I propose not a new platform but an entirely new architecture for the entire social media world. Just as the blogosphere is decentralized, social media posting should be decentralized. Just as you own your own blog, you should own your own social media data.

This is not a new idea. It's the idea behind r/mastodon_social, /r/minds, /r/gab soon(?), and /r/diaspora and many more (give me a list and I'll link to it). We need to bring all of these together with one common standard (maybe a successor of ActivityPub? But that's not for me to decide), and into the mainstream with more funding and attention. #DecentralizeSocialMedia!

Please strike tomorrow and/or the next day (July 4-5). That is, don't use big social media except to repeatedly announce/agitate that you're on strike. Please sign this Declaration of Digital Independence. Please get all your influential friends involved ASAP so we can get millions of people announcing, repeatedly, that they're on strike tomorrow. The media, both left and right (I've been interviewed by both the Guardian and Fox News) are pretty solidly behind us.

So come on, everyone, let's make this even bigger. Make a (nonpartisan, respectful) noise on Facebook, Twitter, etc., please, and other networks...on many, I already have no account!

PROOF HERE.

Comments: 147 • Responses: 52  • Date: 

MattLongCT25 karma

Do you consider Wikipedia social media? What about Facebook Messenger and Discord)?

LarrySanger30 karma

Wikipedia, not really. It needs to be decentralized too, which is what we're doing on Everipedia.org. But it's not social media.

TBH, the whole Internet needs to be decentralized. Slightly more specifically, cloud services need to be decentralized. I'm a big fan of NASes, local hosting, zero-knowledge hosting, and blockchain-related hosting.

Facebook Messenger and Discord, sure. Let's rule them in as social media. Chat/messenging apps are maybe not the core concept, but pretty close especially because you can follow people and form groups.

nerdify4214 karma

Did I just jump into an episode of Silicon Valley?

LarrySanger5 karma

I never watched an episode.

I live in Ohio, for the record. :-)

nerdify424 karma

Oh man the whole last season is about a decentralized internet. It's a great show!

Edit: it's still running, I meant the latest season

Also, I talk to real estate agents in Ohio all the time (Texas here)

LarrySanger1 karma

Ohio's a great place.
I'll have to check out the show!

kevinhaze16 karma

What is one thing about Wikipedia that you regret, or otherwise wish you could go back and change?

Big fan of your work by the way.

LarrySanger26 karma

Thanks, Kevin.

Two things. First, I really, really wish I had pushed harder for a rating system that privileged views of content area experts. Second, more importantly, I wish I organized a system of democratic constitutional governance of Wikipedia. What they have now is essentially mob rule. The inmates took over the asylum. These are basically the issues over which I permanently left Wikipedia in early 2003—because Jimmy Wales adamantly refused to admit the problems I saw, much less to do anything about them. And they have continue to afflict the system.

But I very much regret not doing anything about them earlier, when I was still on board. I could have. I've been making up for it in various ways ever since.

prairiewinter0 karma

Why Jimmy disagreed?

LarrySanger6 karma

Maybe ask him? It's really ultimately hard to tell without being able to read his mind.

Rywell10 karma

I definitely support your idea and I want to understand more about why this is so important. What do you think are the long-term consequences if your vision is not achieved?

LarrySanger8 karma

Why it is so important—my view is best expressed in the Declaration of Digital Independence and in some more detail in this Wired article.

But I'll restate it now. If we come together in our millions to declare that we're on strike and that we stand together for a system in which own and control our own data; the social media giants can't hold our data in silos they control; we contribute to a common data pool drawn upon by all apps; and in general the social media world is decentralized, then these out-of-control corporations will not be able to systematically violate our rights to privacy, security, and free speech.

If we come together in millions, it will unlock funds, political support, developer excitement, and user engagement for a new kind of "social media" which is built upon more solid old Internet lines.

What are the long-term consequences if my vision is not achieved? There's an interesting question. Corporations will continue to run silos that are essentially vertical monopolies for the sort of social media that they are. Because power corrupts, the massive concentration of power in those corporations leads to equally massive amounts of government control. Then some governments decide to nationalize their local copies. Which leads to national break-ups of Facebook, Twitter, etc. Which then leads to decentralization of social media.

