and Jeremy Heimans
Henry Timms和Jeremy Heimans 2018年4月16日
A few years ago, you may remember seeing Facebook (FB) posts like this dotting your newsfeed.
The posts were based on an urban myth. The Rome Statute in fact covers crimes against humanity, not Facebook’s relationship with its users. But the popularity of such posts remind us that the #DeleteFacebook movement we have seen in recent days has much deeper roots.
Every now and then on Facebook’s long journey to platform hegemony, a much-hyped “Facebook Killer” has come along—a new platform that might provide a viable alternative, built on better principles. First there was “Diaspora,” which began as a viral crowd-funding campaign to create a non-profit, user-owned, decentralized alternative to Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg even chipped in—a solid indication that he regarded Diaspora as little more than a charming experiment. Then, in 2016, the social network Ello came to life with a powerful sales pitch: “Facebook’s real mission isn’t to make you happy. It isn’t to connect you with old friends, or to facilitate interesting conversations. You (the humble Facebook user) are not the customer … The people who buy [your] data are the real customers, and that’s to whom Facebook’s business is oriented.” This promise was seductive enough that at one point, its founder claimed that 31,000 people an hour were signing up to the new platform. (Though in time, these users fell away, with the clunky product not living up to the sexy hype.)
These are all preludes to the current moment. What we are seeing, in light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, is the emergence of a much broader political consciousness in regards to the platform. This opportunity ahead is for all of us users not simply to “win” occasional concessions from Facebook, but to start to re-imagine the social (and financial and political) contract that we have entered into with the platform.
Far from the organic, free-roaming paradise the early Internet pioneers imagined, there is a growing sense that we are now living in a world of participation farms, where a small number of big platforms have fenced, and harvest for their own gain, the daily activities of billions. This has a real price. In a Guardian poll in 2017, less than one-third of Americans agreed that Facebook was good for the world, and a paltry 26% believed that Facebook cared about its users.
So the big question ahead is: How might things be structurally different? How might we create models that don’t merely offer the vanilla “power to share” that Facebook touts, but actually share value and governance decisions, along with delivering greater transparency and freedom?
The promise of “platform co-ops”
The University of Colorado Boulder’s Nathan Schneider is one of the leaders of a growing (but still quite academic) movement that is championing what he calls “platform co-ops,” democratically run and governed cooperatives reimagined for a world of peer-based technology platforms, not just farms and factories. This movement wants to turn the participation farm into something that looks more like a digital kibbutz.
Schneider points to models in more traditional industries that run along these lines, like the U.K. department store chain John Lewis, which in 1929 was put into a trust owned by its employees, who share in the retail chain’s profits and elect representatives to its governing board. For new power platforms, he argues, it is their millions of users, not just those on the payroll, who should share in the value created, have a say in big decisions, and be represented in the governance of these platforms. He has proposed that Twitter’s (TWTR) users try to buy it back, arguing that it serves an essential public function. In his mind, for all its challenges, the problem isn’t that Twitter isn’t working for its users—he cites the powerful justice movements that rely on it as evidence that it is. The problem is that “Wall Street’s economy has become Twitter’s economy.”
The #BuyTwitter movement championed by Schneider and others was significant enough that it ended up as one of the five proposals on the table at Twitter’s 2017 annual general meeting. It made a strong case for a Twitter that would function very differently.
A community-owned Twitter could result in new and reliable revenue streams, since we, as users, could buy in as co-owners, with a stake in the platform’s success. Without the short-term pressure of the stock markets, we can realize Twitter’s potential value, which the current business model has struggled to do for many years. We could set more transparent, accountable rules for handling abuse. We could re-open the platform’s data to spur innovation. Overall, we’d all be invested in Twitter’s success and sustainability. Such a conversion could also ensure a fairer return for the company’s existing investors than other options.
This motion was not embraced by Twitter Inc. And it would be very tough to flip Twitter into a co-op in this way. But it points to a compelling alternative vision, for us as participants and for the next generation of platform creators.
In fact, companies with this cooperative-inspired philosophy and model are beginning to emerge. The photo-sharing co-op Stocksy brings together photographers and filmmakers, giving them an opportunity to license their work. They are a proud platform co-op but also a serious and growing multimillion-dollar business. As they put it: “(Think more artist respect and support, less patchouli.) We believe in creative integrity, fair profit sharing, and co-ownership, with every voice being heard.”
For platform co-ops and similar ideas to succeed, governments will have to make it easier to raise money to scale without relying on big investors or the traditional capital markets. There is also a real engineering challenge in ensuring that these types of models move beyond the artisanal to the mainstream. But if the technical piece can be cracked, it’s not hard to see the moral (and financial) appeal to users and content creators. Especially given Facebook’s increasingly strained relationship with its users, a rival that offered a similar user experience but a much fairer deal, might easily attract defectors.
A decade ago, none other than the father of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, saw the dangers of participation farms like Facebook looming.
In 2008, almost 20 years after laying out his original vision, he rallied for the building of “decentralized social networks” that would reclaim his beloved web from increasingly centralizing sites. He saw a big prize in a more fluid and pluralistic world of platforms in which “online social networking will be more immune to censorship, monopoly, regulation, and other exercise of central authority.”
