Fighting the authenticity trap of digital networks
its so true. so much of crypto twitter has become a race to get likes - its all regurgitated gibberish! yet the platforms have come to reward that.
so what do we do
Nice piece Joey! I resonate a lot with the idea that cozier and higher-trust communities naturally filter inauthenticity out because it feels weird. Additionally, I think reputation might do something in building trust and signalling high-quality content. We built a reputation platform for communities on Near, called Popula, where each community has its own 'space' (hence, cozier communities) and an independent smart contract rewards contributions with non-transferable fungible tokens (something like Karma points in Reddit). We hope that this high-signal/low-noize environment and the reputation incentive can foster high-quality content and good vibes, preserving authenticity. We'd be glad if you wanted to check it out and give us some feedback :) We are currently on testnet at: https://testnet.popula.io/
Amen! Authenticity rules, phoniness drools.
So great to have come across this today. A piece I'm working on is along the same lines. I'm thinking about how we create these inner bullies that push us to hide our authentic selves and go along with the prescribed inauthenticity playbook
Love this thesis - and would love to hear more about the Foster workshop. I just wrote this piece that is saying a lot of the same things: https://tomcritchlow.com/2023/02/10/riffs/
I think a lot of this comes down to frictionless interactions and people following the default behaviors vs trying to create agency, stand out and do things more original.
Your authenticity frame is interesting - maybe another way to frame that is as the gap between people's stated intentions vs their actual behavior.....
Thank you for raising this, it's something I've been thinking a lot about as well, as I've been trying to find ways to build or find a professional community. Something that struck me in your essay is the word 'optimizing' when it comes to authenticity. To me, this word comes exactly from the world that wiped everything authentic out: LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, etc. These networks are using mechanisms that are built around and enforce constant optimisation. Authenticity is not a metric like engagement or growth. That's why thinking about it in terms of optimization is a dead end. (Disclaimer: English is not my native language so I might be unreasonably sensitive to certain terms.)
I like how you've already sort of answered the question of motivation at the beginning: authenticity can be 'rewarded' — beyond the sheer joy of self-expression — with opportunities. To break it down a bit more, it's rewarded with quality connections with real people you eventually meet offline and projects you start together. And that's something that's really hard to measure and probably isn't even necessary to. That's why I think user-owned networks are doomed at this stage, we are too poisoned by growth, engagement and such like — essentially, by the desire to measure everything. We don't know any better, at least online. We need an example that could 'dewire' us from this (built by people with backgrounds in anthropology, philosophy, non-Skinner psychology, and a high sense of responsibility for the social impact they create). I don't say 'rewire' because it would imply yet another manipulation and more Skinner's bullshit, which we've had enough of. Dewire means shifting our focus from measuring and optimizing to our natural human desire to connect and to the quality of these connections.