LarrySanger6 karma

On the other AMA subreddit, /u/EDHGod wrote: "The irony of using social media to boycott social media is astonishing. Next I'll go on a march against Nike wearing Jordans."

LarrySanger2 karma

Heh.

Well, that's the thing, isn't it? Social media has its massive power by entirely dominating our social lives. How could one organize a boycott of social media without using social media? What, would you use email? Snail mail?

In any event, I don't propose to strike against all of social media, but only ginormous centralized social media. There is another kind, as I mentioned in my original statement above.

EDHGod1 karma

I understand your stance, but in my opinion, the philosophy gets muddled by the vehicle in which it's delivered. It's akin to proposing gun reform by using guns to force legislation through. That's why grassroots efforts exist. To circumvent the traditional means of message delivery.

To put it in relevant context, if I saw a Facebook post asking people to boycott Facebook, I would laugh at the irony, and then proceed to ignore the message.

Change probably won't happen in this manner, as the people who would hear the message are already keyed into the system, and those that wouldn't hear it probably aren't even using social media to the extent required to participate in said boycott.

LarrySanger2 karma

Nah, the analogy doesn't hold because we're not objecting to social media per se but to top-down control of silos of data by social media giants.

I don't oppose social media. I oppose centralized, authoritarian, unaccountable, undemocratic, closed social media.

In other words, in your gun analogy, the objection would not be to guns but to the centralization of the ownership/control of guns. But the gun analogy has other problems, so whatever.

iwishihadnicethings6 karma

A social media strike on a national holiday?

LarrySanger13 karma

Why not?

As someone wrote on my blog, it's Digital Independence Day.

Would you rather be using social media on a national holiday, or spending time with friends and family in person?

iwishihadnicethings4 karma

Tell that to my mother. But I see the point. I'll be doing neither as I have to work.

LarrySanger2 karma

Well, take the time to post on your social media accounts that you're on strike. Please use #SocialMediaStrike and link to https://larrysanger.org/2019/06/declaration-of-digital-independence/ and/or https://larrysanger.org/2019/06/social-media-strike/ ... and encourage your followers to strike, too!

TIA to you and to all who participate!

guyfaceddude3 karma

As someone who wasn't aware of the shady underworld of paid wikipedia expert editors that big corporations hire to destroy and smear people who stand up to them, I'm interested if this is something your technology would be able to protect against?

For reference: https://sharylattkisson.com/2019/06/the-weaponization-of-wikipedia/

LarrySanger3 karma

Are you referring to Everipedia, or to a system of decentralize social media? My answers would be very different.

guyfaceddude2 karma

I was mostly thinking of Everipedia, but also interested if you have a solution to the same problem in social media (although I think the solution would be different as it's a different mechanism of action).

I personally see social media as having an issue of being the scenes censorship / altering of algorithms to benefit corporations, along with bought and paid for accounts that push corporate propaganda to the front page disguised as user created content.

I see wikipedia issues as power admins being paid off lucratively to smear / destroy ideas or people that hurt corporate / powerful people's interest.

I might only see a small part of the issue though.

LarrySanger5 karma

In the case of Everipedia, we plan to create an article rating system that features one person, one vote. Then you can choose whose ratings to trust. You can also follow ratings of trusted organizations and categories, and discount ratings of distrusted ones. Ultimately we will have to adopt some such system.

On Everipedia.org, which will in time be only one of many wholly independent front ends to the decentralized Encyclopedia Network, we will consider very carefully which opinions to credit. But you won't have to use our selection.

NIQUARIOUS2 karma

Does wikipedia make money any money?

Is it being shut down?

LarrySanger4 karma

I'm long gone from Wikipedia, but I can answer your question. For example, here's their 2016-17 fundraising report (couldn't be bothered to find a more recent one). They're not lacking for cash.

No reason to think it's being shut down, of course.

hemlo862 karma

Why do I want my data? I have never once thought to my self “geez I wish I had my data right about now.”

LarrySanger7 karma

The fact that Facebook, Twitter, etc., act as exclusive administrators of the content you post to their data silos, and that you can't easily distribute it elsewhere according to a common standard (like the RSS blog standard), means they exert undue control over your content, and can monetize the hell out of it. You like that?

hemlo861 karma

So what your saying is that these big social media websites are making profit off my memes? That doesn’t sound that bad.

