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> The problem is the business model based on the manipulation of individual behavior.

I don't think this is the right target to blame. The much deeper reason is people ARE stupid, while think they are clever and correct. You, me, all the others included. And at the same time, the education once applied to us, failed. Simply put, it's not a technology problem, it's a sociology problem.

Around the year 2002, when I was connected to the Internet for the first time, I thought it was a magic place where you can discuss with people on a topic until the truth emerges and learned, then everybody come to a conclusion and live happily ever after.

That thought was the very first few which been destroyed. Because I instead found people are more likely to turn discussion into a "clan war" and mob each other instead. And that was long before Twitter or even Google is a thing.

Here is a book that many people may already read, The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind: https://www.amazon.com/Crowd-Study-Popular-Mind/dp/143410055...




I connected quite a bit earlier, mostly Usenet and BBS’, and when EFnet came along a lot of that. People like to talk about Eternal September and other depredations of communities, but the truth is that while things functioned more smoothly earlier on, it was always a bunch of people and people more or less act like warring groups of primates. If someone had come back from the future and only told us about the extent of the internet in this time, I think that a lot of people could have extrapolates the shit-show of today from what we’d experienced back then.

The only semi-surprise was the move to mobile devices opening the internet up to people who are almost too stupid to live. Not just tribal, not just willing to fight for their version of reality, but dumb as rocks. There used to at least be a filter (which steadily widened) of needing to know how to use a computer and get online. That is just gone now, and we’re in the true agora.

It is not fun, and all of which is to say it is as you say, a sociology problem. BJT it exists in this form because of powerful and ubiquitous technology. It’s also true that the underlying sociological problem has been ruthlessly capitalized on by people who realized we warring primates could be readily exploited for attention and therefore, revenue. It was always going to be messy, but instead of people trying to fight against then current, some of the richest, most powerful and brightest people are actively trying to sweep people away for money.


BBSes were never as great of an advertising buy as an image-adjacent to an Instagram pic.

Nobody looking at a BBS could anticipate why BBSes would eventually vanish, while Instagram is truly here to stay.


Depends on how you define "here to stay." All fashions come and go. I am willing to absolutely guarantee that there will be no trace of Instagram in 50 years, maybe it would vanish in 20 years. It could be irrelevant even earlier than 10 years. Same with Twitter, Facebook, and other so-called giants. 50 years ago, Woodstock didn't even happen yet. A lot changes in that amount of time.


Depending on how big they are, they can sustain themselves. The pioneers have a high mortality rate, but the survivors are usually pretty rugged.

Commodore and DEC went under, but Apple and Microsoft will probably bury us both.

Facebook, via both its main site and also WhatsApp and Instagram, seems to be solidifying its position.

Google's already there.

Twitter: hard to say, they're the ones most likely to go under in my opinion.


I would be curious to know your theory on why BBS's vanished, and also why you suppose Instagram is here for good.

Because of the advertising revenue, or something eles?

For contrast, I just figure BBS died due to eternal September on the hardware scaling side - the rate at which people became computers users increased much faster than the rate at which people became sysadmins and moderators.

So, the internet became unmoderated, un-administered.


some of the richest, most powerful and brightest people are actively trying to sweep people away for money.

This is a big part of the problem IMO. General loss of moral values. I'm not religious at all, and criticize religions all the time, but one has to admit that when Christianity was the driving force in the western world, there were at least some values that were kind of universally accepted. Yes, there was lots of hypocrisy, and people acted against said values routinely, but at the very least most would feel bad about it or fear for their public image, and try to not be needlessly extreme at breaking them.

Now, Christianity has been replaced by ruthless capitalism, and people don't even have to pretend that they care about anything else than making piles of money. And if a company is criticized for using manipulative or exploitative techniques to make more money, regular people will even jump to defend it. I see it everyday on the Internet (e.g. forums for free games with monetizing techniques that border on inducing gambling addiction). They have accepted making money as the supreme value.

These capitalist morals that place money in the center of everything must die and be replaced by something else, or we are headed for dystopia.


Christianity before the reformation was pretty wild with things like the purhase of indugences being common[1].

Point being that Christianity is not some bastion of past hope and glory but is a mutable set of morals that have radically changed in their 2000+ years of exsistance.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indulgence#Late_Medieval_Usage


Perhaps you have heard of the Spanish Inquisition:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Inquisition

Perhaps the point of Jesus dying on the cross was to try to give some push back in the world against how truly horrifying things were two millennia ago, but it wasn't that long ago that personal duels were socially acceptable in the US and even more recently lynchings of people of color were a thing.

I'm not convinced that there is actually some lost golden age of wonderful morality somewhere in our past. I'm highly skeptical of such claims.


Now? Really?

Francisco de Quevedo, some 400 years ago: https://lyricstranslate.com/en/poderoso-caballero-es-don-din...


I think Jaron's argument is that there was a choice to either "take payment for internet services" or "have them free and market". The later won out and now its not just marketing it manipulating to keep engagement so they can market more.

that's my takeaway of Jaron's points in his Tavis Smiley interview. (The transcript seems to not be there anymore)

part 1 https://wgby.org/episode/57812 part 2 https://wgby.org/episode/57813

edit:payback has the transcript (click to show)

https://web.archive.org/web/20180206043916/http://www.pbs.or...

https://web.archive.org/web/20180214180024/http://www.pbs.or...


So you agree the business model is manipulative, but that the ones being manipulated should be the "target to blame" for their stupidity?


How about I put it this way: Tech companies (at least in the beginning) didn't realize how easy it is to turn some people into mobs.

Also notice, I'm not saying people are stupid so don't blame the business model.

I rather going to say: Go blame the business model, and while you at it, don't forget to also notify people that maybe they should be more wiser when posting stuff.


One man's manipulation is another's customer service. The business model is to give you more of what you read, share and reply to, and less of what you don't. I don't see how that's "manipulation" any more than my local coffeeshop selling me good coffee so that I'll keep coming back and buying more coffee from them is "manipulation".

If your social media experience is "awful" I think that's a reflection of you rather than something inherent in the system. My social media experience is pretty positive, because that's what I engage with and respond to.


Interesting. I thought the point of the article was about a manipulative business model and its corresponding damage to society. Looking at your individual experience compared to another's is irrelevant.


It could hardly be more relevant. If the business model is a particular kind of manipulation then most users should experience that manipulation. How could we ever hope to judge whether the business model is manipulating people except by looking at more people's experiences?


What if the coffee shop were putting a lot more sugar in the drinks than they claimed?


If they were lying to me I'd have a problem with that. I don't think I see the analogy though? I'm told I'm getting an algorithmically prioritized feed of my friends' posts and that seems to be what I am getting?


It's a weak analogy. But the idea is that perhaps the algorithm is giving you what is good for them instead of what is good for you.

So then you are in the much more difficult place of deciding how they are characterizing the feed and how that lines up with what they are putting into it and so on.




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