One of the things that was happening at the time is that one of the accusations that was being made, or that was being proffered by people who made sort of snap, knee-jerk responses to what was going on is that social media is being blamed. Social media was blamed for the worst civil unrest that England had seen in recent years.
When we think about network graphs and we talk about how the network effects that make up an important part of how social movements and how information is distributed online, there’s this assumption in those visualizations that every node in that network is equal. But very often, and you can slice data in many different way, the languages that we speak actually limit the networks that we have access to and that we’re interacting with.
I think that we need a radical design change. And I might ask if I were teaching an HCI class or design class with you, I would say, “How are you going to design this so that not one life is lost?” What if that were the design imperative rather than what’s your IPO going to be?
You don’t know who they are. It gives you no handles, no identifying information, no location. All you know is they’re typing in English and that is how they’re feeling at this general moment in time. And then it just sends them this tweet. It’s one tweet over and over again: “Someone over here wanted you to know that you’re not alone.”