LarrySanger6 karma

No, that's not that bad, but that's not what I'm saying. It's not just your content, the offensive thing is that they profit from data about you without your explicit consent. And that's only one type of problem with the social media giants maintaining your data in giant walled gardens. See Declaration of Digital Independence and look at the enumeration of outrages. Here are the first ten:

They have practiced in-house moderation in keeping with their executives’ notions of what will maximize profit, rather than allowing moderation to be performed more democratically and by random members of the community.

They have banned, shadow-banned, throttled, and demonetized both users and content based on political considerations, exercising their enormous corporate power to influence elections globally.

They have adopted algorithms for user feeds that highlight the most controversial content, making civic discussion more emotional and irrational and making it possible for foreign powers to exercise an unmerited influence on elections globally.

They have required agreement to terms of service that are impossible for ordinary users to understand, and which are objectionably vague in ways that permit them to legally defend their exploitative practices.

They have marketed private data to advertisers in ways that no one would specifically assent to.

They have failed to provide clear ways to opt out of such marketing schemes.

They have subjected users to such terms and surveillance even when users pay them for products and services.

They have data-mined user content and behavior in sophisticated and disturbing ways, learning sometimes more about their users than their users know about themselves; they have profited from this hidden but personal information.

They have avoided using strong, end-to-end encryption when users have a right to expect total privacy, in order to retain access to user data.

They have amassed stunning quantities of user data while failing to follow sound information security practices, such as encryption; they have inadvertently or deliberately opened that data to both illegal attacks and government surveillance.

InfinityWatch922 karma

I cant believe people are forced to use these sites. If only we had a choice in the activities we do during our free time! /s

LarrySanger5 karma

Indeed, they're not forced, which is why our little revolution can be nonviolent. We can protest and then, if our protests fall on deaf ears, vote with our feet. That's precisely what I'm asking us all to do tomorrow and July 5.

hemlo861 karma

Yeah but I’m using there website, how else will they profit? And I’m sure somewhere on the site there is something saying that they can do this if you post on the site. I’m not saying it’s good but I’m just trying to be in the business point of view.

LarrySanger4 karma

They can still run ads on your content. You might still use Facebook or Twitter if you love the user experience.

I'm not trying to persuade Facebook and Twitter to change, though. I'm trying to persuade you to demand them to change and, if they refuse, to start moving to more decentralized alternatives.

DEV______3 karma

I think part of the argument is that no one knew when this social media machine first started churning just how valuable our data would be. It has become more of a commodity the more we became interconnected through social media. So even if you agree to it, like you say it's not a good thing that the 1% in silicon valley should reap the rewards for something no one knew was even valuable at the time.

LarrySanger1 karma

I think you're absolutely right. We really didn't. Back in, say, 2012, we thought the ability to market our data was just a little thing, something we'd grudgingly permit to keep these hip new businesses running. We wondered a little worriedly when and whether the likes of Facebook would ever become profitable.

Only the wisest heads (so, not me) knew from early on that we were headed for the disastrous situation we're in today.

NickelZach2 karma

Hey Larry, I'll start with a softball. What makes you think anyone cares about your dumb strike? I sure as hell don't

LarrySanger5 karma

Well, the fact that a week ago before any of the press coverage, about 1500 people said they'd join the strike in a Twitter poll says that quite a few people (within a few degrees of separation from me) care about it.

The fact that it's been covered by left- and right-wing media from all around the world makes me think so even more.

The biggest reason though is that whenever I describe the system articulated in the Declaration of Digital Independence, as I did at South by Southwest and in other venues, everybody absolutely loves it. Then when you suggest that we take a 1-2 day break on Independence Day, by golly, they love that too.

Of course, then there are just contrarian assholes who are never happy about anything.

C'mon, give me another softball!

NickelZach-2 karma

Okay for my next question. Since when was 1500 people out of the billions who use social media a lot? Did you ever think about that Larry? Did ya ya f*ckin goofball? Nuff said

LarrySanger5 karma

You still have to learn the maxim "nothing ventured, nothing gained." Nuff said.

NickelZach-1 karma

Nice edit Larry. You've exposed yourself. Luckily I got a screenshot I will most definitely be sharing around to show people how the leader of this irrelevant "strike" conducts himself when answering questions. Now for my tough question, the pill that's too jagged to swallow, why are you such a buttlicker?

