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Author Topic: What to do about social media corporations?  (Read 5613 times)

Pat

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Re: What to do about social media corporations?
« Reply #90 on: January 06, 2022, 10:15:42 AM »
It's a guy called Chris Allen.
....
I would suggest that this is the reason for things like the oppressive moderation on places like rpg.net, and it being so ideological.
Wow, you really brought it full circle. (Christopher Allen is one of the founders of Skotos, i.e. the owners of rpg.net.)

And I really doubt that conclusion. If it were true, then rpg.net's moderation would have become more oppressive and the site would have become more ideological as it increased in size, but that doesn't appear to be the case. It was wild and woolly at its peak, and then became more intolerant as it shrunk.

I think the fixation on a single number is a bit of a distraction. I do agree with the grooming aspects of speech, and that social networks become more difficult to manage as they scale in size. But I also think there are too many differences between an online "community" and a tightly-knit hunter-gather tribe in the Neolithic to port over the math. It also misses the advent of the city, which clearly developed a set of social norms to minimize and formalize interaction, and allowed humans to scale from villages of 100 to metropolises of 10,000,000. Online forums are even more distant, interacting solely by text.

Kyle Aaron

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Re: What to do about social media corporations?
« Reply #91 on: January 06, 2022, 06:55:11 PM »
Yes I agree we shouldn't be overly-focused on a few exact numbers, as tempting as that is. Nonetheless we can note patterns in behaviour.

As for rpg.net's moderation and other online forums and the like, I'd say that all this Dunbar's Number stuff is part of the explanation, but not all of it. No single factor is going to explain all of human behaviour.

As you note, when rpg.net was growing, they were fairly loose; as they shrank, they became more exclusionary. And that ties in with what we've discussed in another thread about civilisations and resource use: when a civilisation is increasing its effective use of resources, the leadership can afford to be generous. Thus the corn dole in the Roman Republic as it ran around conquering its neighbours, and Prussia's workplace injury schemes in the late 19th century, and various social welfare programmes across the West in the late 20th century.

Likewise, a growing forum has enough (human) resources to be generous and let people scrap amongst themselves a bit. If some of them get pissed off and leave, it doesn't matter, there are plenty more and they care about as much as McDs in the 1980s care about criticisms of their food as unhealthy.

But as an economy shrinks all those social welfare programmes get too much. The Romans spent so much on their military defending stuff they had no money left to spend on something worth defending. Plus they had to spend lots of money bribing the elites to keep them in line. They then wondered why the commoners sometimes welcomed the invaders. So the leaders disdained the commoners, became more authoritarian, and spent a lot of time fighting amongst themselves.

Likewise on a shrinking discussion forum, there'll be more fighting over getting a larger slice of a shrinking pie - in this case, influence on the direction of the forum. Of course, whatever you or I think of any particular ideology present in a forum, the fact of the matter is that designing it to appeal to only 10% (say) of the people - whichever 10% that might be - is going to shrink it further. Trying to appeal just to the Woke leads you to the same place trying to appeal just to players of RIFTS - you might have a period where you do fairly well, but eventually it'll fade and you'll disappear into obscurity.

But of course, there are other factors. The number of participants influences things, but also whether the number is growing or shrinking, and the wider cultural context, and then there are commercial considerations, and...

As a side note: for a few years I was a moderator on bodybuilding.com, which is to bodybuilding what rpg.net is to rpgs. They had a "Misc" subforum which was the 15-25yo male's version of Tangency, where they said a lot of really fucking stupid shit. It was just 15-25yo male living with his parents stupid shit rather than tertiary-educated office worker stupid shit.

At one point bb.com was huge, literally a hundred thousand posts a day. The moderators basically just knocked back spam and porn, that was it. As it shrank, they became more picky. The law also got involved. That guy Elliot Rodgers who was jealous that other guys were getting laid and spent a day murdering couples and women in California had an account there called "SupremeGentleman", and some poor bastard called "CandyJunkie" livestreamed his suicide with people posting "do it, phaggot." Now the Misc still exists, but it's hidden from public view.

