Fang Talks

Call of the wild!

It appears the quality of social media content has been declining fairly steadily.

I had the chance to Skype with the technical founder of Urbit today (!!!), and we spoke a bit about the way the network would (should) be solving problems we see arise in today’s internet landscape. The state Urbit is in right now is very comparable to Usenet back in the early days. A small community of people savvy enough to find their way in. It makes for a very tight-knit culture. And yet, as exampled by social media these days, it can grow to become a very… noisy and unclean environment when more and more people get on board.

So how do you prevent that? Urbit wants to do be the do-over that does it all right, so this is one of the problems it needs to solve. Make no mistake, this problem isn’t entirely social. That means we can solve it through well-designed tech, or at least facilitate a solution.

Smaller communities seem to work fine on their own. And that’s logical, their interests and opinions are largely aligned. The trouble starts when these communities get “polluted” by large amounts of people who don’t share their values. Do you just split everyone up into tiny communities? Then it wouldn’t be all that much of a network. But there’s still going to be overlap here and there. Some communities may share part of each other’s interests (I’m sure car enthusiasts and engine builders will get along to some degree), and no individual belongs in just one single community.

You want to aim for a system which allows people to be safe with “their own kind” while preventing strong bubbling and keeping inter-community relations dynamic. None of the big platforms out there were designed with something like this in mind, but Urbit gets to facilitate this kind of stuff from the core up.

But that’s what I saw of the big man’s vision. Chances are this short writeup is awfully muddy in comparison.
~ Fang

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