It was late 2013 when I drove past a little dog head with big floppy ears attached poking out of the long grass in the backwoods of Florida. My girlfriend at the time said we had to go back and get him, so we did.
He was timid at first but friendly, and came right up to us when we approached. We took him home and fed him. I was reading a lot of Salinger then, so I named him Holden.
After many, many long years of searching, it finally found me: a relevant social media advertisement. It was for the Tidbyt, a gorgeous retro display encased in wood that, among many other things, can show arrival times for the NYC subway.
In discussing the network topology of social networks — whether centralized like Facebook or federated like ActivityPub — I think the ultimate goal is for users to never actually encounter the underlying architecture.
To remain human-centric, ideally services wouldn’t bend social interactions to fit a chosen technical design. Instead, you would just publish to the network you choose, freely pick your persona for each place (how you present yourself), and keep control of your content (i.e. you still have it if a network goes offline, and you can move it from place to place). For bonus points, you could also build dynamic new social interactions on the network.
This idea isn’t revolutionary; we’ve seen most of these things in one form or another. But have we ever had it all in one place?
After moving everything into my Brooklyn apartment, I’m still between settling in and feeling like I’m only visiting. Some new routines have formed, others are developing; I’ve found an instant comfort — in the voices of strangers on the street, in the barren trees, in the sound of the train going by. Parts of me are fully here and present, others are still elsewhere, presumably making their way up the east coast.
Today I’m thinking about online misinformation. Sure, at some point, you might try to address it systemically — through “fact checking” on platforms and maybe even regulation. But I think these are only superficial fixes that don't address root causes.
I’ve loved this place in the South for what it was. I spent my twenties here accidentally, moving to the beach after college with my then-girlfriend, and later to the city for a job. Met good people. Slowly replaced who I’d always been with this southern Me. Bought a house even though I was always looking for a way away. I figured I’d live here a year or two. That was seven years ago.