Drama everywhere. Humans.
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Shrieking Banshee

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Re: What to do about social media corporations?
« Reply #92 on: January 06, 2022, 11:52:23 PM »
And that ties in with what we've discussed in another thread about civilisations and resource use: when a civilisation is increasing its effective use of resources.

Public attention and status are always finite resources. This I just disagree with because its a constantly stable pie.

Kyle Aaron

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Re: What to do about social media corporations?
« Reply #93 on: January 07, 2022, 07:06:05 PM »
Public attention and status are always finite resources. This I just disagree with because its a constantly stable pie.
Good point! But the ingredients can change. Being well-known and influential took a different path in 2000 than in 1900, or 1200. And some obscure people in 2019 suddenly started appearing on tv every day and affecting millions of people's lives in 2020.

I would just qualify it by saying that "the public" is rather a modern concept, and it's certainly an urban concept. I just finished reading The White Ship about Henry I and the Anarchy in England around 1200, and "the public" don't really feature as a factor. That's because most people lived in villages, and never went more than a day or two's travel from their village. Anyone coming from outside the village was coming to levy troops, demand taxes, or burn the place to the ground (including their own king, who might burn it so its resources wouldn't be available to some approaching rival).

Going from "stranger - danger!" to "oh look, another 2,223 people clicked "like" on the picture of my booty" is really a significant cultural shift.
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Shrieking Banshee

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Re: What to do about social media corporations?
« Reply #94 on: January 07, 2022, 07:32:49 PM »
Going from "stranger - danger!" to "oh look, another 2,223 people clicked "like" on the picture of my booty" is really a significant cultural shift.
But I don't think it really fully ties together into the pie idea. I know resources are finite and competition begins when they are strained and reached, but I feel this is more the experiment where the mouse was wired to recieve direct pleasure stimulus when it pushed a button so it starved to death pushing it in place of doing anything else.

I don't think the resource limit has been really reached both in terms of social and physical goods. But its more our primitive brains are designed to handle a wholly different set of circumstances and when we can 'hack' those circumstances, we get all screwy.

People aren't having replacement level children at all for instance. And many countries have a growing culture of people that just don't want to do anything and settle for being ultra low status part time workers, even in nations with effectively 0 social security like china.

Social media ties into that. It can replicate some surface level elements of interaction, without providing most of the real benefits of the real deal.

Kyle Aaron

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Re: What to do about social media corporations?
« Reply #95 on: January 07, 2022, 08:23:52 PM »
Well, historically if you were a lazy dropout you became a monk or something. That's something we often don't appreciate about earlier times. People being gay, transgender, asexual, lazy or whatever is not really anything new, and every society found something to do with them.

In 2021, if you're a heterosexual and ambitious woman, you can marry well, just as you could in 1221. But you can also build a career of your own, however while you'll have children, the number will be closer to 1 than 6, since to achieve your ambitions you can only have so many interruptions to your career.

But if you're an asexual and ambitious woman you go and study law and become a career woman - at most you might marry so your husband's status can help yours, but you won't have children. In 1221 you were a noblewoman who took up the veil and was immediately made abbess.

And of course societies have long had eunuchs and janisseries and childless academics and so on and so forth. I don't think the behaviour is anything new, it's just how that particular society allows that behaviour to be expressed.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2022, 08:33:57 PM by Kyle Aaron »
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Shrieking Banshee

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Re: What to do about social media corporations?
« Reply #96 on: January 07, 2022, 11:02:17 PM »
And of course societies have long had eunuchs and janisseries and childless academics and so on and so forth. I don't think the behaviour is anything new, it's just how that particular society allows that behaviour to be expressed.
I think your underplaying all these elements by a wide margin, and trying to lump it all into a past equivalent. I can get some of that, but to the extent your doing I think is wrong.

A Trireme and a Carrier are both warships, but they exist in radically different theatres of war with very different consequences.