#SOCIALMEDIA was seen as as a computer-based layer over network connections to be used as an information exchange opportunity for their users. In the wild west hype of Internet emerged a lot of so-called funcionality on screen to tickle the human neurons.
This story is about social media, social distancing, real community life, final goals, military tools and about selecting useful information out of spam and the link between all of them. You are 1 out of 7 out of 23.000 if you read this story down to the end.
When i gave my first lectures in IT-Networking on a glimp of the beginning of remote data transmission i was asked by a elderly student: “What will be a fundamental consequence of using this network on a daily basis?” My answer was simple as that: “The information will loose its value.” Now – looking back – i would likely clarify “the flat-screen-based information…”.
We – as humans – are evaluating the relative truth of information by calculating the distance between the sender (to us) and the source of this information itself. Embedded in never ending story telling we see self-experienced information – sender equals receiver – as likely true, if it is told us by somebody else maybe true and if the person giving us third party information we become more and more unsure.
Based on OSI we experience the information offered in our perception. But finally we are looking on a kind of a black box because we – as an application to receive this information – are not able to decode the underlaying protocols. So like in the last 200.000 years of human mankind we invented strategies to evaluate this black box by using assumptions, prejudices and validations.
Originally created as a military weapon additive the former ARPA-NET, all this ingreediences in this black box became more and more commerialized. In the beginning it was only the access to this black box which was invoiced. Later the bill expanded to include individual functions and access to content inside or behind the black box.
Whenever humans inventing tools they imagine an advantage. They calculate this advantage in comparing tools to achieve their goals. So my second prediction as a reply to the question of my student was: “And the sender will invent more and more sofisticated tools to present their information as true.”
At the same time the black box was growing a lot. As a point in the FIDO-NET fourty years ago i was reading maybe 10 posts in newsgroups and happy about one personal mail a day. The effort to wrap information in a way to send it, was high – like stepping into a little yellow or red iron cabine in the corner of a street to make a remote call – and therefore the average of daily received messages was low.
Based on my career and the capacity of internet functionality our community FamiliaFeliz used a website and social media to spread its information as well. By using this black box we where trapped in the same way as the others and even knowing the conditions from a professional point we experienced the same difficulties “to get our message to the receiver”.
Making research on the possibilities of these new tool social media we where focused on two issues: hidden features and emergent values, in naive speech: “Contemporary communities should have a look at contemporary tools to reach contemporary goals.”
Social media, as a product of private companies, is for sale. You might pay with money – which is another currency for quality life time – or you pay by giving attention, anyway, you pay. Refering to the evaluation of the tool we have to look on advantage and disadvantage of using this tool.
To messure this value we should think about the real goal. For many social media users we see a shift from infinite / final goals to milestones as goals. Lets give a sample: If your final goal is to buy a car you might have a look at some online shops and blogs and vlogs about cars you are interested in. You will compare the received information with your assumptions and prejudices and maybe you will validate it in a test drive at the nearest car dealer. But finally you might buy a car and you stop to make research about it. All research and surfing the internet could be seen as temporary goals to reach the final goal to buy the next car. In this case the information out of the black box is used to reach this defined goal by surfing from milestone to milestone.
But it is not as easy as this. You are not alone using the internet. Some machine learning algorythmns are following you and learning what you like and how you act in front of all this competitive information sources. By tracking your way online – and offline – the sender as an intermediate is learning how to show a given product in the best way to you. As a ROI probably he will try to sell this knowledge to the car dealer.
The message the car dealer is learning from this might be, that it makes a lot of sense to postpone the bio feedback – the test drive – to the latest possible moment in with you made up your mind already about which car you are likely to buy. Therefore you might see less and less opportunities for test drives in the future.
As an international decentralized community FamiliaFeliz doesn’t want to sell a car or any other product. Many other communities – struggling with money to survive – are inventing products like workshops (spirituality, health, community buildung, permaculture, bio construction) for so-called living community tourists.
We do not want to judge about the communities, neither about these clients. It seems to be normal to invent a fitting product for a potential customer. Many of these users are spending hours and hours of screen time to feed the dream of a community life and social media offer a lot of groups where these customers can exchange their dreams and visions about living in a community. No wonder that a lot of communities try to meet their potential clients inside these social media networks surfing for content to feed their dreams.
