The interest here isn’t in using the proprietary Twitch source code to build competing services. Rather, this code offers a rare glimpse into the inner workings of one of the Anglosphere’s most significant social media platforms. A chance perform a concrete analysis of all the anti-patterns, surveillance mechanisms, and information controls which characterize modern platform capitalism. A chance to measure our paranoia against the state of the art of corporate social media.
It would be even cooler if we could dig through the code of Facebook, Google, or Twitter, but Twitch is close enough where we could extrapolate a lot of insights and better understand the state of the industry.
These past few years there has been a lot of discourse about “The Algorithm.” How all these major platforms, like Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and YouTube curate what we see based on marketing profiles, demographic information, our comment, likes, dislikes, tracking cookies etc. How they shatter epistemology and push different narratives and ideologies to different groups, while demoting or censoring information which threatens the state and its financial stakeholders. How they shadow-ban users and media. Any chance we have to demystify “The Algorithm” and understand exactly what these companies are doing behind the scenes is incredibly valuable.
This is a pretty fun thought experiment. There are a lot of angles you can approach this from. One of the first things that pops into my mind is the “base and superstructure” metaphor. If we accept the idea that the superstructural realm of culture, politics and social mores is primarily determined by the material base (with some feedback and wiggle room of course), and you completely change the material base which that superstructure is built upon, it will have profound implications. On one hand, you’d have an absolute crisis on your hands, but on the other (at least, in contrast to the present day) you at least wouldn’t have an entrenched capitalist mode of production or the dominance of its ideology to contend with.
The second thing that occurs to me is that no city exists in a vacuum. You could not sustain the 8.3 million population of New York City using primitive agricultural techniques within the geographical confines of the city proper. The population would immediately need to disperse to take up agriculture, hunting and gathering to provide for the basic necessities of social reproduction. If the time-travel were truly sudden and unanticipated, it would be an absolute calamity - the end result could very well be barbarism instead of socialism. If there were some preparation involved, things could potentially go much more smoothly.
Assuming we get past the initial calamity and a sustainable agricultural society is established, I think the socioeconomic theory carried in our time-traveling society’s heads would put them in a better position than if you were to simply take a time machine and select a random agricultural society from history. Marxist-Leninism in particular would probably be rendered largely irrelevant due to the fact that the society is no longer contending with a burgeoning capitalist-imperialist global economic system, but its dialectical-materialist roots would still prove incredibly useful in organizing society as well as predicting/preempting destructive social fissures.
At the end of the day, you can’t solve socioeconomic and political problems with an app. The monopolization of social media is an inherently political problem, and ultimately the only solutions are political in nature. Centralized platforms like Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, and YouTube wield immense power over the way we communicate, and that power is not something that will be surrendered willingly. One might hope that market forces would spur competition, but the past couple decades of tech industry history has only indicated a tendency towards consolidation. Every “promising” upstart company like YouTube, WhatsApp, Twitch, GitHub etc. ultimately succumbs to the Google/Facebook/Microsoft/Amazon blob.
Fediverse platforms like Lemmy, Mastodon, Peertube, Matrix, etc. are great technology. They are the future of the Internet - or at least, they deserve to be. The problem is, the technical details of federation and the implications of software licensing tend to get lost on the vast majority of people who aren’t either software engineers or activists. Most people don’t seem to care about privacy as long as they can get their memes and talk to grandma. As a pathological Free Software nerd myself, I’d talk to friends and family about how awful Facebook is for years and they’d literally reply “if you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear.”
I’ve been praying for a long time for decentralized, Free Software social media to take off. I remember the snazzy videos and Kickstarter campaign that launched the Diaspora network ten years ago. I was crushed when it made virtually no inroads into the Facebook monopoly.
The trend as it appears to me is that alternative social media platforms tend to grow the quickest when the monopoly platforms produce exile communities. Mastodon grew to millions of users out of dissatisfaction about the way Twitter was being operated (and then Gab is another story). Platforms like Raddle, Voat, Tildes, Lemmy, Hexbear, and TD.win (ugh) have grown either due to the fact that they were expelled from Reddit, or were so sick of the direction Reddit was heading in they decided to strike it out on their own.
At the end of the day, software is just a tool. Federated social networking is among the most promising tools in the box because federation appears to be the only plausible mechanism to overcoming the network effect, but it is still just a tool. The adoption of federated social networking platforms will be driven primarily by social forces, and I think the best way for us to promote the use of federated social media is to facilitate this process whenever push comes to shove.
I will give Twitter some credit in the fact that running such a busy platform with international networks providing high availability, replication, mirroring, and caching is no simple feat from an engineering perspective. It is a bit more involved than spinning up a VPS with the latest version of Mastodon. On the other hand - yes - it is a very top-heavy operation with an inordinate amount of resources dedicated to developing and honing features which are harmful to the platform’s users, and marketing those anti-features to ad agencies, investors, and other malign actors.
