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What Is To Be Done?

A Manifesto To Return To Web 1.5


Mar 1, 2024


I don’t want to criticize people who seem to like the situation… Instead I’ll focus on people who are trying to do something other than be a number, even as they are subsumed by the new reality of number supremacy.

[Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now – Jaron Lanier p.66]




In our critique of surveillance capitalism and our quest for collective beauty, it is imperative to hone in on ideas that we can actually act upon.

I am not interested in paying lip service to anti-capitalism online for profit, while also shrugging and going “wellll capitalism so big and bad that I have no choice but to participate”, then proceeding to haplessly ride that self righteous train of impotent performativity up into celebrity and success. 

Make no mistake: maintaining the pathetic stance of “Ugh, Capitalism” is an extremely lucrative affair. Leftist posturing is a market. These leftist influencers are making money. They know how to run a business. I do too, and I am happy that I do. I think I do a good job of it. But I want to contribute to society beyond my own success, and beyond empty words signalling abstract idealistic moral positions that seldom help anyone.

Yes, at one level I simply want to make beautiful things that I think are beautiful and I am happy to be funded in order to do that. That’s me, my life, my art, my business. But I don’t think my life is just about me getting the things I want and doing the things I want to do, even if there’s an industry that is built for people like me to do that. I don’t want to win the game of exploitation, I want to improve the conditions of the game. I want to do things to improve the lives of my audience and the systems we all rely on.

I’m not God, I’m not a politician, I can’t fix everything and I don’t understand everything. I am an artist and an online person, so naturally I think a lot about how to be an online person artfully




Three Propositions About Social Media:


1. There is something insidious about social media platforms that rely on the advertiser model to make money.

This business model incentivizes manufactured addiction, anxiety and negative emotion. A populace of phone users who are addicted, anxious, and angry and will be constantly glued to social media platforms, especially if social media is also their primary place to receive news and the place they enact many of their relationships.

Advertiser driven platforms are paid for not by users, but advertisers. The advertisers pay to display their ads wherever conscious human beings are looking, and the more people are looking the more advertisers are willing to pay. Therefore it is financially beneficial for the advertiser-reliant social media platform to make their app inherently addictive, and to make it feel a seamless extension of reality. Engagement is optimized when social media is a limb that users unthinkingly use when they are bored, horny, lonely, or are in search of serious conversations about the issues of the day (real or fake). It is ideal if your phone is impossible to put down and you perceive the platform as “the everything app” where you find your jokes and your friendship and your entertainment and your philosophy and your discourse and your history and your news and alternative news and your activism and your meaning.

The unfortunate truth is that negative emotion engenders anxious attachment and addiction far more effectively than positive emotion. Feelings of satisfaction allow you to put down the tool, while dissatisfaction causes you to continue using it in search of more stimulation. In order to optimize engagement a platform must provide a steady stream of stimulation while instilling a constant feeling of dissatisfaction and incompleteness.

This renders collective insanity rational. When we constantly use social media, we function as free labour for the social media platforms and the value of their advertiser space skyrockets. We are the product, the platform curates us so that we are optimally addictive and addicted, and advertisers finance this process with exorbitant enthusiasm. 

This is not a conspiracy theory, this is literally their business model. 

[Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now – Jaron Lanier, p. 91]

  1. Humanity will not throw away all of the positives that social media has given us, so we cannot outright annihilate social media.

And it’s unclear if it would be desirable to do so. We cannot go backwards. Humanity at large cannot be expected to delete all of their social media accounts without proper incentive to do it.

Likewise, massive capitalistic tech companies will not willingly sacrifice profits. They will not change unless forced, or it somehow proves profitable to do so. So how do we siphon users out of this vortex? Is it possible to reform such a broken system? I am in agreement with technocrats that the valuable bits are genuinely valuable. How do we keep the good while culling the bad?

  1. We can’t go back, but we can resurrect beautiful ideas from the past, manifesting them anew and reincorporating them into reality.

