Antoine-Frédéric
@af@playground.bonfire.cafe
Hi there! My name's Antoine-Frédéric, I'm a sociology student writing about social media and how the web's enabling FAANG at unbon.cafe/afr.
@baslow I wasn’t focused (it seems corelated to me using Bonfire) but I’m reading the article and these two sentences are interesting (emphasis mine):


The champions of debunking and the new information vigilantes are not interested in entertaining the possibility that the root cause of conspiracy theories may be located outside the mind and may require a reexamination of our economic and social arrangements. For them, the world is fine as it is; it is all a matter of bringing people in alignment with a reality which they fail to appreciate.


But what I’m trying to pinpoint is that the root causes for mental illness may be located outside the mind as well. Education, architecture, the structure of media… (Rather than the media contents themselves: from Twitter to RSS feeds to Gemini to the town library.)

@baslow It doesn’t mean any of you all would be a naive developer with a tragic lack in humanities literacy, but… I’ve found myself arguing against letting users opt in for a dispositive of power which is only useful for capitalists, in a way that abuses their users (infinite scrolling). Eugen Rochko himself probably doesn’t understand why Fediverse users call him names under most of what he publishes.


I’m afraid I’ve been off-putting, but I’ve had an extensive experience with capitalistic social media, and I’d like to have a deeper conversation because I don’t want to mansplain any of you but I still want to warn you about things that I haven’t read elsewhere.

@baslow For example the dude who’s created the "like" button didn’t think it would be used to harm people, similarly for the people who correlate how profitable a user is with the cognitive resources they consume. Twitter didn’t have a characters limit to degrade cognitive resources but because it was meant to be sent within 160-characters SMS; however it’s more commercially successful than Tumblr, because of this. Apparently innocuous work by well-intended developers who would refuse to work on the larger model I’m trying to understand.
@baslow What I mean here of course is that by degrading culturally cognitive resources so much, they offer an excellent territory for hostile disinformation agencies. And as you can see in your TL, I think Mastodon does too; even if Trump didn’t think about all of this, (maybe he was just looking for a successful Twitter clone?), he found in Mastodon, rather than XMPP, Telegram, or even Matrix, the tool he needed to spread lies and deceive/abuse his followers.
@baslow To put it as briefly as possible, capitalistic social media have offered an excellent territory for hostile disinformation agencies for years, and will keep doing so until they’re dismantled (or bankrupt).


On one hand, the sociological tradition of the University of Chicago is mostly qualitative (interview, field research), rejecting statistics, which offers an excellent complement to the intensive quantitative data capitalistic social media get on their users. On the other hand, I’m not even sure they’d need to read Goffman; they could just correlate how profitable a user is with how many times they click on links, or on the "show more" button, or watch videos, per hour, and draw their own conclusions (links are bad, long posts are bad, videos are bad), without even developing a general correlation between cognitive resources and Goffman’s total institutions.

I’d love to try the IndieWeb, but I’m currently trying to post Gemini content, exported to the web via kiln, and hosted on openbsd.amsterdam with vger, a read-only server. It could make sense to let the web frontend load replies; IIRC a French libre software blogger had forked the Hugo Archie theme to load Mastodon replies as comments; but I haven’t made a first-hand experience with the IndieWeb.


Most of what I think of social media is defined by its capitalistic model, that Mastodon is borrowing anyway (the fact that Trump uses its code base should be a red flag). In particular: yes, I’ve spent the last few hours waiting for notifications, but what I’ve found this last month stems from the deprecation of cognitive resources and the scarcity of attention. The Bonfire project keeps challenging my assumptions on social media, the way Diaspora* has swiped them (but I tend to remove it from my thoughts on this topic).


Maybe few social media have actually been innovative enough to dodge a capitalistic communications model. I mean, the software license isn’t enough to make it a common; I’m obviously referring to the Mastodon governance… but also to the Element client, which implements an obscenely complex norms and which is too costly to implement to be considered as a common IMHO.

There’s a French-speaking left-wing memes group on Facebook which is called "Ghibliposting" and I really want to re-create it as a topic, but I don’t want to commit to anything on social media… (Also where’s my Foucault book)
I haven’t read Goffman yet, but I feel like the deprecation of cognitive resources – URLs, explicit (on Twitter) or implicit (and punitive) post shortening on Facebook, e.g. text in stories being smaller and less "shareable" as it becomes longer, the Facebook pages composer loading more and more the tab as the text goes longer, until it crashes – is directly related to Facebook groups, and Twitter clusters, turning into total institutions.


Deprived of cognitive resources, all that remains to agonistic politics clusters on Twitter is a sort of rage that turns into a desperate attempt to oppress either minorities (which works) or oppressors (which doesn’t work, as "reversed oppression" can’t exist). An example of that is the appropriation on these capitalistic crowd media of the expression "men are trash", which seems to only shock men as being disabled, or abused (at home, at school, etc.), or people of color in a racist school system, or questioning their gender and maybe being actually women or non-binary, but re-assigned by this expression to their gender assignation whenever they feel mediocre. I see members of a specific "red" Facebook memes group spending a lot more of energy into shaming other fractions (trotskyists, anarchists, members of such political party or such union) than into sharing cognitive resources or being funny about oppressors.

Let’s talk quickly about the term ’microblog’.


For ’microbloggers’, publishing and thinking for clout, the term implies that a worthy blog post should be longer. In Mastodon/Pleroma interactions, length in itself can be perceived as an authority argument.


Now the usual microblogging mechanisms are the following:


  1. Built-in following/followers mechanism,
  2. clout-related notifications (favs/click-shares/followings), and
  3. a sort of interdependant federation mechanism (whether centralized or through a protocol).


Emphasis on the word ’interdependant’: the federation mechanisms are meant to create loose fabrics of mutual dependance, that depend themselves on their federation mechanisms. There will always be switching costs with ’microblogging’ services, that will be higher for the most abused, disabled, isolated, dependant, vulnerable people.


I’ll try to get a French research lab in touch with the Bonfire developers instead of pouring this pessimism of discutable quality 😅