It turns out that message boards are nothing new. People have been setting them up for their own enjoyment since the dial-up / packet radio BBS era. Many of the technical challenges in running massive platforms like Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter only became problems because these companies sought to monopolize the entire Internet and consolidate hundreds of thousands of subcommunities into one platform. Many of these challenges can be avoided through decentralization. This also frees up resources to respond to the needs of the sub-community rather than attempting to standardize and commoditize all forms of communication under a universal model.
We got banned. I obviously have a vested interest here so I’m not going to attempt to be too impartial, but here’s a summary of what happened.
About a month ago Reddit removed 2000+ communities under the guise of clamping down on hate speech. The vast majority of them were bigoted shitholes and we were glad to see them gone. Overall, it probably did more good than harm - but we had been a thorn in Reddit’s side for a while and they couldn’t help but use the situation to both-sides us. Of all the communities they removed, Reddit mentioned r/The_Donald and r/ChapoTrapHouse specifically in their announcement.
Reddit has a long history of waiting until it is far too late (ie. people getting hurt by lunatics, generating bad press, and impacting their appeal to advertisers) to take action against harmful communities on their platform, and this was no exception. A few months prior to the ban wave, the vast majority of The_Donald’s userbase had already moved to a new independent platform, and by the time they removed the subreddit it was more or less a carcass of its former self. That didn’t stop them from doing a victory lap, claiming the goodwill, and patting themselves on the back for it though. Meanwhile, they nuked one of the most active, anti-sectarian leftist watering holes. One of the most militantly anti-bigoted, anti-capitalist communities on the platform.
Anyway, I don’t mean to prop us up as saints or anything. For the most part were generally shit-posters who recently (over the past few years) discovered there is more to politics than the established political parties and what they show on TV. None the less, we had a lot of organizers in our community and a lot of people with really intricate knowledge of anti-colonial history.
Most of us were lumpen dumbasses, but it was a place where we could fool around and rib each other while learning little bits here and there about about the world, about political economy, about organizing tactics. How we got here, what else is going on, and how we might pool our resources and make the world a slightly better place. A place where we could confirm that we aren’t actually going insane, or alone.
Collectively, I think we knew we had lost something special. Nothing else can explain the amount of work that has gone into restoring the community on independent infrastructure on such short notice, or the bond that has kept thousands of complete internet strangers in touch after having the carpet suddenly pulled out from under them.
I fear I am over-romanticizing ourselves.
Imagine if r/dankleft ran all of Reddit.
To answer your question more truthfully, I have no idea. We’re a gang of around 3-10 thousand Reddit refugees who have been cooped up in a discord server for three weeks and we are figuring things out as we go. We’re in uncharted territory as far as this community goes.
At the moment we’re working on adding a post/comment reporting feature, and giving community mods the ability to disable link/image posts. The APIs, database migrations, and back-end work are pretty much done. For the most part we just need to put together the user interface for these features.
The Discord was raided last week so that gave us an extra impetus to have these moderation tools before launch.
In effort to pick things not already mentioned here, Stellarium and Darktable.
You hate to see it, folks.
We did it, Lemmy!
:party popper: :sparkler: :balloon:
We did it Lemmy!
I’ve been getting back into Kerbal Space Program lately.
Portage gang Portage gang Portage gang.
Apt is nice too.
I thought this platform allowed you to view deleted comments though.
I thought this platform allowed you to view deleted comments though.
I believe this is only if the moderators remove your comment. If you delete your own comments/posts/account, they do not appear in the mod log.
Wow. Incredible work.
There is room for plenty of healthy discussion without entertaining arguments as idiotic as “the Nazis were actually leftists.” The user deserved the ban. Perhaps you can reform some people who’s brains are this poisoned, but there is a balancing act between dignifying these beliefs with a response and fostering a community where no one feels threatened or excluded. It boils down to the paradox of tolerance, and it raises the question of what the objective of this community is. Personally, I’d rather have marginalized folks feel welcome than relitigate the merits of fascism.
For real. Disingenuously misrepresenting the social forces which lead to the rise of the Nazi regime to score points on the people who fought to stop it is coming very close to Holocaust denial by proxy.
It’s not as blatant as outright denial, but it aims to absolve the groups who were responsible and rob us of the historical understanding necessary to prevent such things from happening in the future.
Additionally, there is a plan to implement a purge feature for particularly egregious posts, but as long as these communities are not allowed to spread their roots here, there shouldn’t be much of an issue. Seeing fascists and bigots getting whacked in the mod log doesn’t bother me much at all.
There’s nothing stopping them from setting up their own instances (like Gab did with Mastodon), but they will be ostracized from the fediverse.
Yeah, basically the plan is get the website set up, settle in there, then we can work on setting up a Matrix homeserver. We want to reach land before we sink the boat that’s taking us there. Using FOSS exclusively is a development milestone for the site, and there is a lot of interest in adopting Matrix both for development and community discussion.