Even if it’s not optimally profitable, we can inspire collective action to pour our energy and attention into other models. If you have the money, if you have the skill, if you have the passion, if you have the community, throw that energy into alternatives that are beautiful, effective, and accessible.

I am not a person who believes humans are horrible and we need to beat back with a stick to make them behave like civilized animals. I believe that people respond to Quality. Critique and description is fine, but it doesn’t do anything if you provide no actual alternative course of action. We cannot stop at criticizing hegemonic reality, we must create alternative courses of action that
actually work. They have to be better. And if you have a Quality idea but you are not presenting it in a Quality manner, then the work is not done.

So this is what I am happy to consider my primary personal political project. I am interested in improving the internet’s ability to serve human values, human communities, and human thought.

I sincerely believe that if this is accomplished, it will be an intrinsic good for individuals and society. Improving our means of communication will also serve as a universal instrumental good improving our efficacy at solving problems of a greater scale. If we have new ways to interface, we have new ways to think, and if we’re passionate and thoughtful about designing these new interfaces, then we may think clearer than we do now. Hopefully communal clarity is something we all can agree is in need of improvement.




An Extremely Short History of The Addiction Economy:


Web 1.0 was the first manifestation of the internet. It was radically different from what we experience online today. Sometimes called the “read-only” web, it was much more like a library than an interactive melting pot. Users could find information, but it was not easy to generate new content.

The evolution from this less accessible state of the internet into the leviathan we see today is not well defined, but the overwhelming force that permanently locked us into our new reality is social media. 

Ease of access, ubiquity of use, and user generated content. This is Web 2.0, and the way we finance this free democratic user-friendly experience is through advertising.

Jaron Lanier is perhaps the single most sophisticated voice in tech critique that the digital age has seen. Since the turn of the century he has been sounding the bell on decadent mythologies and business practices within the tech industry, and his analysis has only proven increasingly relevant year after year. This isn’t due to genius or prescience so much as simple attention and honesty. Lanier is a software developer, a tech enthusiast who has worked within Silicon Valley as it rose to dominance. Far from a Luddite outsider, he is one of the fathers of Web 2.0. He has sold a company to Google and was the founder of the company that sold the first VR headset. Lanier is wonderful at describing the design of the internet because he is one of the people who designed it.

He describes the energy of early internet innovation as a contradictory fusion of utopian socialist and entrepreneurial libertarian values:



I think the fundamental mistake we made is that we set up the wrong financial incentives, and thats caused us to turn into jerks and screw around with people too much. Way back in the 80s, we wanted everything to be free because we were hippie socialists. But we also loved entrepreneurs because we loved Steve Jobs. So you wanna be both a socialist and a libertarian at the same time, and its absurd. But thats the kind of absurdity that Silicon Valley culture has to grapple with.

And theres only one way to merge the two things, which is what we call the advertising model, where everythings free but you pay for it by selling ads. But then because the technology gets better and better, the computers get bigger and cheaper, theres more and more data — what started out as advertising morphed into continuous behavior modification on a mass basis, with everyone under surveillance by their devices and receiving calculated stimulus to modify them. So you end up with this mass behavior-modification empire, which is straight out of Philip K. Dick, or from earlier generations, from 1984. 

Jaron Lanier Q&A on Intelligencer


The price of free internet is steep. What seems like democracy and freedom actually chains us to this process of automated mass engineering, slowly sharpening society into shorter attention spans, starker polarization, and anxious addiction. When the product is free, you are the product.

I don’t seek to deny any of the wonderful things that Web 2.0 has brought humanity. I am a child of the internet like everyone else in my generation. My job is online, my art is online, my soul is online. But this just means it is profoundly important that we strive for beauty online, remain critical of the internet, instead of just accepting whatever state of affairs is dominant or optimally profitable.

Lanier argues that the next step forward for humanity is to divest from the ad model. We can retain the wonderful innovations of the Internet without the insidious incentive structure spreading hairline cracks through our individual and collective psychologies.


 I think they’ve got to either choose socialism or capitalism cause this unholy combination we have is the worst of both worlds. If they want to choose socialism we could say the internet should be like the public library and that could work, if they want to choose capitalism we should say social media and search should be like Netflix you pay for them but they should also be kind of like Etsy or Patreon or something where you can make your living from them instead of being put out of work by the AI robots that are supposedly going to do that…

Jaron Lanier Q&A on Intelligencer



Which brings us back to capitalism, socialism, and gradients.




Two Radical Solutions That I Like But You Don’t:


I am completely comfortable revealing my personal biases here: My heart leans left. I was totally sucked into online rabbit holes that encouraged my interest in communism and socialism in my early twenties, and I remain interested in those systems of thought. 

However, as I became prominent online and noticed young people adopting and parroting my stated political and philosophical beliefs, I made it a priority to not endorse ideas carelessly with my platform. Just because I am a Christian and I read the book of Acts as a call to communal living, communitarian values, and collective ownership of resources, does not mean that I understand how such ideas can be implemented in complex modern society. I am not a politician or an economist, and I don’t understand enough about how the structure we live in currently works to suggest we have a revolution to change it from the ground up. I would not know how to reconstruct it.

Furthermore, I do not see the intrinsic value in dwelling on juvenile utopian visions of ideal societies that we do not exist inside of and that we cannot manifest in our lifetimes. Criticizing flaws in our society is useful, just as theorizing about paradisal states that we would like to move towards can be useful, but only if these activities lead us to take tangible action in the world that we really do live in.

If your critiques of capitalism are just a pacifier you suck on to ease your moral conscience as you strive for money like the rest of us, your worldview is not interesting to me. If you genuinely want to change and improve society, you must work on a gradient.

The people I respect politically tend to have the following three qualities:


1. A vision of what you would like to see in a perfect world.


2. Curiosity and appreciation for the complexity of the world we currently live in.


3. Preferences between currently existing options according to their relative closeness to your vision.


If you don’t have these things, do you even have any politics that you believe in? Or are you just Ugh, Capitalism-ing your way through life, or parroting bad faith Red Scare propaganda about secret Marxist plots, or blaming things that feel bad on secret cabals of cartoonishly powerful evil villains?

The thing that all of those amorphous spectres have in common is that such an impossibly vague and pervasive entity cannot be realistically negotiated with or defeated, and you can’t really do anything practical about it in your day to day life. It requires no specific action, no realistic knowledge about the world. They are thought terminating cliches that you can lazily indulge in while participating in society and enjoying public resources and drowning in social media addiction uncritically.

I no longer really care about what label people want to slap on me politically. I just care about making the world better, and giving people better tools with which to do that. So I happen to be a fan of both of Jaron Lanier’s proposed solutions to the social media dilemma. 

The first one is the socialist one, which sounds great to me.

Allow for public control of this “Digital Town Square”. Nationalize the thing. Take away the advertisements and profit incentive, let us fund it with our taxes and vote on how it should work and treat it like the national resource it is. It can be free and publicly funded like our libraries and our roads and our parks. 


Okay, Facebook is not going to be a business anymore. We said we wanted to create this thing to connect people, but were actually making the world worse, so were not gonna allow people to advertise on it; were not gonna allow anybody to have any influence on your feed but you. This is all about you. Were gonna turn it into a nonprofit; were gonna give it to each country; itll be nationalized. Well do some final stock things so all the people who contributed to it will be rich beyond their dreams. But then after that its done; its not a business. Well buy back everybodys stock and its done. Its over. Thats it.

Thats one option. So it just turns into a socialist enterprise; we let it be nationalized and its gone.

Jaron Lanier Q&A on Intelligencer


Love it.

However I can’t imagine this will occur easily. Even persuading a populace to democratically endorse regulations can be a difficult task. I personally am happy to advocate in favour of socialist democratic control over such valuable resources, but that requires such sentiment to be extremely popular, and that is the task of a lifetime.

