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Can the online community be saved? Is it even worth saving? - The Globe and Mail
"It seems quaint now to speak of online communities in romantic terms. I’ll do it anyway. For the past few decades, we’ve been in love with them.

What made them so appealing was the way that made the world suddenly seemed to open up. Bulletin boards, and then forums, then blogs allowed everyone from knitting enthusiasts to politics nerds to find and talk to others who shared their interests or views. We liked that, and made hanging out there a mainstay of life. But as can happen with love, things can sour bit by bit, almost imperceptibly, until one day you awake and find yourself in toxic relationships.

It wasn’t always this way. Years ago, in the mid-2000s, I sat in a Toronto basement apartment, adding my thoughts to posts on a site called Snarkmarket, which delved into the artsy and philosophical sides of technology and media. To my mind, these wide, wild, intimate discussions seemed to capture everything wonderful about the new modern age: I found like-minded individuals and, eventually, a community.

And then, I was on a plane, flying over the deeply blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico in November, 2013. Somehow, a blog comment section had led me from Toronto to Florida. A group flew in from all over the continent to St. Petersburg, and brought our online discussions to life around tables replete with boozy pitchers shared on patios in the thick Florida air. Putting faces to usernames made fleeting connections feel more solid, and years later, a small number of us are still in touch: so much for the alienating nature of technology.

It does, however, already feel like a different era, and that such recent history can seem so far away brings with it a strange sense of vertigo. Logging on each morning now, I sometimes forget why I ever had so much faith in all this novelty, and wonder if it can be saved at all.

The first fault line was when the centre of gravity of our online socializing shifted to giant platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and more. With that shift to mainstream sites composed of tens or hundreds of millions of users colliding together in a riot of opinion and expression, online communities started to seem unwelcoming, even dangerous places."



"It is tempting to say, then, that the solution is simple: barriers. A functioning community should draw a line around the kind of people it wants, and keep others out. But that’s also demoralizing in its own way. It suggests those lofty ideals that we could find community with people of all sorts across the globe are well and truly dead, forever.

Anil Dash doesn’t believe they are – at least not fully. A mainstay in the American tech scene after founding the blogging platform Typepad in the early 2000s, he has been vocal in his disappointment that platforms such as Twitter have been slow in responding to abuse. “The damage can be done now is so much more severe because everyone is on these networks and they have so much more reach,” he says on the phone from New York. “The stakes are now much higher.”"



"At a scale of tens of thousands or even millions of people, it’s not just notions of community that are lost, but norms, too, where what would be obvious offline – don’t yell at someone to make a point, don’t dominate a conversation just because you can, and so on – are ignored because of the free-for-all vibe of much social media.

Britney Summit-Gil, a writer, academic and researcher of online communities at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, suggests that while sites such as Facebook and Reddit can be full of hate and harassment, there are increasingly effective tools to build smaller, more private spaces, both on those platforms, and on other sites such as messaging app Slack, or even group text chats.

Summit-Gil also argues that in adopting the idea of community, these huge platforms are responsible for endorsing the principle of guidelines more generally: rules for how and by what standards online communities should operate, that allow these spaces to work at all.

Our online relationships aren’t dead, but our sense of community has become more private: hidden in plain sight, in private Facebook or Slack groups, text chats with friends, we connect in closed spaces that retain the idea of a group of people, bound by shared values, using tech to connect where they otherwise might not be able to. Online communities were supplanted by social media, and for a time we pretended they were the same thing, when in fact they are not.

Social media is the street; the community is the house you step into to meet your friends, and like any house, there are rules: things you wouldn’t do, people you wouldn’t invite it in and a limit on just how many people can fit. We forgot those simple ideas, and now it’s time to remember.

My own online community that took me to Florida was, sadly, subject to the gravity of the social giants. It dissipated, pulled away by the weight of Twitter and Facebook, but also the necessities of work and money and family. Nonetheless, we still connect sometimes, now in new online places, quiet, enclosed groups that the public world can’t see. New communities have sprouted up, too – and I still dive in. I’m not sure I would do so as easily, though, had it not been for what now threatens to be lost: that chance to get on a plane, look down from above and see, from up high, what we share with those scattered around the globe.

That sense of radical possibility is, I think, worth fighting to save."
navneetalang  socialmedia  online  internet  web  anildash  britneysummit-gil  2017  consolidation  tumblr  instagram  twitter  facebook  social  lindywest  snarkmarket  community  gamergate  reddit  scale  typepad  abuse 
may 2017 by robertogreco
hello typepad: Rip, Mix, Burn, 2011 Style
"Leapf - is the best "meta"-dashboard out there right now. Leapf's proprietor Mark wrote (somewhere) that Leapf was about the moon, not the finger, and it really works. Rather than simply aggregate and collapse links and images pulled out of Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, TypePad, etc., leapf figures out what people are linking to and collapses the feedback into one stream. It does more too, but it's relevant here because it's the best reading experience if you want to "cross the streams." The Twitter app is related and has some very similar ideas, but it still feels like a little bit of a mess to me."
davidjacobs  laepf  tumblr  twitter  facebook  aggregator  aggregation  typepad  vimeo  instapaper  reeder  ipad  ios  applications  reading  flipboard  zinio 
january 2011 by robertogreco
Macworld | iPhone Central | iBlogger brings multi-platform blog posting to iPhone
"Bloggers looking to post from their iPhone have a new option in illumineX, inc.’s new iBlogger 1.0.5 application, released today in the App Store. It costs $9.99. Based on illumineX’s Mac blogging application ecto, iBlogger is compatible with many of the most common blogging systems, such as MovableType, TypePad, WordPress, Drupal and others. It also works with popular blog hosting services like Xanga and Blogger and supports both the MetaWeblog and MovableType publishing standards that many other blog engines use."
iphone  applications  bloggin  wordpress  drupal  xanga  blogger  typepad  moveabletype  ios 
september 2008 by robertogreco

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