Leander, TX from my hammock

post 11 / 100 - an exploration into the sort of internet spaces I’d like to be a part of. Inspired by recent directions of research in relational.fyi and conversations with friends.

Most of the current internet is a dopamine-hooked fully-immersive casino with information access putting our collective brains into frenzied loops. Entire memeplexes propagate through networks before individuals have time to chew on and reflect on ideas and exchange their own reactions with smaller, personal circles.

I want a calmer internet space; where I can share unformed thoughts and gift them time and space to develop. Places where they might drift over to peers in adjacent spaces for the chance – but not the obligation – to respond or otherwise reflect upon, completing the loop at the speed of a lazy river instead of a light circuit.

What if we had something operating at a lower frequency, but still at the full richness and expressivity of what digital mediums offer?

it might feel like a community garden #

We can’t know these possible spaces in advance. Though we may have an intuition about who we might encounter within and the subjects and communities they might sprout up around. At best we have a name and an internet address spawning it into existence to collect transient ideas, questions, and reflections from those who pass through.

Such a space isn’t pre-shaped, designed, or architected. It evolves with time; expanding with new members and shifting as themes in the space emerge. Forms and practices present at its inauguration may very well be different from those a year after – each having been introduced by someone and given time to grow into their new home.

There might even be different seasons of play: periods of divergent planting and nurturing followed by collective harvesting and pruning. Many independent visits to one’s own corner might culminate in synchronous sessions where everyone can explore and see all that has been developed in the time since.

these spaces need to be inviting #

A shared canvas in an abandoned warehouse far from the city, open to visitors willing to trek out to it. The address not broadcasted to all of existence nor encrypted to secrecy; just permeable enough to be discovered by those curious enough to add their own drawings and words - whether in continuing a game of improv or leaving a question of their own.

Simple to follow along with others’ contributions, even if one doesn’t know what to contribute quite yet. One could subscribe nearer in style to RSS than to badges and beeps. Dials to tune what wants to be received, how often, and in what form. Queries to hone in to precisely what one wants to be exposed to, and a way of naming and passing these lenses on to others.

they should be fun #

Like a walk in a familiar park. The possibility of encountering a resonant idea or perspective, at one’s own pace and comfort. Owned by those who come and continue its enjoyed existence. Un-opinionated about input forms, molding to and accepting whatever format each brings to it. Dedicated to the pursuit of creativity in shared practice, but always starting with individual messy, imperfect representations of reality as the source.

sharing together is the goal #

Stack enough of these little exchanges together over time and members may see the potential of composing a media more formed and multi-perspectival than its constituent parts. A combination of many fragments across time; framed by the shared context which invited these elements together in the first place.

When a group creates together, the expression has a better chance of being more coherent and resonant with audiences wider or further away. Multiple levels of abstraction, multiple domains, or multiple stories; more ways for more people to connect with the contents and ideas within. It also has a higher probability of existing as the elements had each been exposed to a smaller, quieter social reality before going out into the wider world.

Maybe a reader simply enjoys the piece before moving on the to the next. Maybe they visit the space and explore further, tracing elements through individual histories and leaving comments of their own.

Or perhaps they are inspired to plot down their own neighboring space to explore a fledgling idea – adding to an expanding web of gardens and parks.

a possible future #

  • easy to spin up: like opening an email account and sharing the password with friends
  • signed content streams with source, author, and lineage
  • composeable interfaces for creation, exploration, and curation
  • variety of input and output formats
  • real time subscriptions or in desired format + cadence
  • ability to remix and combine blocks from inside or outside the space
  • publishing capability out of the box

see also #

relational.fyi - rlog jam session

Digital Spaces Blog Club - Azlen Elza

buzzard.life - Kristen Pavle - Figuring Out Next Steps