This had me thinking. I don't have time to fully reason this out right now, but here's the back-of-a-fag packet version of how we fix social networks...
Problem: Social networking sucks because your attention is the commodity, right? Other people are selling a thing that’s important to you, with no defined sense of the value of the thing.
- As such, you should be the person selling it. It's yours, after all.
- How do you sell your attention? First we need a social network, so lets build an app for the usual "social emmisions" (text, photos, cat videos) using Mr. Berners-Lee's new Solid thing.
- This means your content lives in your copy of the thing. (A pod.) Similarly, someone else's comments on your cat video lives in their pod and the data is linked and fetched automagically. This is what Solid is all about. It’s properly clever, but quite technical so lets just assume it works. (Sir Tim has form in this regard.)
- This is the nifty additional bit - everyone and everything in our new social network has a score that represents "attention value". (Eyeball points?) This is a public number, visible to everyone. Something with a high number has been deemed worthy of attention by many people, something with a low, or negative number doesn't. That score can only be influenced by the system, and cannot be bought or sold. (Ish.)
- Every human starts with, say, 10,000 points. Every human can only have one profile. Max score is the max unsigned 32-bit integer value. Min score is zero.
- When someone wants to connect with someone else they both agree a default per-post points value for their content. From that moment on points flow between them when one party has consumed the other's content. So watching that video might cost you 1/1,000th of a point, but posting an article might gain you a point if a 1,000 people read it. More if they like it.
- If you run out of points you no longer recieve content that costs points or post content that awards other people points.
- If it's pure social thing (friends/family) the flow of points is zero. (Unless you're a dick.) So when you when you connect with a friend: "Your Mate Dave wants to connect? Nope | Yes (0 send, 0 receive) | Yes (Suggest other)"
- If you're an advertiser/seller you can "pay" a tiny amount of points fto encourage someone to look at your posts. i.e. "The Apple Store wants to connect? Nope | Yes (0 send, + 0.01 to receive) | Yes (Suggest other)". People can curate their own list of paid adverts this way.
- If you're a content creator you "charge" a tiny amount of points for every thing you deliver into the world. Points will flow from your followers to you. When connecting they'll see something like: "Connect with Favourite Author/Musician? Nope | Yes (-0.1 send | -0.01 to receive)| Yes (Suggest other)"
- Both sides of a connection have to agree the flow of points when they connect, and can negotiate. There'll be defaults, auto-accept settings, etc.
- Items of content have their own public score as well, which is a function of all the transactions that have occured on them. (So a well-read article or truly excellent cat video will have a higher score). Bonus points can be awarded or taken away by consumers - "likes" and "dislikes", effectively.
- Obviously there's this "money" abstraction thing for “value” that humans use. You know the one. Root of all evil, etc. You could probably replace "score" with a fiscal balance, but given we need public balances that might be a bit uncouth. Also, as mentioned earlier in this paragraph, it's evil. I'm thinking this is more like a Whuffie score that denotes whether someone or something is worth your time. But advertisers/sellers can buy points with real money. This nicely ties all the evil up in one place - cash and adverts, which pays for dev, time, bandwidth and tin. Everyone else maintains a score by interaction.
- Anything that pays points bought with money will have to have the source publicly disclosed.
- Your timeline is only sorted by score if you want it to be. Or it could be chronological. Or (because it's open source) code your own damn client and render the entire thing as emoji. (Just be aware that if you choose to exclude all the seller content you'll soon run out of points.)
- Score on reposts - no idea. TBD. Percentage of the original score?
- Content is inherently decentralised, but the points interactions will need to brokered and held in a distributed public ledger (I'm not going to use the dreaded bl*ckch**n word here, but you know what I mean). The points transaction completes when the client opens/interacts with the social emission.
- Closed, private(ish) brokers also allowed - effectively private attention networks? Content would be scored differently with different user groups, so people can set up their own network with their own cohort. Interactions for public content must be posted back to the public broker as well, though.
I think the key is to have a mechanism where people put a value on their own attention for their social interactions... rather than Facebook/Twitter/whoever selling your attention for you. That value becomes a key factor when you're choosing to engage with content, and the reality that someone has to pay for all this is wired in from the start.
Currently listening to "Cannonball" - Tune-Yards.
Currently reading "Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age" - Annalee Newitz.
Posted Wednesday, November 28, 2018.