Future Building

We Need Public Spaces Online

Replied to To Mend a Broken Internet, Create Online Parks by Eli Pariser (WIRED)
We need public spaces, built in the spirit of Walt Whitman, that allow us to gather, communicate, and share in something bigger than ourselves.

To Mend a Broken Internet, Create Online Parks in Wired by Eli Pariser

What would an online park look like?

I could see an online space with different rooms you can interact with in different ways, like chat rooms and message boards you can join in conversation.

You could let users indicate when they join that they’re open to connecting and could have like a double opt in (hot or not style swiping on profiles, and ability to rate or flag other users who are problematic).

There could also be some geographic limitations, whether the whole “park” or just certain areas that might be IP based (yeah you can spoof it but most people wouldn’t). Reminds me of that decentralized social network Scuttlebutt that only syncs when you come in physical proximity to other users.

I think there’s also a value to public spaces of sharing art and political speech temporarily, like hanging up a poster. Could have a fun community angle where all the art is only up for a week to start but people who want to keep it around could pitch in a buck or two a day to license it, with the money going to the artist (or donated to charity or paying for server upkeep).

I feel like space itself, interacting with it and moving through it, is a valuable aspect of parks and public spaces that could be interesting to replicate in a virtual format. A lot of public spaces are designed spaces, and I think there could be some cool partnerships with designers and artists and creative people to create spaces that prompt a certain type of interaction or thinking (prompts or visuals). I’m reminded of Meow Wolf.

To keep it a safe space you can either have verified users or paid users. Paying even a dollar for membership would deter a lot of bad actors. You could let the community pay it forward by covering memberships for students and those who can’t afford it for greater inclusivity but those members not paying their own way would have a one strike and you’re out policy for bad action to prevent abuse.

Hmm, did I just reinvent Minecraft?