However, both sides seem to be trapped. The community which try to gather clients will run in a never ending competition about attention and a “LIKE” doesn’t solve any economical challenge for them. The surfer and social media user introduces himself as somebody who search for the final goal to join or invent a community project, but more likely he stick on his chair in front of the screen and return to exactly this surfing mode to feed his desires.
There are other communities – without any business plan for social media – like FamiliaFeliz. These projects are just posting time by time something about their real activities and daily life.
In a social media group called “Projecto de Ecoaldeas en España” we found 63.4% of the posts initiated by the sender as a share of external information not direct related to himself or to an existing project of an ecoaldea (research 2020-05-31 – 6pm). The sender was just sharing information about videos, howto’s and external articles about topics like useful tools, bio construction or spirituality. We can assume that each sender was a) aware about the topic of this group (eco village projects) and b) that each sender expected a value to share this posts in this group. We might assume also that the sender would like to see more of similar postings in this place from other group members. Non of these posts leed to a real eco village project or gives information about a real activity of any existing eco village project.
In the same research we identified 13.3% of the posts as direct advertising with deep links to products, like workshops or webinars. Only half of them where related to existing communities as the provider of such trainings. The other half was posted by individuals, who probably expect to be able to win customers among the visitors of this group.
Only 10% where shared posts from individual members of other groups about real activities of communities and 13.3% where direct posts from community members about activities of their own community. If you count the 10% and these last 13.3% as posts and content really related to the topic of the social media group, it should be noted that more than 75% of the information has nothing or very little to do with the real life of communities.
But nevertheless more than 23.000 members are enjoying this group. So whatever might be posted, this people get what they want.
On the other hand less than 15% of this information is delivered throughout this black box from a sender who might be a real member of a real community.
The word of the year 2020 could be #SOCIALDISTANCING and we don’t know yet how big the impact for future generations will be. But it looks like, that the effect of postings in social media support more the following AI and the companies running the networks and selling the user (behaviour) data than it leads to finite goals of users really willing to enter a community or communities looking for new members to join.
Many years ago i started to develop a social media group called work of art. This group was introduced as “to discover how we could transform virtual attention into real benefit and value for all members”. I wrote: ” Social networks are full of spam and redundant information and it will be a survival of the fittest and a soft skill to use such virtual environments in a human and useful way.”
35 years after using my FIDO-NET server as a host for the first online-based training in collaboration with the public highschool of Cologne i found myself in the year 2020 in Spain in a lock down with kids in the house, neglected by their schools and confronted with inexperienced teachers who desperately practice sending PDF files and video links of social media platforms to their scholar.
In the early years of the internet i was responsible for train-the-trainer seminars. As the elderly student asked me about the future impact in my first online based training in these teacher trainings it was important to me to bring new generations of pedagogues closer to the consequences for their own profession in times of internet. Social media flodding out of the black box was promoted as a social tool, but it kept the distance between sender and receiver and as a product its inherent feature was and is to hold the receiver as long as possible in the loop of surfing: screen time versus quality life time.
35 years ago in my first online based seminar i experienced how important real presence time was for my students. Even receiving information is a social act and useless if not compagnioned by other sense experience than listening and looking.
You have to put your hands in the clay to understand what bio-construction means. You have to wash all the plates for the group to understand what it means to live in a community. You have to donate your last money to another member without fear to understand what shared economy means.
The ongoing fragmentation of societies was initiated by media and politics and the myth of western individualism. We can denote internat and social media as milestones. AI – artificial intelligence – driven algorithms personalize what we see. The information is wrapped and selected like convenient food to hold us in our mental and physical comfort zone.
Flat screen – flat life, when surfing in social media becomes a loop and receiving information becomes the ultimate goal, you will not arrive in the color garden of FamiliaFeliz. Keep in mind: Social media equals social distancing.
Like freedom fighters communicating between each other by sticking short paper messages on tanks we send this message in a bottle throughout this black box of social media.
No workshop, no car, no hidden agenda, our message is simple: just leave the screen and go for your dream. Expand your quality lifetime, in nature, with other like-minded people.
You are 1 out of 7 out of 23.000 members of a social media network group. We calculate 20% active members in this group of 23000. We calculate 15% of them are posting information related to the topic and 1% of them are highly motivated to found or co-found a community (real entrepreneurs). So we wrote this article for nearly 7 people – by posting it into that group, and you are one of them. Maybe you will make it to the color garden.