Social media platforms aren't serving us well. To the degree that we live online, the very substance of our lives is constrained by the features, presentation, and rules that these platforms choose to provide. We need tools that we can better map to both the expression and goals of life.
One feed per user per app is an insufficient model. We are complex and multifaceted, and reckoning with that requires more than just controlling who can see which posts. We shouldn't have to fragment ourselves across a series of apps, accounts, and profiles.
We need our own personal archives and libraries as much as we need our sharing channels. So much of the material of our lives is digital, but we're missing out on the digital equivalent of our journals, our stacks of letters, and our recipe collections. Because of that, we're missing out on important types of reflection, and we're missing things we used to pass down through our families.
We need simpler building blocks. We can't—and shouldn't—build clones of multi-billion dollar platforms using tools optimized for teams of full time, professional software developers. We need a different way to build what we need, an approach that's compatible with hobbyist-level skills and time, and that can meet community and individual needs without requiring capital or fitting into market logic.
We can achieve this. Not by imagining and striving for some kind of blank slate utopia, but by building creatively with the pieces the world already has for us, by choosing approaches that align with our goals and values, and by valuing approaches, patterns, and protocols over particular platforms or code.
And yes, some of the tools from our digital past solved or avoided some of these problems. Some of us used to have our own websites, and our own blogs and RSS feeds. The world has moved on, though, and we can't solve the problems and needs of today with nostalgia alone.
So what do we do?Approach →