Strolling and Wiretapping
This distinction between the social media experience of strolling downtown versus wiretapping I found in Tech Learning Collective's Imagining a optimistic cyber-future is quite fascinating:
As you log in, instead of being encouraged to doomscroll, imagine being presented with a tip on homemade bread-making posted by the proprietors of your neighborhood bakery. Perhaps you are acquainted with them through their 50th anniversary video call “party” some months back, an event that had simultaneous in-person and virtual meeting spaces as has become commonplace. Also, you don’t “follow” the bakery account to receive the update any more than you stalk an individual across town as they go about their day. Rather, you simply happened to be in the same (cyber)space at the same time and “overheard” them in the middle of a public discussion about bread-making. This mimics the way your ear naturally tunes in to a conversation between people you know when you walk by them on a crowded street. Browsing social media will feel more like strolling downtown, and less like quietly wiretapping a distant target.
Oddly enough, I found this post by such a digital downtown stroll as it describes. Joining a chatroom one evening, someone dropped a link to the post. I decided to keep it for future reading.
Even though I was just lurking in the chatroom, it felt like I was passing through a little downtown get-together. The lurking here felt like the “overhearing” mentioned in the post, like the kind that Joanne McNeil celebrates in Lurking (definitely a book I recommend). Less like I was eavesdropping from a surveillance control center that some social feeds can feel like.
How to create more of that downtown experience and less of the surveillance control center?