Hence the alternative option: Pay for your internet.

This is also a hard sell, cause no one likes to pay for things they currently have for free, and some perceive this proposition as a cruel barrier of entry. But there are real benefits to this model, as it that shifts money closer towards those who actually generate the value and away from the pockets of our exploitative digital landlords.

If your social media platform is something you subscribe to for ten dollars a month, it is less incentivized to induce addiction. It has less incentive to permeate every facet of your life and maximize engagement at all costs. In theory such a design has a higher chance of being what Ivan Illich calls a Convivial Tool:



Tools foster conviviality to the extent to which they can be easily used, by anybody, as often or as seldom as desired, for the accomplishment of a purpose chosen by the user. The use of such tools by one person does not restrain another from using them equally. They do not require previous certification of the user. Their existence does not impose any obligation to use them. They allow the user to express his meaning in action.

Tools For Conviviality – Ivan Illich p. 35


Ideally, this is how we would truly see social media, as the limited and useful tool that it is. Something you pick up when you need it and put down when you do not. Something that is not incentivized to invade and alter every corner of your mind, until you are a highly engaged profitable user that advertisers can easily surveil and influence.

But even this option seems unrealistic in our current environment.

Again, I do not think that social media platforms will willingly shift to this model so long as the addiction economy is wildly profitable. The masses themselves need a lot of persuading to entertain this option, as they attack the idea of paid internet like the white blood cells of a reactionary society defending itself from a cure.

It’s hard not to see those who bemoan the toxicity of social media while viciously biting anyone who suggests their use should be limited as addicts, quick to reach for any rationale to justify their continued use. “I need to stay aware, paid internet is oppressive to the poor, if the government controls social media that’s like 1984.” Ugh, Capitalism. Ugh, Government. Ugh, Social Media. A hydra headed apathetic mantra of defeatism.

Personally, politically, I think the above solutions are both great solutions, but they both require democratic desire and government intervention. And I am not a politician or economist, so I offer these as my personal ideas that you can take or leave. I am voraciously interested in thoughtful alternative viewpoints (that don’t amount to an ‘Ugh,’ argument) and I love having this conversation. It’s a conversation we need to have. 

But how can we have that conversation while still being driven crazy by the platforms on which we seek to have that conversation? Do we really think we’re going to think clearly and effective about how to save ourselves from Twitter ON Twitter?

I don’t think so. So here is my actual pragmatic position.




Reaching For Web 1.5


What if listening to an inner voice or heeding a passion for ethics or beauty were to lead to more important work in the long term, even if it measured as less successful in the moment? What if deeply reaching a small number of people matters more than reaching everybody with nothing?

[Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now – Jaron Lanier, p. 68]


Futurists remain suspended between utopian socialism and entrepreneurial libertarianism. So called Web 3.0 evangelists turn towards the emergent experiments of the blockchain, cryptocurrency, NFTs and AI. Unfortunately it so far seems that these technologies are fuelled by the same mythologies and contradictions that made our current tech overlords. “Artificial Intelligence” is a particularly misleading phrase, as even the architects of those technologies readily admit. 

But I’m a pragmatist, not a techie. I don’t understand all those things enough to cast final judgements. If these tools prove useful, I look forward to seeing them manifest. In the meantime, we may already have all the tools we need to get started.

How do we change the way we do business so we aren’t beholden to the profit motives and incentive structures of ad driven social media? And how do we use social media to make connections, while not relying on it to sustain and mediate those connections?

The answer seems to involve a return to Web 1.0 sensibilities.

Independent websites, newsletters, blogs, email. Human to human contact, zero intermediary advertisers. 

We don’t need new solutions. We just need to use the ones we already have.

Patreon and Substack are celebrated for their use of paid subscriptions in lieu of ads. They also seem to provide smaller separate spaces, and better mediated relationships between creators and audiences. But Substack is now experiencing feature creep in their desire to dig into Twitter’s market, and Patreon can be fantastic, but seems to work best for the select elite who already have an audience. 

However the quiet thing that these two platforms have in common is something we don’t need them for: the mailing list.




Websites & WebRings


The early waves of web activity were remarkably energetic and had a personal quality. People created personal “homepages,” and each of them was different, and often strange. The web had flavor.

[You Are Not A Gadget – Jaron Lanier p. 15]


Patreon and Substack have started introducing features that allow unique domain names. So instead of, it could just be, while still using Patreon’s functionality. Eliza McLamb’s Substack is now just, while still using Substack’s functionality. The question that arises is… why not cut out the middle man and just make our own fucking websites?

How much of this process can we own? How human can things get? 

The proliferation of personal websites could cure us of some of these perverse incentives and restore some of the individual curation and creativity to online life.

But how can you get notifications for website updates? Easy. Newsletter.

The websites (that desire to) can simply have an option to voluntarily sign up for email updates. This is how most people already experience updates from Patreon and Substack. Just take money out of the equation and do it directly. A newsletter can be appraised, critiqued, ignored, or used without necessitating any online reaction whatsoever. If you desire to you can take the human time to do the human labour of emailing the author of the newsletter, but all engagement incentives are effectively wiped out. You’re forced into human territory, with all of its ambiguities and blemishes.

But what about community? Well, I have a couple of new ideas, but first it might be wise to highlight an old idea: WebRings.

WebRings were organic networks of recommendations and directories, where individual websites decided to create various lists and chains of other featured websites.So one interesting website voluntarily (and individually) decides to recommend a different website, or several other websites. Maybe they put together lists of sister websites based on a theme, or based on their city, or based on their personal relationships. 

WebRings are theoretically a way to spread circles of trust without the influence of platforms seeking to profit on our relationships. 

Step one is make a site. So here are three sources of inspiration:

  1. Jaron Lanier’s whimsical 90s https sendup @

The Jaron Lanier website is an up to date hand maintained catalogue of his many interests and labours. If I want Jaron Lanier, I go to and I get it directly. It is impossible to reduce Lanier to his tweets, or posts, or likes, or follows. His eclectic, and quirky personality bleeds through the page.

As it should, according to him:

MySpace preserved some of that flavor, though a process of regularized formating had begun. Facebook went further, organizing people into multiple-choice identities, while Wikipedia seeks to erase point of view entirely. (You Are Not A Gadget, p. 48)


  1. The effortless index of tech author Nadia Asparouhova @

Nadia Asparouhova is a fascinating writer and thinker who’s work I have admired for a while, particularly the manner in which she disseminates her thoughts. She seems less overtly cynical and proscriptive about social media than I, but has carved out a uniquely mediated presence online out of sincere self interest. Asparouhova found the unspoken hidden-in-plain-site incentives of social media were interfering with how she wanted to think and be perceived. 

She explains her motivations (the “website’s meta-ethos”) in her own warm words in this interview on someone else’s(!) unique independent website:


I like being able to publish my messier, half-formed thoughts, but I get turned off by putting those next to a like count. It feels like the more likes you get, the more you start writing things to get likes, whereas the REALLY weird, unpopular stuff probably wont get many likes at all.

I worry about likes changing how I think and interfering with my ability to wander and explore the edges. (I am truly envious, however, of people who are able to use Twitter as a place to braindump their thoughts! I think Im just too self-conscious.)


Pervasive, invisible design features almost always carry implicit values and subtle alterations to the human experience. Intentional, philosophically loaded norms like anonymity, comment sections, retweets, restacks, likes, and public follower count radically alter the way social and intellectual life operate. Infinitely refreshing feeds and bright red numbered notification buttons (that are impossible to scroll away from) constantly pull at your attention with shiny signs and scientifically satisfying noises.


