I happened across this piece in Austin Kleon’s newsletter. It beautifully expresses a sentiment that I’ve heard from many of us who were around when the web was first becoming widely available: a desire to return to a time when individuals could publish things and you found them by searching or by word of mouth, not because an algorithm pushed them into a feed. This is not not about comedy, but it’s about a lot more than comedy. It seems more social media sites are adopting algorithms like Facebook’s all the time.
Here’s how I’m responding:
1. Publishing primarily here at KimberlyHirsh.com. Several months ago now I began to explore the IndieWeb movement. I’m still not really doing it fully - not using replies or events yet, for example. But I’ve gotten started and finally found my groove with long posts, status updates, and link-sharing, at least.
2. Using Facebook almost exclusively for its group functionality. Sadly nobody else is doing this with as widespread adoption as Facebook. This is where most of my communities are congregating. But I’ve unfollowed all of my friends and liked pages. If I want to know how a friend who internets mainly via Facebook is doing, I go directly to their timeline.
3. Subscribing directly to content providers in other ways. If I want to see everything, I go with RSS for a full blog feed. If I want more curated content, I go with a newsletter. I use Gmail labels to keep all my newsletters together and deliberately choose when to review them.
4. Observing my own response as I browse social media. If I’m scrolling Twitter or Instagram and I start to feel sad, angry, or bored, I step away. This is more about self-care than defeating algorithms, but it feels related, somehow.
There are scholars doing interesting and important work on this. Here are a few to check out: