If life without Facebook conversations is impossible...


We have to look for solutions in the right directions.

If life without Facebook conversations is impossible... /img/love-without-conversation-is-impossible.jpg

Eleanor Saitta has vehemently attacked Facebook because they “just decided you’re no longer allowed to have chronological conversations - all conversations will be arbitrarily re-ordered.”

In practice, this would mean that Facebook:

  • just started reordering individual comments on posts, even on subthreads, at least in groups and [maybe] also sometimes on walls
  • [in order to, argues Saitta] optimize for high volume meme-sharing groups over small community groups

Saitta is enraged because this is:

  • bad for rational human community
  • a direct attack to the ability to have coherent conversations among ourselves “literal evil in the purest sense, intentionally wrecking the social fabric”

OK. What then?

I basically agree with Saitta. The result of making conversations hard in order to optimize engagement does not just “make love impossible” as that quote from Adler says. It is to weaken public rationality and ability to deliberate.

This said, as far as I am concerned, if Facebook (using Saitta’s words, again) “just rewrote conversations” for greed, we deserve it, for ignoring what I consider the two most important parts of that thread. One is the acknowledgment that current Free Software competitors have, to be mild, very little chance to succeed:

“The free software social network projects are lovely, but nothing I’ve seen has had anyone who understands humans in the design loop - we’re ok at 1:1 messengers only.” (me: notice how Facebook doubled its users since those projects started).

The other is listing, as first regulatory fix that would actually work, “mandating adversarial interoperability for large systems”.

My own proposals on both points are here and here. Feedback is extremely welcome, of course.

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