The problem with likes is it naturally draws your eye towards the most-liked stuff, instead of deciding for yourself whats most interesting. It almost feels like Id be taking agency away from the reader by doing that. (Maybe Im being a little sanctimonious—e.g. shorter thoughts probably draw ppls attention more than bigger paragraphs, theres no way to totally avoid this problem—but Id rather not add to it, either.)


One of the elegant choices Asparaouhova made was to continue sharing her incomplete thoughts without the implicitly mandatory coercive bells and whistles. She features a Notes section chronicling half finished musings, without replies, comments, or numerical engagement rankings. It’s just actual human thoughts, that you can experience with your actual human heads. 

Thumbs at ease, soldiers. There is no enemy to defeat, no ally to defend, no stats to compute. Just your interest or lack thereof in another person’s thoughts.

[Artist Bill Wurtz has also made excellent use of this Notes model.]

Before the Tweet is a Tweet, it’s a thought, a joke, a feeling, a piece of humanity. Who says free labour for social media is the best use for such things?

  1. Finally, The Site of An Artist Within My Own Community @

saba is a young artist and engineer and their site is tiny and simple. But it’s beautiful, and unique, and it’s what you are capable of doing yesterday.

They feature their art, a Notes-like journal with a few entries, a “what im doing now” status that only displays one snapshot update at a time, contact info, and an “about” page that’s expressive beyond the requirements for a Twitter bio. It’s a presence online that belongs to them. They can make it as expansive or as sparse as they desire. 

When I talked to them about this essay they linked me this:

It’s a fun short scroll that totally eviscerates people like me that have a sleek sexy website that loads slower than saba’s or Nadia’s. You do not need tons of resources and skills and powers to get started on something like this, you can just do it. It is not illegal. It doesn’t need a .com address, as you’ve seen above it can be practically anything. I want to see more creativity from the general public on this sort of thing.

Author Savannah Brown hosts a beautiful site that is essentially built on this principle.

[Impromtu interview with Savannah Brown conducted at 9:35am Feb 25]

Savannah’s site also includes the beginnings of a digital scrapbook she calls a garden. It’s a little more designed, but ultimately its concept is extremely simple: a digital scrapbook where she can put gifs and videos and links and words and images that reflect her interests. She says she intended to make them yearly, to remember.

She also sent me the fountain of youth inspiration cornucopia that is neocities, a one click portal into HTML infinity. Click around in there!!! Holy shit!!!

So there. Several completely achievable examples. And guess what? You’re here on my website, being linked to other unique websites. The WebRing has begun.




A Gang of Humanist Highway Robbers:


Each of those artists and authors also utilize mass media platforms. Bill Wurtz and I use YouTube. Savannah does too, but she also has book deals, like Nadia and Jaron. Jaron Lanier has done a lot of public speaking at conferences, liveshows and on podcasts. I know of saba because I used my YouTube channel to redirect them to my Patreon and then used my Patreon to redirect them to my Website.

And this is exactly what I am suggesting you do. Use social media and mass communications as you must to reach out to people you value and people who value you.

Then take them away. Log off the app. Drop the tool, it has served its purpose.

Leave the casino while you’re ahead, cash out those precious human chips, and see how far we can get outside of the system. 

It’s worth trying, isn’t it?




Three Conversations With Loved Ones:


First, a colleague:

We were strolling the streets of Toronto talking about how much we hate marketing. I rave about social media as I always do, but they draw my attention to the world around us. It’s everywhere. Stadiums sponsored by banks, streetcars and subway stations plastered with ads for Ozempic and McDonalds, and the flower beds along the highway planted strategically to feature various company logos when in bloom.

We take the aesthetic angle: it’s ugly. But if we were to banish all this ugliness from existence, where would people find valuable things they don’t already know exist? 

We quickly arrived at the solution of catalogues. A tool that you use to find what you seek, and maybe some serendipitous beauty you didn’t know to seek.

