A decentralized standard for social media?

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey wants to create “an open and decentralized standard” for social media that his very own platform will follow. To this end, he decided to gather a team of programmers, engineers, and designers to work on a new project called “Bluesky.” The details in the connected tweets below!

Twitter Decentralized Social Media


Twitter is funding a small independent team of up to five open source architects, engineers, and designers to develop an open and decentralized standard for social media. The goal is for Twitter to ultimately be a client of this standard. 🧵

Twitter was so open early on that many saw its potential to be a decentralized internet standard, like SMTP (email protocol). For a variety of reasons, all reasonable at the time, we took a different path and increasingly centralized Twitter. But a lot’s changed over the years…

First, we’re facing entirely new challenges centralized solutions are struggling to meet. For instance, centralized enforcement of global policy to address abuse and misleading information is unlikely to scale over the long-term without placing far too much burden on people.

Second, the value of social media is shifting away from content hosting and removal, and towards recommendation algorithms directing one’s attention. Unfortunately, these algorithms are typically proprietary, and one can’t choose or build alternatives. Yet.

Third, existing social media incentives frequently lead to attention being focused on content and conversation that sparks controversy and outrage, rather than conversation which informs and promotes health.

Finally, new technologies have emerged to make a decentralized approach more viable. Blockchain points to a series of decentralized solutions for open and durable hosting, governance, and even monetization. Much work to be done, but the fundamentals are there.

Some of these issues were emphasized by @stephen_wolfram in a blog post following his Senate hearing titled “Optimizing for Engagement: Understanding the Use of Persuasive Technology on Internet Platforms”. (writings.stephenwolfram.com/2019/06/testif…) 

Recently we came across @mmasnick’s article “Protocols, Not Platforms” which captures a number of the challenges and solutions. But more importantly, it reminded us of a credible path forward: hire folks to develop a standard in the open. (knightcolumbia.org/content/protoc…) 

Square is doing exactly this for bitcoin with @SqCrypto. For social media, we’d like this team to either find an existing decentralized standard they can help move forward, or failing that, create one from scratch. That’s the only direction we at Twitter, Inc. will provide.

Why is this good for Twitter? It will allow us to access and contribute to a much larger corpus of public conversation, focus our efforts on building open recommendation algorithms which promote healthy conversation, and will force us to be far more innovative than in the past.

There are MANY challenges to make this work that Twitter would feel right becoming a client of this standard. Which is why the work must be done transparently in the open, not owned by any single private corporation, furthering the open & decentralized principles of the internet.

We’d expect this team not only to develop a decentralized standard for social media, but to also build open community around it, inclusive of companies & organizations, researchers, civil society leaders, all who are thinking deeply about the consequences, positive and negative.

This isn’t going to happen overnight. It will take many years to develop a sound, scalable, and usable decentralized standard for social media that paves the path to solving the challenges listed above. Our commitment is to fund this work to that point and beyond.

We’re calling this team @bluesky. Our CTO @ParagA will be running point to find a lead, who will then hire and direct the rest of the team. Please follow or DM @bluesky if you’re interested in learning more or joining! 🌐💬💙

Check out my Shorty interview

The Shorty Interview with Stuart G. Hall

What’s your best tweet?

My Jim Carrey reply after the film ‘No’ maybe, but I’ll let you know:-)

What are six things you could never do without?

My sixth sense, and the other 5.

How do you use Twitter in your professional life?

To connect with likeminded professionals and to discover new information that can benefit me.

What’s your favorite Twitter app?

Tweetdeck

Twitter or Facebook?

Twitter, it’s simpler!

What was the funniest trend you’ve seen?

King Richard III discovered in my home town of Leicester.

What feature should Twitter add?

A 140-character busting feature for use once in a while!

Who do you wish had a Twitter feed but doesn’t?

The head of MI6?

What are some words or phrases you refuse to shorten for brevity?

Sensitive dependence on initial conditions:-)

Is there someone you want to follow you who doesn’t already? If so, who?

Richard Branson, so I can tweet the inside stories of the VIPs with Galactic tickets:-)

Have you ever unfollowed someone? Who and why?

No one specific, just to free up follower space!

Why should we vote for you?

Because it’s time..

Terms you wish would start trending on Twitter right now?

#Galatic

What’s the most interesting connection you’ve made through Twitter?

Myself:-)

Hashtag you created that you wish everyone used?

#thinslicing (I even added it to my blog title)

How do you make your tweets unique?

Base them on connections in my past, present and future.

What inspires you to tweet?

The right time, place and inspiration all rolled up together.

Ever get called out for tweeting too much?

Not really, I am quite a conservative Tweeter.

140 characters of advice for a new user?

Start off slowly, read other tweets, re-tweet, and join in when you feel you have something to share.

How long can you go without a tweet?

A day or so, but no more!

What question are we not asking here that we should?

Good question!

How do you imagine Twitter changing?

More fun features;-)

Who do you admire most for his or her use of Twitter?

@John_Rice for the eccentric marketing style;-)

Who is the funniest person on Twitter that you follow?

Jim Carrey!

What is one of the biggest misconceptions of Twitter?

It’s a complete waste of time, when it’s really not that bad:-)

Why should people follow you?

To get unusual inspiration.

Can you name some one-of-a-kind Twitter accounts that you follow?

@sunnysingh_nw3 for an insider’s perspective of Indian culture, from the safety of west London:-)

How do you decide what to tweet?

I wait for inspiration, and a live issue, to come together.

How do you use social media to motivate yourself or others to live a healthier life?

I’ve worked in public health so I guess I’d have to have a serious answer for that but I don’t!

How has social media helped bring your family closer together and #keepgoodgoing?

#fail

Why’d you start tweeting?

I was setting up communities for accountants and it seemed like a cool way to relax at the time.

Has Twitter changed your life? If yes, how?

Still waiting for Twitter to do it’s magic. Though I really liked my answer to a Jim Carrey joke after watching the film ‘No’.

What do you wish people would do more of on Twitter?

Make me smile:-)

How will the world change in the next year?

That’s a secret:-)

What are some big Twitter faux pas?

er, tweeting like no one is watching.

What will the world be like 10 years from now?

The same, but smaller.

Take the Shorty Interview at Shorty Awards, the awards honoring the best of social media.