LarrySanger5 karma

That requires no response. LOL

LarrySanger2 karma

Folks I'm off to dinner. I'll check back later and answer any remaining questions. Thanks for the engagement so far, I appreciate it.

Strike! Strike! Strike!

CaptainStack2 karma

Was your Declaration of Digital Independence and your general value of decentralized democratic self-governance influenced at all by anarchist ideologies like anarcho-syndicalism or libertarian-socialism?

LarrySanger7 karma

They were definitely influenced by libertarian, or classical liberal, political philosophies, which have slight affinities with those laughably incoherent left-wing ideologies.

The DoDI was, after all, modeled after the original Declaration of Independence.

CaptainStack2 karma

How related do you consider the goals of decentralization, privacy/encryption/security, and open source software?

LarrySanger7 karma

I love this question! I'll work on a longish answer right now. Just a sec.

What does decentralization mean? It means that control is spread out, preferably in the hands of individuals, or in any event in groups of individuals (so you should be able to find a group you get along with). But the nodes, whether individuals or groups, are interoperable; in other words, we can all talk to each other as equals with respect to the system as a whole.

If control rests, by contrast, in the hands of giant organizations (like corporations or governments), then in order to be able to exert that control, the information can't be encrypted. They can't control it unless it is readable to them. They want to be able to control it, moreover, because that gives them new profit streams, as well as the ability to advance political agendas.

But if your data is readable to them, it is readable to hackers who hack their systems. Hence any data they collect from you, or machine generate about you, is easy for the NSA, criminal hackers, and political operatives to get hold of.

Open source software is essential to convincing savvy technologists that encryption is actually going on when your data is at rest and also in transit. I would add also that regular (preferably surprise) audits are also necessary, especially for big corporations.

I hope this explains it reasonably well. I'm happy to elaborate on any point. It's very complicated. I think you the questioner are familiar with a lot of this stuff, and it's super-important, but most people won't get it just from reading what I've written. We really need to teach this stuff better to everyone.

MaKo19822 karma

What do you think of Wikipedia as a source for work in school/university or scholar work in general ? Was it made for that purpose?

LarrySanger9 karma

Wikipedia began life as a content feeder for a more straight-laced, traditional encyclopedia project called Nupedia. When Wikipedia took off and Nupedia failed to thrive, Nupedia was left to wither and die. So sure, it was sort of made for more serious scholarly purposes, but then it was allowed to evolve into something broader.

Today, on topics in STEM fields, it's an OK resource; I don't use it much in those topics (or in any topics, in recent years). But it's ridiculously biased and amateurish on most other topics. Don't get me wrong though. It's still useful, it's still enormous, it still has a lot of information on it that isn't worthless at all. But scholarly it is not.

DEV______2 karma

Answer as little or as much as you like for this question:

Do you think social media has been a net gain or a net loss on western society? Taking in to account the positives such as instant, global communication and the ability to find like-minded individuals, as well as the negatives e.g troll farms and anti-vax.

LarrySanger5 karma

Ooh, that's a hard one.

I'm going to have to pass on it. It depends on how social media evolves. If we continue on our current path toward total corporate and government surveillance and creeping totalitarianism, together with radicalized political groups at each others' throats, then I'm going to count it a net loss. But it could transform back into a force for freedom, innovation, and intellectual exchange, as the Internet of 1980-2005 was.

I think decentralizing social media would be a step in the right direction, which is why I'm rather passionate about making the #SocialMediaStrike as big a thing as possible.

DEV______2 karma

I consider myself pretty fortunate to have seen the direction Facebook and Twitter was headed about 5 years ago and noped the heck out of it.

I genuinely wish you success in this movement and I am all for people being in control of their data. If anyone should be profiting from analytics it's the people actually contributing to them and not the automated harvesters picking and sorting and spitting out a few graphs.

LarrySanger3 karma

Exactly. I agree. That's why it might turn out that the blockchain community produces the most viable standards under which a decentralized social media system is built.

whenisme1 karma

Despite being a hardcore fan of decentralisation, I think it's definitely positive overall, but a lot of its negative aspects are founded it centralisation.

