Curating for yourself, curating with others

Replied to The Memex Method – Cory Doctorow – Medium by Cory Doctorow (Medium)

Clay Shirky has described the process of reading blogs as the inverse of reading traditional sources of news and opinion. In the traditional world, an editor selects (from among pitches from writers for things that might interest a readership), and then publishes (the selected pieces).

But for blog readers, the process is inverted: bloggers publish (everything that seems significant to them) and then readers select (which of those publications are worthy of their interests)

I much prefer following people to publications, and curating for myself what’s interesting out of what those people have curated for themselves. There’s a good bit of noise, but there’s also a lot of serendipity — neat things I would never have encountered on my own, that I wouldn’t have thought to investigate.

While news publications focus on appearing neutral, people (bloggers and newsletterers) have opinions and share context often missing from news articles. I *want* others’ opinions, especially from people who are better informed than I am. I’m interested in news and information as it relates to people, not as discrete incidents. I care more about the trends and the roots of an event, which are all too often left out of the news. Individuals are publishing from a rich, deep, broad perspective in a way publications cannot have, the same way corporations and brands are not people (no matter how they exploit their social media managers).

See also:

Article pairing: stop reading the news

Overlapping Communities, “Curated” Discovery between Real People

Finding Personal Websites

Algorithmic recommendations create “curiosity ruts”



(More from the same Doctorow piece.)

Activism Learning Society The Internet

Destroying a public good

Replied to Twitter is dying by Natasha LomasNatasha Lomas (

However if the point is simply pure destruction — building a chaos machine by removing a source of valuable information from our connected world, where groups of all stripes could communicate and organize, and replacing that with a place of parody that rewards insincerity, time-wasting and the worst forms of communication in order to degrade the better half — then he’s done a remarkable job in very short order. Truly it’s an amazing act of demolition. But, well, $44 billion can buy you a lot of wrecking balls.

That our system allows wealth to be turned into a weapon to nuke things of broad societal value is one hard lesson we should take away from the wreckage of downed turquoise feathers.

Society isn’t equipped to prevent the willful destruction of things that give power to the masses by the elites who wish to uphold the status quo.

Musk buying Twitter (with Saudi financing 😒) to drive out the libs and boost the incels is like LJ when it was taken over by the Russians to drive out the gays. The site may continue to exist, but any value it once had to society has been destroyed. Twitter will surely use the vestiges of its former power to do harm too.

Authoritarians and the wealthy will always use every tool at their disposal to suppress free speech by the masses, because it benefits us far more than it does them.

Science Society

Twitter influences the outcomes of disasters


Using Twitter for crisis communications in a natural disaster: Hurricane Harvey — Vera-Burgos & Padgett, 2020

See also: What happens to activism after Twitter?


What happens to activism after Twitter?


For all its failings, one space where Twitter has excelled is empowering activism: calling out injustice, community organizing, and on-the-ground reporting from dozens of protests at once. Conservatives bitch about their fascist tweets getting deleted and “misinformation” because they can’t tell you about “the ivermectin cure,” but what actually seems to be censored and misrepresented in mainstream press is disruptions to power: protesters are painted as looters, police spray children with tear gas at nonviolent protests, journalists get black-bagged and shot despite their press badges. I watched all this happening from afar in BLM protests around the country – these three particular instances were in Bellevue, Seattle and Portland. And the “terrifying” Capital Hill Autonomous Zone or whatever they called themselves planted a community garden in a public park — oh the atrocity! 😱 I could read and see accounts from multiple people at various protests, photos and videos from multiple angles, and read accounts from journalists at protests, and real community members could dispel fear mongering and scapegoating.

If Twitter collapses, where do we go for that kind of information?

If we didn’t have Twitter, would any of us have heard about George Floyd or Breonna Taylor?

Activism has adapted to make use of online platforms and advocate to a larger audience. I haven’t been going to protests in person, so I don’t know how essential that link is.

If Twitter collapses, what happens to the women of Iran right now?

Can federated / distributed spaces allow the kind of real-time information spread that has made Twitter invaluable for activism?

Mastodon only searches hashtags within your (an?) instance from my understanding. You need to already know who to follow or be in an instance where people are sharing that kind of information.

(☝️ I do not know this to be true first-hand but wouldn’t be surprised given the model)

And the IndieWeb already struggles with discoverability.

I don’t think TikTok can serve the same function — too easy in their algorithmic model to keep anything from spreading, and video is so much slower to produce and consume than text that you can’t follow as many separate accounts to get an understanding of what’s happening.

Facebook gave us genocide in Myanmar. They’re not going to be a help here. Instagram doesn’t seem built in a way that’s easy to follow trending topics. Their ephemeral posts (stories) aren’t easy to find or follow. I haven’t used it lately so I don’t know how Reels work.


