There exists some ideal personal social infrastructure, so let’s build it! The first step is always the same. Even if we don’t know how to build it yet, we have to just get started.
If our goal is for people to be happy, healthy, and productive, then we may study how these things can emerge from communication and collaboration on the internet, and design tools that facilitate it.
Rather than typical corporate design goals such as user adoption, click-through, and time-on-page which are necessitated by the need to generate business value, a freely shared and self-managed social network can be built to simply fulfill user needs.
With ubiquitous internet connectivity and a large developer base across the world, free software can outcompete any commercial offering whenever a compelling niche exists.
Free software thrives when proprietary alternatives cannot offer crucial features that a collaboratively developed implementations can.
Commercial social networks are bound to anti-features that are bad for users, and offer very little value that open systems cannot replicate.
Self-management is a requirement of the ideal personal social infrastructure because it is the only way to achieve self-sufficiency and eliminate manipulation and abuse by third parties. Our future depends on our ability to avoid manipulation and misinformation, so we must minimize the ability of centralized entities to do it.
Self-managed infrastructure has not been possible for most online services in the past, but the power and number of devices and connections controlled by individuals has ballooned in recent years. The resources controlled by most small groups of people are more than adequate to handle the vast majority of the group’s online interactions with high availability, data durability, and low latency.
Considering that text is sufficient for deep conversation and collaboration, every individual has vastly more resources than required for basic social interaction.
The deployment of highly available infrastructure and services has become automated enough to be feasible by non-experts with little to no administrative burden.
More goals (TBD)
To understand the goals that an ideal social network should have, we will start by considering the most important things that can be accomplished with information:
- Content creation and sharing
- Consensus seeking
If this personal social infrastructure is as useful as commercial social networks for these purposes, then it has the potential to be a compelling alternative to them.
Updated: 19 January, 2022
Created: 6 December, 2021