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.
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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?
Social media companies have an unparalleled amount of influence over our modern communications. […] These companies also play a huge role in shaping our global outlook on morality and what constitutes it. So the ways in which we perceive different imagery, different speech, is being increasingly defined by the regulations that these platforms put upon us [in] our daily activities on them.
I wonder with all these varying levels of needs that we have as users, and as we live more and more of our lives digitally and on social media, what would it look like to design a semi-private space in a public network?
Where did the Internet come from? And in order to answer that question, you would have to have a pretty clear idea of what you mean when you say “the Internet.” I suspect that if we were to poll everybody in the room, we would have a variety of different, sometimes contradictory, sometimes incompatible, sometimes overlapping, definitions of “the Internet.”
With social media, the compelling opportunities for self-expression outstrip the supply of things we have to confidently say about ourselves. The demand for self-expression overwhelms what we might dredge up from the inside, from our true selves. So the self that we’re expressing in social media has to be posited elsewhere. We start to borrow from the network. We start to borrow from imagined future selves that we can project. We start to borrow from the media themselves and from other kinds of content circulating there that we can now constitute ourselves with.
[The] persuasion model advanced by Rushkoff and Lasn is particularly useful for thinking critically through a variety of recent politically-oriented web phenomena like profile picture changing campaigns, political viral videos, hashtag activism and the like.
Among other things [The Cute Cat Theory] suggests that ordinary online tools and platforms, the kind that people commonly use to share innocuous content such as cute pictures of cats make it possible for non-activist users to create and disseminate activist content online.
So I got curious, and I asked myself what is the Iranian Internet, and who is the Iranian user? I was pissed off enough, like I said, to take a step or to feel the urge to do something. To feel the urge of making something. And the thing that I really wanted to bring across was that censorship is happening in a different country, where it’s being used to bring across information, to make voices heard.
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