Jack Dorsey Is An Idiot
Twitter’s co-founder has come to regret his efforts to manage conversations because “absolute transparency” is the right thing for the Internet and society.
His rationale is that governments and corporations want to “shape and control the public conversation” and therefore any content produced by someone should be permanently available to anybody else until the original author decides otherwise.
This is a principle “that will allow for far better solutions than we have today.”
It’s hard to pick where to start dissecting this idiocy.
First off, very little of what happens on social media could be called conversation, and this is especially true on Twitter. A small minority of voices make statements intended to generate the greatest interest or offense and then everyone else consumes the content.
Clicking on a like button (or giving something a thumbs up, or whatever) is to conversation what a grunt is to poetry.
Second, nobody has open or unbiased access to social media content (let alone Internet search engines). User behavioral data determines the ideas, opinions, and products that get served up to people. Someone is always shaping and controlling the conversations.
Directed by users’ conscious or unconscious proclivities or commercial efforts to sell to them, conversations are really nothing more than sales transactions.
Third, absolute transparency is a techie wet dream. There is no proof…none…that everyone revealing everything to anyone is a practical way to run a country or stay married. The boy geniuses who believe otherwise are usually enamored with getting other people to practice what they preach, because their riches depend on monetizing the stuff their users reveal.
The world’s problem has never been a lack of information; rather, we’ve always struggled to separate facts from opinions. Truths from lies. And rarely, if ever, has more information led directly to better understanding.
Fourth, no commercial space is a public square. Another nonsense bit of magical thinking from the tech world is that crowdsourcing is the best way to vet fact from fiction. Let enough people weigh in and truth will emerge. Public health policy? Climate change? Interest rates? Is Donald Trump lying or telling the truth?
Let everyone say anything and then we’ll decide what’s right or wrong.
Yet Twitter simply replaces his strawmen of government and corporate censorship with the authoritarianism of popular delusions and madness of crowds, all amplified and managed by ever-better algorithms to maximize responses.
Visit often. Get angrier. Buy more.
The thing is that public conversation was never broken. Civil society was woefully imperfect and didn’t work for everyone, but the mechanisms of representative government, peer-reviewed science, and social norms allowed most people to live and work together. All of it relied on our ability to have conversations that were fact-based, reasoned, and to which we were held accountable by law and custom.
The powerful corporations we should fear are those tech companies like Twitter that have blown up the proven practices on which society was once based, and replaced them with their failed fantasies and profit-making aspirations.
Social media “tools” don’t improve the public conversation, they weaponize it and turn it on itself.
They sell us subservience in the name of resistance. Likes instead of votes. Noise instead of conversation. Content instead of information.
Jack Dorsey is a genius innovator, and I should be so lucky to be as smart and inspired (and rich). I assume he actually believes what he says.
So, that makes him an idiot, too.