LarrySanger1 karma

Maybe you could elaborate?

designer_farts2 karma

Is there currently a decentralized social media platform?

LarrySanger3 karma

It depends on how you define it, but I'll say sure. The best example perhaps is Mastodon. You can't link to "Mastodon itself" because it has many interconnected servers, which is what makes it decentralized, but the original one is mastodon.social. I haven't used my account there much, because not many of my friends there, which is one of the main reasons why I'm calling for this strike.

There are many more examples. Some more are listed above in my original post.

I'm not sure if there are any systems that meet all the features I'm asking for in the Declaration linked above. Sir Tim Berners-Lee has also worked on one. Maybe RT this to get his attention?

What I really want to see is a system that allows me to simply push my posts online, as I push new blog posts online, and people just start being able to interact with me via various more or less interchangeable "social media readers."

I don't think that exists, but it's the dream and I think we're on our way.

CaptainStack1 karma

I haven't used my account there much, because not many of my friends there, which is one of the main reasons why I'm calling for this strike.

Please start posting there more! As someone who recently joined Fosstodon.org, I'm trying my best to contribute to the community, but it really helps if I have interesting people and content to interact with while I'm there.

LarrySanger1 karma

I'll do better—I might well try to organize collective try-outs of Mastodon and other networks in the coming months.

I'd like to see what these systems are like "at scale" and with lots of my friends involved.

whenisme1 karma

Please do yeah. Should I boycot Reddit as well?

LarrySanger2 karma

That's a good question.

I'm going to leave that up to you.

I'm not really inclined to consider Reddit "social media" because it's not oriented around personalities and accounts so much as topics. But I can see a reasonable case being made.

I also haven't heard as many problems about Reddit in terms of free speech and privacy violations, but do set me right if I'm just uninformed.

Kaminolucky1 karma

Is there a list of social media to abandon?

I have some friends I would like to speak to on a daily basis. Discord shut down really makes it sad

LarrySanger1 karma

I don't want to pick winners and losers. I leave that up to you. I explicitly rule in Facebook and Twitter. YouTube seems like another obvious pick.

Generally, if the corporation behind a social network has been involved in selling your data, keeping your private data unencrypted so it can be mined and sold, limiting your UX options in favor of their profits, and/or increasingly imposing top-down control on political conversations for transparently ideological reasons, then I'd say they're fair game, especially if they're very big.

But if there's "as much and as good" in terms of alternative networks available, of roughly the same size that don't have such repressive policies, then probably leave them alone. They aren't anything like a monopoly in that case.

Kaminolucky2 karma

Has anyone told you, that your amazing at answering these?

LarrySanger1 karma

No, you'd be the first. Thank you though!

YogaDream1 karma

Problem: crazy people posting sick things inciting violence and crime against humanity.

Or do you mean they should be able to do that and these posts should stay up???

LarrySanger6 karma

I'm not sure which posts you're talking about.

Do you think we should not be able to own and control our own data, and decide who sees it? Well then, maybe you should support the current system, where your data remains safely in the hands of our corporate overlords who will "responsibly" manage it for years to come, where they'll be able to monetize information not just about your content but your use of the system, for their own profit.

Whether you like it or not.

Wisco18561 karma

Does this new architecture strip content control from Big Social Media so they no longer control what we can and cannot see? I'm getting pretty tired of the heavy internet censorship by large corporations.

LarrySanger5 karma

Yes, it would.

Say you're upset about your videos being demonetized. If videos are served from various servers around the net (and it's really easy to port them in common formats, using common protocols, to hosting elsewhere), then if YouTube opts to demonetize a video of yours, you'll be able to keep hold of all your subscribers (who are subscribed to [email protected], instead of [email protected]) and your upvotes, etc., and just move shop to a different service. YouTube can even feel free to just censor your video altogether, but nobody will care then: it will be easy to move and draw videos and users and upvotes all from a common pool, not controlled by YouTube in its top-down silo.

