The Buffer of Space and Place
I suspect that the distinction CJ Eller is circling is the difference between space and place. Forums—as opposed to open networks like Twitter—are more likely to feel like a where as opposed to an ethereal nowhere.
This is an important distinction to think about. It especially makes me ponder how spaces and places play off each other. I write this at a co-working space but will soon be back to my house, a place. The experiential difference between the two is buffered by commuting (space or place or simply an in-between?).
How frequently do we jump between spaces and places online? With little to no buffering time, just the switch of a tab, the contextual switching can be harsh. Jumping from a forum discussion to my Twitter feed is jarring. Why is that?
Open networks won't go away anytime soon, so I wonder if there is a way to make these places more like spaces. What genuine things can be done that isn't the equivalent of making a co-working space more like a coffee shop? Decentralized social networks might play an interesting role here. These are open networks with niche interests, like Mastodon instances that focus on certain hobbies or lifestyles. It takes a space and makes it self-selective like a place.
I wonder what other possibilities could be.
Could work the other way around? What virtues of space could place adopt?