The Timeline is the Problem

/ San Francisco, California

Sloan, in a post about his Spring ‘83 protocol/social network experiment, noted how it feels to be on the web right now:

You feel it, don’t you? They’re all crumbling, the platforms of the last decade. It’s unsettling, but/and also undeniably exciting. Tall trees fall in the forest, and light streams in, nourishing places it hasn’t reached in ages.

But we, as users of the global internet, cannot just ride the same rollercoaster again. It’s too embarrassing to be trapped inside these hungry corporate gambits, these dumb proper nouns. The nouns and verbs of our online relationships should be lowercase, the way “magazine” is lowercase, the way “movie” is lowercase. Anybody can make a movie. Anybody can try.

This is exciting! We should not see the web as “complete”! But also I am a tiny bit sad!

I left Twitter the other day, this time for good and it was a simple enough decision: this party sucks and it’s sucked for a while, let’s get outta here. But the party gave me everything! My first writing gig, my friends, my first real gig, my home here in SF. Maybe I’m giving too much credit to the platform (where I should be giving credit to the people on that platform), and maybe I’m seeing it all through blue-rose-tinted glasses, but that lil community of folks changed everything for me.

I wrote something the other day for the book that applies to both fonts and this fresh potential for a better web/platform/protocol that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it:

...you can’t help but get this odd, excitable feeling now: the feeling of adventure, of punk rock graphic design, of frontiers yet seen.

I should keep that in mind that although it might be sad that we’ve lost this platform to pure goonery, there is this potential for a new protocol, a new platform, a whole new thing. But—caution!—Sloan reminds us to be careful with this line of thinking:

[...] The opportunity before us, as investigators and experimenters in the 2020s, isn’t to make Twitter or Tumblr or Instagram again, just “in a better way” this time. Repeating myself from above: a decentralized or federated timeline is still a timeline, and for me, the timeline is the problem.




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