Say you really, really want to leave Facebook, but you don't want to leave your family and friends there. In a decentralized system, you would be subscribed to their family and friends directly, just as you subscribe to a certain set of blogs, rather than being subscribed to your-family-and-friends-at-Facebook. So maybe they wouldn't be able to see your posts on Facebook, because you don't have an account there. They'd be able to use a more inclusive social media reader where they would be able to read your stuff, and you'd be able to see their posts that appear on Facebook because they would control who can see it outside of Facebook.

nastynash2k1 karma

The moment I read decentralised internet, first thing in my mind is Silicon Valley show. If you have watched it, are you thinking in the same lines? If you haven't and it's a coincidence then you should definitely watch it

LarrySanger1 karma

I have not watched it, but now I know I'll have to!

mpeschel1 karma

I am curious: do you and your team have had anything to do with the worldwide malfunctions on Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram and Twitter, which take place since this afternoon?

LarrySanger5 karma

(a) I don't have a team associated with the social media strike. It's just me. I'm not building a social media network, I don't represent a social media organization. I'm just an irate customer.

(b) I have no idea why there are worldwide malfunctions on these services. I'm eager to read up on them but haven't had time.

thcslayer441 karma

Why Eos instead of Ethereum?

LarrySanger2 karma

EOS is faster.

Dan Larimer who designed Steemit, the first successful crypto content project, also designed EOS.

EOS is built for content.

EOS features proof of stake, which is appropriate for proposing edits to an encyclopedia.

wheasey1 karma

Do you have concerns about on chain governance in these early stages? My concern being that these projects are a long way off where they need to be to achieve their lofty goals. As such benevolent leadership is important early on.

I would really like to hear your thoughts though. Thank you.

LarrySanger1 karma

Yes. If we couldn't trust Dan Larimer on EOS and Sam Kazemian on Everipedia (he's really the blockchain lead of the company), then we'd be screwed. I think we can trust them. I trust them.

We have to walk before we can run. Yes, both EOS and Everipedia desperately need sound governance, basically constitutions, because important decisions affecting their whole networks are made by human beings rather than by algorithms. They're decentralized the way democracies are decentralized. So it's up to them to launch genuine democracies. For one thing, that's going to require one person, one vote—something I can assure that both Dan and Sam are committed to, because I've talked to them on that very issue. I'm committed to that, too. (It's very hard to operationalize on a blockchain, but the benefits of operationalizing it will be absolutely tremendous.)

If I ever became convinced that either EOS or Everipedia were going the way of authoritarian regimes and were not serious about transitioning to genuinely democratic and "decentralized" governance when all the smart contracts and human-readable documents needed for it were in place (or ready to go), then I'd bow out. I only participate in projects that I can ethically get behind, which is one reason I've steered clear of Silicon Valley, TBH.

thcslayer441 karma

Thanks for the response. If the eos project collapses, do you think you guys would port everipedia over to ethereum or a different platform?

LarrySanger2 karma

We've been having that discussion since 2017 when we first decided to build on EOS. So, sure, it's possible and we're willing to consider it.

epicmemer20111 karma

Where does the three dollars go?

LarrySanger5 karma

Uh...I'm not sure what you mean. You mean contributions to Wikipedia? I wouldn't know; I left the project a little over two years after starting the free encyclopedias Nupedia and then Wikipedia.

Maths_Is_Musical1 karma

What do you think are some promising fediverse platforms which we might not know about? Personally I'm excited about Lemmy, a decentralized reddit clone.

LarrySanger1 karma

I'm not going to endorse any particular platforms right now. That's not for me to say. As I like to say, I'm a cheerleader, not a leader of a new organization or kingmaker. I very specifically eschew any such role.

pseudonympholepsy1 karma

Dear Larry. Out of all the motivations found in typical volunteer work (something to put on the resume, community, possible altruism), what do you think is the primary factor driving people to give up their time for the creation of an online encyclopedia / other media? It seems like an absurd thing if you simply put it into words: "Hey, wanna go write an encyclopedia with me?" Nonetheless, it happened. I think much of the academic literature that has dealt with theorizing the motivations behind volunteer work falls short once the work is online. Imagine if we could come up with a proper framework for motivating humanity into productivity. Yes, let's herd the sheep.

LarrySanger2 karma

This is a difficult and deep question I've ruminated on a fair bit over the years, but I don't have any interesting theoretical or research framework to refer to.

My repeated observation of others and myself is that people get more engaged when they feel "seen" by other people. Social media became wildly popular when they started adding things like super-easy replies, upvotes, and shares. All of that is evidence that you're being seen, potentially understood. In the context of an encyclopedia, when someone edits your work, you naturally interpret it as a massive compliment. It's depressing to be left alone on a wiki. This is why small wikis rarely take off. They need enough people to be able to come together on pages and edit each others' work.