My mind wanders to phone books and church membership directories. Catalogues of people with their resources and roles and interests, email addresses and websites and webrings where individuals contact individuals, and overlapping circles of trust proliferate, maintaining the undesignable human mystery of socialization, resisting the carrot and stick designed to appear un-created. Individuals and communities instead of algorithms.



Second, a friend:

We speak often about our phone addictions and what we value in our friendships. We go through seasons, sometimes texting constantly for week, sometimes not really speaking for a month. What we never do is take offence when the other doesn’t reply.

We realize the horrific entitlement a phone number “gives” you to someone else’s time. Why should I know the exact minute someone reads my texts? Why should I feel ignored if I call them and they don’t answer? Do I really have the right to alter your conscious experience 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 1/4 days of the year? 

Why won’t Instagram allow you to toggle your read receipts? What does this do to us? Increase anxious anticipation of reply? Create the need to reply?

Email feels more respectful, particularly professionally. Offer someone an object with which they can do what they will. Reply now or later, ignore it altogether, pour your evening a comprehensive response, or fire back a single sentence reply. There is no way for your thumb to slip and plunge you into your newsfeed and no audience to perform the interaction to.

I begin writing physical letters to my loved ones. My heart in ink and paper, an act performed in embodied time. We don’t need constant contact, nor do we have it, it’s an illusion. Never apologize to me for being busy. You deserve more from me than these texts. Have this artifact to lovingly preserve. 

My mother still has letters from lost lovers that bring her to tears. She has photo albums of moments I don’t remember, but the film feels alive.

I’ve lost lifetimes in the abandoned camera rolls of my devices. The infinity of photos has paradoxically left us with nothing. I lived an adolescence devoid of history.



I pick up the tools of my parents and attempt to create history anew.



Third, a mentor:

Rosemary is a genius and speaking to her makes me feel like my head is going to explode.

She likes the directory idea, she has another one: a bulletin.

“So this would involve creating an art object, but to use your church membership directory idea, think of what shows up in a church newsletter: Janis is holding a potluck on Friday, Randy needs more donations for the thing, Tim is looking to talk to people who have experience in blank.”


A centralized newsletter operating as a digital bulletin board for a community. Individuals send the Editors community notes, then the Editors curate a monthly letter advertising opportunities and needs. 

Email this guy if you want to be part of this. This piece of media is relevant to our community’s values. Has anyone tried this? I’m looking for solutions to this problem. Email me if you can help.

Zero algorithmic intervention. Circles of trust. Different rooms for different things. Rooms you can leave.




You Can’t Make An Entrance If You Never Make An Exit:


You can never guarantee there won’t be bad actors, that you won’t be hurt, that it all might suck because people suck. But that’s the human condition. At least we’re dealing with that problem instead of the problems we create by trying to design humanity away.

Our societal confusion about accountability contributes to our inability to build communities. How can we have community without sin? Where will we find heroes that never fail us? If we can’t have them, the platform will have to do. You can’t cancel the platform. So we hold to the platform instead of the community. Instead of people.

Cancellations are so incredibly good for engagement. I can’t shake the sense we’ll never learn how to hurt and be hurt properly while performing the process for an audience.

We can’t fix these problems here. We need to go to smaller rooms.

Social media is a reverberant aircraft hangar with 5 billion people screaming in one big room. Dehumanizing statistical calculations are used to change minds and hearts en masse, from the top down, to make this process optimally profitable and addictive.

No single person decided to do this. Its automated, the responsibility diluted into the solvent of AI mythology. But this isn’t the inevitable face of some sentient supercomputer, and it’s not a value-less reflection of humanity. It is a curation of our worst tendencies, cheapening your every thought and feeling, corroding your faith in democracy and human beings.

Do not allow the online space to be dominated by bad incentives and digital landlords, dragging our culture down into decadence while telling us it’s our fault, it wouldn’t be this ugly if WE weren’t so ugly, if YOU weren’t so ugly.

It’s not you.

It’s the room.