotten to be so bad at that. FB worked its way into our hearts in part because it was based on people you know in real life, but now to keep pulling so many people it's just the most random group doomscrolling-bait stuff... like, I like the content in the Atari group, but I certainly don't value its random content more than stuff from people I know! 

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