The Gentrification of the Internet by Jessa Lingel

Chances are, when you go on the Internet, you are only accessing a handful of social media and publications most of the time. Those born in the late 1900s remember visiting many online communities and websites that used relatively basic tools to publish content and make communication between community members possible. But today, most of the content we consume is on mega-giant social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Tiktok.

According to the social scientist Dr. Jessa Lingel who researches digital culture and technological distributions of power, these multi-billion dollar companies have gentrified the Internet into a handful of platforms with consistent user experiences and powerful publishing tools that caretakers of smaller communities and blogs can’t afford to reproduce. As a result, users have migrated to mainstream social media platforms to stay in touch with their existing connections and access a much larger audience while using their polished and better publishing tools.

Dr. Lingel spends a considerable portion of the book describing how neighbourhoods become gentrified in real life and then compares how a similar process happens in the cyberspaces by for-profit social media platforms that generate profit through surveillance capitalism. I recommend this book to people who work towards creating a more diverse and equitable internet.

Webb’s first images remind us how small and young we are

A thousand years ago, people believed that the universe was a crystal dome of heavenly objects where everything underneath was imperfect and sinful, and anything beyond was divine and perfect where God resided. We can’t blame them; their tools were crude, and the church was convincing with how they used to torture and execute whoever disagreed with them.

The recent images from James Webb’s telescope show us how our universe looked like 4.6 billion years ago.

Here is a reminder that our universe is way too old (13.8 billion years), and the Homo Sapiens (that’s us) have been around for only about 300,000 years, which is far too young. Civilization and agriculture started about 10,000 years ago, and most of the world religions were started/invented about 3000 years ago, which is the last 1% of homo sapiens history.

I don’t think this whole universe is here for us or that any deity has published us books with specific instructions on whether people are allowed to eat bacon or participate in sodomy. The scale doesn’t make sense; it sounds like an inside job! Our species’ existential paradox is that we are mainly self-centred and yet so fearful of being alone.

We aren’t even a spec of dust on the cosmic scale, and our lifespan is merely a spark of light. In the end, enjoy your life experiences while you’re still around and be kind to each other!

Colour images are from the Webb Space Telescope Image Gallery

Digital Countercultures And The Struggle For Community

Countercultures and subcultures may not represent the mainstream views, but they shape our worlds more than we can imagine. Jessa Lingel, a social science researcher, has been doing academic research on digital countercultures. Her book, Digital Countercultures and the Struggle for Community, discusses the body modification subculture, drag queens, and punk rock music scene.

Digital Counter Cultures and the struggle for community

The body modification community, at some point, had their online community. Yet, as the internet became gentrified by mainstream social media platforms, many of their members chose to publish content on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Drag queens protested and won against Facebook’s real-name policy. While considering it a predominantly homophobic company, they continued to use Facebook and Instagram to post content for their audiences. The Punk Rock basement music venue organizers refrained from overtly using mainstream social media platforms and relied on DIY and ad-hock community methods of spreading the word based on the Ask A Punk principle.

This book is a fascinating read if you are interested in countercultures.

When the unity of the Center and Left breaks apart, conservatives and far-right win

Today Roe v. Wade got overturned by the right-wing US supreme court. It’s a sad day for the US; it’s a sad day for the people who can give birth.

I keep seeing people say, “I can’t believe that the US supreme court did this” well, that’s because not enough people are taking the threat of conservatism, far-right, and white supremacy seriously enough. Roe v. Wade got overturned because the unity of the Center and Left broke apart, and a winning far-right lunatic changed the composition of the US supreme court.

In every election, power is gained only by winning seats, not by voting for a losing progressive candidate more aligned with your political beliefs, and certainly not by refusing to vote!

In every election, the primary objective should be stopping the conservative and far-right candidates because that is a prerequisite to getting progressive policies protected and legislated in a liberal democracy.

Platform Capitalism by Nick Srnicek

Platform Capitalism by Nick Srnicek is a historical summary of the mainstream internet platforms we use daily on our devices. It also does a decent job of describing different types of internet platforms and their business models.

Platform Capitalism by Nick Srnicek

This book is a quick read; it took me only a few days to finish. Despite the word “Capitalism” in the title, in my opinion, the author keeps a somewhat politically neutral position on the topic and focuses primarily on the platforms’ taxonomy and evolution rather than how they impact the communities and their culture.

Suppose you are an internet consultant or developer who develops and maintains any multi-user infrastructure on the Internet. In that case, the Platform Capitalism helps you better connect the dots between what you already know and what happens behind the closed doors of your organization and leadership team.