An underappreciated aspect of the work, however, is the declared aim of the project and how committed and serious the leaders seem about that aim, as opposed to other things such as their profit, self-interest, vanity, etc. Wikipedia took off because I was really really serious about the project of creating an encyclopedia, not a dictionary, or a collection of essays, or nutty opinionizing, or a "wiki" in the (then) usual sense. I led by example and others followed my lead. If I hadn't basically shown others what we were doing and that I was quite serious that it was what we were doing, they wouldn't have been nearly as engaged.

For other ideas, see a list I remember compiling on my Slashdot article about the early history of Nupedia and Wikipedia.

Drblackcobra1 karma

How do you feel as the co founder of wikipedia?Also thanks for your contributions to wikipedia! :)

LarrySanger2 karma

Conflicted. I guess I'm glad I helped bring it into the world, but I am not particularly proud of Wikipedia. Interestingly, my lovely wife, who observed from the sidelines from the very beginning, looks on it with great contempt, and I don't blame her. It could have been much, much better than it was. So I'm a bit of a perfectionist. I've been trying to improve on it ever since.

Warren-Binder1 karma

What's your favorite type of ice cream? Favorite color?

LarrySanger2 karma

Sounds like an attempt to gather data for a little social hacking. Pass. ;-)

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InfinityWatch920 karma

So instead of letting these free platforms use your data would you rather pay a monthly fee? Someone has to run these sites and they need money to do it so how do you propose we incentivise the next platform to become big without using your data?

LarrySanger1 karma

Maybe. I think our ISPs will probably start hosting our data for us, or maybe we'll pay other hosts. I might put my data on my NAS (personal home server) and then push it out to an aggregator (not Facebook, but a collector of social media data that Facebook and Twitter and the rest use). No doubt there will be plenty of free services, from which you can post various kinds of social media posts, and then select which services you want to push them onto (if not all), and those will be ad-supported.

Anyway, that's one vision. Another involves storing our data on one of many servers that are the nodes of the decentralized networks, rather than in portable individual user accounts/addresses.

geniice-1 karma

You haven't been meaningfuly involved with wikipedia since 2002 when bomis stopped paying you:

https://xtools.wmflabs.org/ec/en.wikipedia.org/Larry_Sanger

For how much longer do you plan to dine out on that involvement? To be clear I don't blame you (even philosophers need to eat) but the amount of times you've gone onto attack wikipedia is getting tiresome.

LarrySanger6 karma

I'm not sure even what the question means.
I started Wikipedia. It was my idea. The policies it still follows (or claims to follow) are, to a great extent, policies I articulated and initially enforced. Since then I've worked on a long string of educational and reference projects. I haven't exactly hidden any of this.

TBTop-1 karma

I saw you on TV, and correct me if I'm wrong but I think I heard you call for data-sharing among those platforms. That sounds like the precursor to a Chinese-style "social credit" system of coordinated censorship and social control. Why on earth should anyone go on strike in favor of that? Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Amazon are bad enough by themselves; why would they improve if they could ignore antitrust principles and act in concert?

Also, considering what a shitshow Wikipedia turned out to be -- useful for anodyne World Book Encyclopedia entries but wholly unreliable on any controversial topic, and banned as a source in universities throughout the world -- why should we be following your prescription for the Internet as a whole?

Finally, as a retired professional journalist and later financial professional, I learned very early to follow the money. What are your financial interests here? Not in a strike itself, but in the "reform" that you seek?

LarrySanger4 karma

Boy, that's quite a stretch.

The Internet involves data sharing. I think a good model for social media is the blogosphere, in which blog posts are freely shared; they can generally be reposted without asking permission, and aggregated in blog/news readers.

That's how social media should work. We just need to adopt common standards and social media reader apps, and get Minds, Mastodon, Gab, Diaspora, etc., all on the same page, publishing their users' posts according to those standards. Then we'll be able easily compile our old social media feeds and transfer the data elsewhere as needed. A system in which individuals are connected, instead of social media servers, would be not unlike the DNS system.

So, you were saying that this system would be "the precursor to a Chinese-style 'social credit' system"? Really?

Look, if I were Chinese, I wouldn't be on social media at all. That would scare the hell out of me. That's what happens in totalitarian societies. People just shut down because they can't trust. China is moving (back) in that direction.

Wikipedia did turn into a shitshow, I agree. I tried to stop it. If Jimmy Wales, who was CEO of the company that owned it, had taken my advice, maybe it would be in better shape today. But he didn't. I've been trying to improve on it (first with the quiet Citizendium, and now with the more lively Everipedia) ever since, by way of doing penance as it were.

In any event, I can say this: a truly decentralized system of social media would be built on open source software, and therefore definitely would have support for peer-to-peer, end-to-end encryption. The Chinese sure as hell won't like that. Neither, I hear, will Trump, or other big-government bureaucrats and politicians in France and the U.K.

TBTop1 karma

When I hear "break down the silos," would this not also involve the currently independent censors working for the major platforms? Today, if Facebook pulls some politically correct bullshit and bans me for 28 days, I have alternatives. Combine everything, and what's to prevent a unified censorship juggernaut against people and ideas disfavored by the "progressives" of Silicon Valley? All in our best interests, naturally. I try to be careful what I wish for.

Put it this way: Let's imagine a type of content widely disfavored. Today, that content can be posted all over the place. Some challenges in formatting it for each place, but the platforms don't have unified standards so it's not very easy to block it either. Would your "reform" not make it far easier to block disfavored content and the people who generate it?

LarrySanger2 karma

With all due respect, I don't think you understand the proposal. If it's possible for a "unified censorship juggernaut" to come into existence, then the system is ipso facto centralized, not decentralized.

This is why we do not have any sort of approval body for the DNS system. It couldn't be a worldwide system if there were. This is why you don't have to submit your blog to some authority that manages the blogosphere. Now, when there are well-understood "technical" problems that are network-wide, like spam, then common spam catchers software companies will start using blacklists published by people who might abuse their authority. But so far as I know, that's a strictly technical thing and not subject to political abuse.

What is more likely is that Facebook, Twitter, and the rest will produce and share their own blacklists for a new network, and ban people from their main offerings. But by then nobody will care, because you'll still be able to subscribe to your friends, even friends unpersoned by Facebook, because you'll be able to subscribe to their feeds directly. For unknown users who might be posting really nasty stuff, there could be all sorts of possibilities. Doubtless there would be competing groups publishing trusted lists of removed posts and banned people. You'd choose from among the groups, or get the whole enchilada if you wanted it.
Psst this is not far off from the plan a certain Big Social Media CEO told me about.

Head_Cockswain1 karma

I saw you on TV, and correct me if I'm wrong but I think I heard you call for data-sharing among those platforms.

We just need to adopt common standards and social media reader apps, and get Minds, Mastodon, Gab, Diaspora, etc., all on the same page, publishing their users' posts according to those standards.

I postulated an similar idea a while back along these lines, and I'll try to describe the vague concept here for whoever may be reading. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong or clarify a point. Also, it serves to share possible ideas to mull over.

Not so much sharing data as being able to be querried in a standard manner. The effect: If I subscribe to @Larry, it doesn't matter what platform or app I use, I get @Larry's posts in my feed.

ICQ and various other chat/messaging/etc applications did a similar thing back in the day(90s early 2000s), they could scrape from yahoo and other chat servers and messenger services, modern ICQ I believe can scrape info from Facebook for example.

In theory someone could build a thing to scrape everything, but that can more or less be done with social media now unless your privacy settings are locked up tight(EG visible to facebook friends only).

It could be done fairly securely as well. EVE online's(MMORPG) 3rd party software database access is managed with keys. You get a key that unlocks your full data for planning and builds in the software, and another that has limited information that you share with your guild/clan/etc.(to insure your claims about what you're trained in are accurate, iirc). This could allow for simultaneous posting to all platforms, for example.(Instead of using Facebook, twitter, gab, etc all in different manners for different things)

Think of it like a USB or HDMI standard(computer communication/display cables). It's the I/O that's standardized. This does not reveal industry secrets, such as internal components, it just ensures that various peripherals are going to be built to the same specifications and all be compatible.

LarrySanger2 karma

What Head_Cockswain said!