Personal Expression and Decentralization

I found this community via a mention on SSB. I work in academic technology and am concerned that large capitalist platforms both favor consumption over creation and provide a lever by which global computer networks are becoming a frightening instrument of control. I wish I could do more, but I lack both the coding skills to build the tools I think the world needs and the salesmanship to convince anyone that they are important, but I’m sure there must be a better way than what we have.

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For a bit of a fresh perspective, it just occurred to me that both of these problems are not problems with just the current Internet but with pretty much everything in Western (and Westernized) societies. Everything is unhealthy and has been used as an instrument of control in the interest of corporate profits and state profits (i.e. tax revenue via GDP growth). Examples include:

  • the industrialized food system, which includes massive advertising for unhealthy eatable stuff, heavily processed an addictive food, industrially grown “organic” products, commercialized “fair trade” products with hollow promises and branded basic food items (which did not exist until the 1920s / 1930s)

  • the waste management system, with contracts setting the incentives against political measures for trash reduction, as the promise a certain amount of (profitable) trash to the collection companies … which then use the plastic for example like free fuel and just burn it in power stations to profit from the electricity (I know this in detail from a certain medium-sized city over here …)

  • delusional advertising on for-profit TV stations … while this was a point of discourse in the late 90s here in Germany, now everyone has just become used to it

  • the housing market, which has in many places morphed from a market to fulfill the basic need of accommodation to a market to fulfill the desire of investors and landlords for ROI / profits

  • … and there is of course more, you name it

That’s just to illustrate: the Internet is going the only way that has been prepared for it by an industrial, oligopolist, capital-intensive, consumption-driven economic system. It’s not the Internet’s fault, it’s about bigger forces that now control the Internet as well. And my guess is that we won’t get rid of the issue without a major overhaul (or breakdown) of capitalism itself …

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This is a profound intuition… though one that is not necessarily super-actionable. It would be great to find low-hanging fruits of things that can be done here and now, without invoking systemic change. I am not necessarily against systemic change, but it can take a very long time!

Sure, we’ll get to the actionable items in a short while :slight_smile:

I just think that there is also value in attempting a “purely academic” understanding of the situation first. Because whether one thinks “everything is quite alright and just Internet governance is messed up right now” or “everything is perverted by a drive for profit, and that includes the Internet” will inform what actionable items to choose.

For example: in the first case one might try to utilize state institutions to improve Internet governance, while in the second case one might rather focus on P2P / decentralized new infrastructures because one would see state institutions as the supporters and enablers of the profit-driven takeover of all areas of life for decades now, with little hope for a fast systemic change.

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I agree that the internet’s problem is fully analogous to today’s unchecked capitalism (emphasis on unchecked). Both are on winner-take-all tracks that I think are proving to be ruinous.

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Oh, absolutely agree. Le’t say that, as the broken/corrupt quota of the system increases, the list of actionable stuff gets shortened towards an empty set.