"There are only two industries that call their customers 'users' - illegal drugs and software." - Edward Tufte
In a world where online connection has become primary we are blind to the strides social engagement technology has made in terms of behavior modification.
Behavior Modification Empires
Have you ever stepped away from your mobile device and had alerts pull you back? Or, been browsing Instagram and an ad pops up for something you had 'just been talking about'... Seems like magic right? Well it's not - there are actually teams dedicated to building models that will predict your actions.
Jaron Lanier so eloquently describes these too big to fail social networks as 'Behavior Modification Empires'. If you stop to grasp the reality of the situation you'll begin to understand Instagram, Facebook, Google, and others are all in the business of trading in human futures.
If something is free, you are the product
What this means is if a website, or application, is spending its resources to deliver content without asking for anything in return then they are selling information about you to others in order to profit.
Take for example Facebook - Free to use, but the company employs 50,000+ with assets topping 100 billion all without charging you a dime. Where does the money come from? By tracking and monitoring everything you do on their platform they in return sell your personal information and profit off your data.
The list of negatives resulting from an advertising model that transitioned to behavior modification is quite large and includes such examples as:
- Increased polarization in society
- Fake news (the truth is boring)
- Addictive screen time
- Decreased self worth
It's time we put the doom and gloom in the past and transition away from applications that treat us as computing elements.
This is stupid, we can do better 😍
There was once a time when the interest of users was more important than profits. We built these things - now it's our responsibility to demand products are created humanely.
This migration journey starts with DID (Decentralized Identifiers). The concept is simple - Your identity in your control.
With the average person having 70-80 passwords it's become easier to simply "Login with Facebook", or "Sign in with Google", but why give up control of your identity for simplicity?
DID is not controlled by any other individual, or third party, but rather is autonomous and secured by Blockchain technology.
Next, Own your data
Getting your own universal ID is the easy part, next is understanding the idea that you should have the power to turn on and off access to your data.
This technology has been in development for years and has been referred to as PC2 or Web 3.0:
"Building a personal cloud computer, or PC2, that is as powerful as any public cloud, represents a major paradigm shift for the new internet" - Rong Chen, Founder of Elastos.
Ultimately the infrastructure that will produce an era of Social Media 2.0 will be developed by combining DID + decentralized storage + peer-to-peer communication.
Where do we go from here?
Change will not come as a result of fiscal action, nor the hope that social media empires will self regulate, rather the migration to Social Media 2.0 will come as a result of user awareness and alternative solutions.
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