A new Geert Lovink interview has been posted on his site, expressing his ongoing struggle to imagine alternatives to iPhone/Facebook zombie culture. The Q&A below is "curmudgeonly" but still should be read aloud daily, like a church catechism:
Q: Why are you critical of the regular social network sites (SNS)?
A: Because I am part of a generation that fought for decentralized networks, an open internet in which the user wasn’t just a consumer of some product. Developments of the past ten or so years have meant that regular social media users have traded a lot of the earlier complexities and freedom [for] simplicity and speed.
And at the end of the church service, parishioners would read these words of Lovink's in unison, before filing out of their pews:
It is my dream that Facebook will close shop as soon as possible, preferably because its users massively walk away and abandon the service. I am saying this because such sudden exoduses have happened in the past. Amen. [Amen added --tm]
The stumbling block is alternatives. Lovink mentions homegrown attempts at Facebook such as Lorea, Diaspora, Friendica, Crabgrass, and Unlike Us. These are terrible names and that's half the problem. Who says we need another "scalable" connection service? Forums exist all over the web, to this day, for specialized discussion, and there are myriad ways to have conversations using the Net without crawling up Mark Zuckerberg's bum.
Lovink also bemoans "the (conceptual) stagnation of Linux." That may or may not be true, but he shouldn't shrug off that new-ish companies (such as Think Penguin) make it possible for non-geeks to have PCs and laptops that aren't running Windows or the Apple OS. One doesn't have to be "part of a generation that fought for decentralized networks" to appreciate their value. Lovink mentions TOR as an alternative browser; that's a subject for another post but suffice it to say, short of that, there are other ways to increase privacy from ISP and advertiser snooping, such as VPNs, that anyone can install.
The solution is individual choices. Or small groups, making use of available resources. As opposed to another "top down" site that "brings people together."