Following politics on social media

Replied to Most people on Twitter don’t live in political echo chambers — but mostly because they don’t care enough to bother building one (Nieman Lab)

“The elite discussion on the platform is important, but it is not necessarily observed directly by the masses.”

Of those 2,600-plus “elites,” the vast majority are journalists, pundits, or news organizations…

If you’re not following at least one of those accounts, your Twitter use is likely bereft of news, not just political news.

🤔 They clearly don’t follow a lot of artists, writers, activists or academics if they think you see no news or politics without expressly following news accounts. I saw just one person I follow on the list but would not characterize my feed as apolitical 😂 Authors have been extremely vocal about reproductive rights and politically motivated book bans. Queer and disabled people call out problems constantly.

In our case, 59.6% of a random sample of users (856,853 of 1,437,774) were insufficiently politically interested to follow the accounts of the president, key senators, or major news media organizations.

I’m not sure you can draw the conclusion someone isn’t interested in politics because they don’t follow national level politicians or large news organizations on social media. For example, I’m more interested in local, county, and state level happenings than national policies totally beyond my influence, so I follow local policy advocates to learn about housing issues and bike infrastructure in my community. I can’t imagine I’m the only one who’s turned my attention and energy away from the national level, to my community.

Another facet is feeling unrepresented by politics at a national level. The national Democratic party is filled with old, out of touch, ineffective and spineless naifs who will fiddle us into fascism while conservatives chortle. I have little patience for moderate Democrats who are afraid to piss off racists, sexists, fascists, and homophobes. I’d wager many other progressives are likewise fed up.

I also think it’s not unreasonable that people might choose to use social media for entertainment and get their news and politics elsewhere.

Moreover, while they call this finding bleak, I’m not sure it’s such a bad thing to be disconnected from the ugliness of political spin. Frankly I consider politicians to be a terrible source for political information. The two major parties have become so antagonistic, it seems that every single thing the other side does must be condemned, even if it’s helping supply infant formula during a shortage 🤦‍♀️ (That certainly dragged the idiot politicians and pundits who have never talked to a mother in their life out of the woodwork 👀 I don’t have kids and I know that not all babies latch! Among the many other reasons “just breastfeed” isn’t a valid response.) The news often becomes an elitist form of entertainment that doesn’t necessarily inform action, but spurs hopelessness or anxiety.

Somehow it’s this minority of people that do follow politicians and news organizations who are driving the vast majority of the nasty political discourse on Twitter? If so, they’re doing enough damage to our political division as it is. We hardly need to feed more people with The Discourse of the day.

Activism Political Commentary Society

The news is a drag

Liked I have a secret. I hid it for years. by Amanda Ripley (Unraveled)

Even when things get better, when Covid cases plummet, when Congress actually acts, when a police department get reformed, when greenhouse gases get cut… the framing of the news doesn’t change. It remains the same: Vibrating with anxiety, reflexively disappointed, rarely delighted.

It’s like that friend you have — who always sees the worst in everything. You go out for coffee and feel empty afterward. Finally, you stop going.

I like this comparison — that the news is that person who’s always a drag.

So what would be better? In the essay, I make the case for routinely and systematically reporting out Hope, Agency and Dignity in every story.

Hope and agency for sure; right now the news feels disempowering and hope-draining — and that it’s intended to! The publisher’s goal is the clickbait headline, which often preys on your fears or manipulates you through your sense of identity — but in being so endlessly negative they support the fascists who want you to give up on social justice because there’s no hope, they back the corporations who want you to give up on climate change because there’s no hope, and they further divisions by turning you against the outgroup — whoever isn’t like you.

We need to see signs of agency and hope so we will risk action even when the stakes are high — especially when those in danger are someone unlike us.

See also: don’t read the news

Learning Mental Health Society

Article pairing: stop reading the news

No News Is Good News – Thomas Bevan, Commonplace Newsletter

People claim that they consume the news- and this used to be my reasoning too- because they argue that it is both a good thing and in fact a duty to be informed about the world at large.  But this belief- and it is at root an article of faith- doesn’t hold up to real scrutiny.

The news is the opposite of understanding because understanding is a question of seeing processes and trends.

The Media Timescale Edition: On the structure of news, pace layers, and the fifty-year newspaper – Noah Brier, Why Is This Interesting

In a classic essay from 1965, Johan Galtung analyzed the structure of news. He argued that the frequency with which outlets publish — daily, and now instantly — limits their ability to cover long-term positive trends. Imagine if newspapers did not come out every day but instead once every half-century.

— Max Roser, Stop Saying 2016 Was the Worst Year

Future Building Resources and Reference

International independent reporting

Bookmarked Global Voices · Citizen media stories from around the world (Global Voices)

Global Voices is an international, multilingual community of writers, translators, academics, and digital rights activists.