Here are some notes on the Reddit Blackout and a new home for sci-fi fans on Kbin: https://kbin.social/m/scifi. As of this writing, there are 1700+ members and the Kbin magazine exists to give people a new home for science fiction in the wake of Reddit’s Blackout.
But wait, why is all this necessary? Are you creating a new home for Inkican social media engagement? I’ve given a lot of thought to these questions and this blog post helps explain that /m/scifi exists as a public-spirited, philanthropic exercise in human-centered digital conversations. Where Reddit has attempted to be that place for the past ten or twelve years, recent corporate decisions have led to what other journalists call – I will clean up the term for our younger readers: ‘En-poop-ification’: when an online platform becomes more monetized and less user-oriented the longer it lasts.
Actions this year by Reddit have pushed it much farther down the path of ‘less user-oriented.’ Worse, public statements and private actions by the company leave nothing to doubt when it comes to their intentions. “We’ll continue to be profit-driven until profits arrive,” Steve Huffman the CEO of Reddit, wrote in a recent AMA.
You might be asking: what’s wrong with that? Aren’t companies in the business to make money? The answer to that question is, yes – of course they are. But let’s understand that Reddit has spent over a decade enjoying its status as a world-leading platform while kicking the ‘we’ll figure out how to monetize later’ can down the road. Along the way, some important social questions have arrived and Reddit is still failing to show leadership in this matter. Let me explain:
Those that say Reddit ‘will continue on’ aren’t looking at the situation through the lens of history. At its core, ‘Reddit is a rare social product that has seemed to become more relevant over time, as a growing user base comes to appreciate its distinctive, human-centered approach to digital conversations.’ A digital third place, built on mutually-shared beliefs and principals of digital altruism – Reddit existed to Give People Voices – aiming to create a safe space for all viewpoints.
So that’s what Reddit is supposed to do as a ‘platform.’ What about Reddit as a ‘company?’ Sadly, boardroom shenanigans have pursued Reddit throughout its entire lifecycle. Reddit lost the public-spirited people like Aaron Swartz, and gained trolls, hate groups, and the soap opera that was the Ellen Pao debacle. As Will Durant said: ‘A great civilization is not conquered from without, until it has destroyed itself from within.’
Seeds of Destruction Already in Place
Those public statements and private actions by the company I mentioned earlier? They aren’t there to make Reddit a more human-centered place. Monetizing API use won’t increase Reddit’s stature as a ‘a safe space for all viewpoints.’ Like when managers decided to launch the Challenger space shuttle, “the concerns about the O-rings that ultimately led to the explosion were buried in a vast sea of thousands of other decisions … leading up to the ill-fated launch.”
Risks don’t rely on your perspective for existence. “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away,” as Philip K. Dick famously said. This recent Reddit move to monetize APIs creates major cracks in its foundations of digital altruism and human-centered behavior. As I said last year with Twitter: “Twitter has every chance to prove to us that it can be a safe, responsible place for us to interact with our readers if they want to. In the meantime, it’s getting too weird around here. I’m mustering at the life boat station now, in case we must abandon ship.”
Mastodon has been a good home for me, post-Twitter. Kbin seems like it might be, too based on the past couple of weeks. The main thing to remember is that the network is more important than the node. Networks ‘exist because we contribute to them. They are where our best ideas can spread and have impact … It follows that what we can do as part of a network, as part of a collective, is far more impactful than what we can do all by ourselves.’
If you’re interested in a Reddit alternative for scifi-based discussions – please feel welcomed to join us at https://kbin.social/m/scifi! 🙂