Fraidycat is a desktop app or browser extension for Firefox or Chrome. I use it to follow people (hundreds) on whatever platform they choose - Twitter, a blog, YouTube, even on a public TiddlyWiki.
There is no news feed. Rather than showing you a massive inbox of new posts to sort through, you see a list of recently active individuals. No one can noisily take over this page, since every follow has a summary that takes up a mere two lines.
You can certainly expand this 'line' to see a list of recent titles (or excerpts) from the individual - or click the name of the follow to read the individual on their network.
Jia Tolentino: The Age of Instagram Face (New Yorker)
How social media, FaceTune, and plastic surgery created a single, cyborgian look.
Then the celebrity doctor came in, giving off the intensity of a surgeon and the focus of a glassblower. I said to him, too, that I was just interested in looking better, and wanted to know what an expert would recommend. I showed him one of my filtered Snapchat photos. He glanced at it, nodded, and said, “Let me show you what we could do.” He took a photo of my face on his phone and projected it onto a TV screen on the wall. “I like to use FaceTune,” he said, tapping and dragging.
Within a few seconds, my face was shaped to match the Snapchat photo. He took another picture of me, in profile, and FaceTuned the chin again. I had a heart-shaped face, and visible cheekbones. All of this was achievable, he said, with chin filler, cheek filler, and perhaps an ultrasound procedure that would dissolve the fat in the lower half of my cheeks—or we could use Botox to paralyze and shrink my masseter muscles.
What did it mean, I wondered, that I have spent so much of my life attempting to perform well in circumstances where an unaltered female face is aberrant? How had I been changed by an era in which ordinary humans receive daily metrics that appear to quantify how our personalities and our physical selves are performing on the market? What was the logical end of this escalating back-and-forth between digital and physical improvement?
Meg Miller: A Software Engineer’s Advice for Saving Social Media? Keep It Small (AIGA Eye on Design)
Darius Kazemi believes social networks should be run like small communities rather than massive businesses
After speaking at a conference recently, Kazemi was approached by a group of Twitter designers who asked him how they could apply his principles to the platform. He said he didn’t think it was possible. “As long as [big social media companies] are operating in the same way—harvesting eyeballs, working on advertising revenue, and needing venture capital investment—I don’t have a lot of advice for them,” he says. What Kazemi’s proposing is something structurally different than how social media giants operate. They can scramble to change their privacy policies and try to combat hate speech, but really, they’re just too big. “I feel like they’re doing what they can at this point, but they’re almost at a dead end,” he says.
yap is an ephemeral, real-time chat room with up to six participants. your messages appear and disappear as quickly as you type them, which means unless you pay attention to what everyone says (for once), you’ll miss it. after creating a room, you can embed a piece of media (a video, a website, or something else) for your group to discuss or just shoot the sh*t.
Adi Robertson: How to fight lies, tricks, and chaos online (The Verge)
In advance of the 2020 election, a guide to fighting viral fake news, disinformation, and simple misunderstandings across Twitter, Facebook, and the web.
There’s a term called “context collapse” that’s very useful when discussing internet news. Popularized by scholar danah boyd, it describes how the internet “flattens multiple audiences into one” — if you’re browsing Twitter, for example, an offhand comment from your friend sits right alongside a statement from the president of the United States. Internet news suffers from its own variation of context collapse: no matter how far away or long ago a story happened, it can sound like it’s happening right now, in your neighborhood.
Annalee Newitz: A Better Internet Is Waiting for Us (NYT)
We don’t have to lose our digital public spaces to state manipulation. What if future companies designed media to facilitate democracy right from the beginning? Is it possible to create a form of digital communication that promotes consensus-building and civil debate, rather than divisiveness and conspiracy theories?
Twitter and Facebook executives often say that their services are modeled on a “public square.” But the public square is more like 1970s network television, where one person at a time addresses the masses. On social media, the “square” is more like millions of karaoke boxes running in parallel, where groups of people are singing lyrics that none of the other boxes can hear. And many members of the “public” are actually artificial beings controlled by hidden individuals or organizations.
There isn’t a decent real-world analogue for social media, and that makes it difficult for users to understand where public information is coming from, and where their personal information is going.
The legacy of social media will be a world thirsty for new kinds of public experiences. To rebuild the public sphere, we’ll need to use what we’ve learned from billion-dollar social experiments like Facebook, and marginalized communities like Black Twitter. We’ll have to carve out genuinely private spaces too, curated by people we know and trust.
Robin Sloan: Thread by robin on Rosegarden, archived six hours ago
What we hear from companies like T and F and Y is that monitoring communication at this scale, preventing that harm, is an unprecedented technical challenge.
That’s correct. However… no one asked for communication at this scale!
To be clear, it’s a challenge these companies designed for themselves; a challenge they enlarged through relentless, ingenious growth; a challenge they now invoke as if it’s some longstanding problem in fundamental physics.
Social media platforms should run small, and slow, and cool to the touch.
Who among us hasn’t logged into Twitter only to find friends one-upping each other with meta-meta-meta-ironic jokes about something that happened five minutes ago, and no longer is anyone actually mentioning the thing they’re joking about? Who among us has not followed someone because of a really excellent viral photo or tweet, and then hundreds of posts later it’s like Oh my God, stop talking about your cat, or your car, or your loneliness?
Doreen St. Felix: How Corporations Profit from Black Teens' Viral Content (The Fader)
As prolific and internet-known as Meechie and his crew are, they are multiple steps removed from owning, in a tangible sense, their art, leaving them vulnerable to both YouTube’s whims and to having their creativity lifted by outsiders. Atlanta, where Meechie is from, is legendary as a place where teens generate culture, and then go uncompensated as their style and tastes are usurped by a corporate machine hungry for Black Cool. Cultural sharing is ancient. That the speed and relative borderlessness of the internet makes cross-platform, global dissemination seem like a consequence of tech is a convenient amnesia. The propensity to share predates the young black creators doing so online. But they ought to claim lineage. Remember, for instance, the blues.
Part of the reason the originators of viral content are stripped from their labor is because they don’t technically own their production. Twitter does, Vine does, Snapchat does, and the list goes on. Intangible things like slang and styles of dance are not considered valuable, except when they’re produced by large entities willing and able to invest in trademarking them.
Nathan Jurgenson: Temporary Social Media (Snapchat Blog)
Am I fetishizing the ephemeral, the present, the current moment? To a degree, yes. Social media is young, and I hope it grows out of this assumed permanence of our data. A corrective, an injection of ephemerality, is badly needed and overdue. The present doesn’t always need to be owned, held still and fixed; sometimes it might be best left alone to simply be what it is, letting more moments pass not undocumented and unshared, but just without enforced documentary boxes and categories with corresponding metrics filed away in growing databases. Instead, temporary social media treats the present as less like something that aspires to be curated into a museum but as something that can be unknown, unclassified, not put to work.
Rob Horning: Google Alert for the Soul (The New Inquiry)
“Becoming oneself” has turned into a crappy job — a compulsory low-paying, low-skill job. The promise of modernity, that we might escape the contingent circumstances of our birth and become who we “really are,” has become an injunction to continually work on the self with no hope of ever fully knowing ourselves or feeling fully recognized.
clever title tba • Why I almost defriended everyone who had an HRC logo as their profile photo this week
Listen, either you know nothing about the HRC and you posted the photo without bothering to ask any questions about what actual cause you were supporting: disturbing. Or you actually do know about the HRC, and its policies, and you posted the photo anyway: more disturbing. Either way, the net effect is the same: the alignment between the HRC and the “gay rights” movement is solidified, attention and funding is directed towards the HRC and away from organizations that actually support coalitional politics, and yes, one more step is taken—away from the possibility of actual social change for those populations (undocumented immigrants, transgendered youth, the thousands of black and Latino men targeted daily by the prison industrial complex, for instance) that are actually in material need.
FOMO is ‘Fear of Missing Out’ and it’s a major problem on the internet.
“There is a company that sells radar equipment to the police as well as radar detectors to the public. Clorox is one of the world’s worst polluters of water, and also sells Brita filters to get the bad stuff out of the water again. Lawyers create mazes that you have to hire a lawyer to escape. Similarly social software both creates and cures FOMO. If you didn’t know that party was going on, you’d be home contentedly reading your latest New Yorker. But since you do, you hungrily watch each new tweet.”