As far as how humans connect to one another, what’s next appears to be group chats and private messaging and forums, returning back to a time when we mostly just talked to the people we know. Maybe that’s a better, less problematic way to live life. Maybe feed and algorithms and the “global town square” were a bad idea. But I find myself desperately looking for new places that feel like everyone’s there. The place where I can simultaneously hear about NBA rumors and cool new AI apps, where I can chat with my friends and coworkers and Nicki Minaj. For a while, there were a few platforms that felt like they had everybody together, hanging out in a single space. Now there are none.
To each his own, of course, but after seven or eight years on Twitter — I started in early 2007 — I decided that “everybody together, hanging out in a single space” was a nightmare from which I hoped to awake. It took me a while to awaken completely, but I finally got there, and don’t ever want to go back.
Pierce is wrong about one thing: maybe group chats and private messaging are focused on talking to “the people we know,” but that’s not true of forums, which tend to be built around common interests rather than personal acquaintance. I’m hoping that with all of Reddit’s self-inflicted wounds we’ll get some alternatives, but you know, we could do worse than go back to Usenet.
Actually, I think that would be really cool. I’d love to see a Usenet renaissance, in which case maybe Panic would resume development of their fabulous old Usenet client Unison.
(But yes, I know that there are problems with this idea. But a guy can dream. And there are infinitely fewer barriers to the fixing of open protocols than to the stable, lasting repair of closed ones.)