A lonely experience

After 6 years in jail, Hossein Derakhshan gets familiar again with this new social network based web again. He was sentenced in 2008 when blogs were everywhere, now he is back into today’s internet where the mainstream is a centralized ad and surveillance machine.

Two paragraphs hit me really in this post. First about popularity and opinions:

Popularity is not wrong in and of itself, but it has its own perils. In a free-market economy, low-quality goods with the wrong prices are doomed to failure. Nobody gets upset when a quiet Brooklyn cafe with bad lattes and rude servers goes out of business. But opinions are not the same as material goods or services. They won’t disappear if they are unpopular or even bad. In fact, history has proven that most big ideas (and many bad ones) have been quite unpopular for a long time, and their marginal status has only strengthened them. Minority views are radicalized when they can’t be expressed and recognized.

This is one of the reasons why we see a decline in the quality of mainstream media. It’s prioritized by a centralized algorithm sorted by popularity which always just a thin layer of information that people are allowed to see. And the majority are okay with that. They’re losing their curiosity and the ability to deep dive into something. They are just scrolling mindlessly while the same time getting impatient. That’s why we see a lot of fake news spreading quickly. It’s not because false information is a new phenomenon, but because people are caring less.

In the blogging era, the key to discovery was the hyperlink which wasn’t organized into a convenient stream, but it was presented as a mesh of information where you were forced to take a deep dive. I love to take deep dives because that’s how I learn. A prioritized stream takes away this experience and makes the mesh into a one-dimensional line.

Nowadays a lot of people sign into Facebook and…

When I log on to Facebook, my personal television starts. All I need to do is to scroll: New profile pictures by friends, short bits of opinion on current affairs, links to new stories with short captions, advertising, and of course self-playing videos. I occasionally click on like or share button, read peoples’ comments or leave one, or open an article. But I remain inside Facebook, and it continues to broadcast what I might like. This is not the web I knew when I went to jail. This is not the future of the web. This future is television.

You’re locked into a blurry information sphere which filters the outside view. You’re technically not alone, because a lot of spheres are sitting next to each other but you can’t really see what’s going in them. Blogs, on the other hand, are made and curated by people, not by algorithms. It makes them less convenient for mindless scrolling but this is their beauty. On the contrary, Facebook is just a fine-tuned bubble programmed to you by some artificial intelligence engine. It’s not social, it’s a fucking lonely experience…