Today, he is hard at work on a project to address that very issue, a plan to radically alter the way web applications work, one that would divorce all our personal data and content from the apps and platforms that now—often literally—own it. Berners-Lee’s Solid project would allow us to own our own data as part of a personal secure “pod” in which we would carry around our digital lives. So imagine that, rather than having all your data on a third-party platform, you now take it with you. (This is what geeks call “interoperability.”) You walk around with your photos, friends, health histories, a map of all the places you have traveled, a list of all your purchases—even the online reputation you have built up in various platforms, an especially powerful commodity. You are liberated to decide what access you would like to grant—and on what terms—to whom. Solid is much more than a different kind of technology; it is a different philosophy. With Solid, your data “reports to you.”
Another solution to the same problem comes in the great—and much-hyped—hope of the Blockchain. The Blockchain is a distributed public ledger that allows everyone to record and see what transactions have taken place. Unlike a centralized secret ledger—such as those of banks—it is transparent. And transactions are verified not by a central force, but as a distributed process. You might know the Blockchain from its most famous (and controversial) application to date: It is the underlying technology upon which the virtual currency Bitcoin is built on.
For non-technologists—even those who have spent hours trying to get their heads around this—the way this actually works can be hard to grasp. But the most important things to understand are the potential human applications. As The Economist puts it, “It offers a way for people who do not know or trust each other to create a record of who owns what that will compel the assent of everyone concerned. It is a way of making and preserving truths.”
The potential of this is as huge as the hype (although, like all technologies, Blockchain remains vulnerable to co-optation and capture). It opens up a world where users might exchange value directly without an extractive middleman. We can easily imagine real estate contracts or financial transactions living on the Blockchain. But we might imagine, too, the intermediaries being removed from the mega-platforms of the world—our Facebooks, Ubers, or Airbnbs—when users, drivers, and riders, or hosts and guests, work out ways to collaborate and exchange directly with each other.
As we look to the future, there is no shortage of predictions about the next participatory technologies and ideas that will transform our lives. Whether it be virtual reality, augmented reality, or blockchains, platforms as we know them today will likely end up feeling rather quaint. But however things turn out, we need to cling to, and build for, a set of principles that ensure the worlds we will live in are less monopolistic, more transparent, and much more attuned to their broader impact.
A public-interest algorithm
To truly reimagine a platform like Facebook, we need to reimagine its algorithm. As Facebook has shown us, social media sites have huge power to alter our consumer preferences, spur or hinder extremism, and sway our emotions with tweaks of code. But today their algorithms function as secret recipes that serve private interests.
So let’s consider how a “public interest algorithm” might work instead. What might a formula designed to favor the interests of platform participants and society at large—instead of just their owners, advertisers, and investors—look like?
It would need three key features. First, the inputs into the algorithm, which shape what content we see and what gets priority, would be fully transparent to the user, including the criteria used by the platform to moderate offensive content or hate speech. Second, every user would have a range of dials that allowed them to alter their world. They could choose to engage with more content they disagreed with. They could “filter in” perspectives and views from those well outside their bubbles. They could reduce sensationalism. Third, the default settings of the algorithm would apply a public interest test, considering how the platform can better serve our broader society. This might operate like an updated version of public broadcasting, bringing to the surface content proven to reduce social tension and extremism and bolster civic discourse, promoting pluralism, and showcasing unserved and underserved communities. This would not come without its challenges—legitimate debates would need to be had around whether, how, and how much a platform should “tip the scales” in this way—but it is a greater moral challenge than an engineering one.
To advance solutions like these, we, as the participants on the participation farms, need to do more than just lament our fates. It will take inspired and dedicated effort—by technologists, entrepreneurs, the platforms themselves, and all of us—to renegotiate the contract with which we participate.
#DeleteFacebook is just the start. We need to go deeper. In the coming months, we may see #ReformFacebook, #RegulateFacebook, and even #ReplaceFacebook take off.
Henry Timms is president and CEO of 92nd Street Y. Jeremy Heimans is the co-founder and CEO of Purpose. This article was adapted from the book NEW POWER by Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms.
几年前，你可能还记得脸谱网（FB）这样的帖子打点你的新闻。“今天，2014年11月30日，在应对脸谱网指南在文章l.111，112和113的知识产权的代码，我宣布我的权利属于我所有的个人数据、图纸、绘画、照片、文本etc…发表我的个人资料。对于上述我的书面同意的商业用途是在所有的时刻…我侵犯隐私是受到法律的惩罚规定（UCC 1 1-308 – 308 1 – 103和罗马法规）。”的帖子都是基于城市的神话。事实上，《罗马规约》涵盖了反人类罪，而不是脸谱网与它的用户的关系。但此类帖子的人气提醒我们，# deletefacebook运动我们最近几天所看到的更深刻的根源。然后每一个现在在脸谱网的漫长的网络霸权，大肆宣传的“脸谱网杀手”已经along-a新平台，可以提供一个可行的替代方案，建立在更好的原则。首先是“散居者”，它开始作为一种病毒人群筹资活动来创建一个非盈利的、用户拥有的、分散的脸谱网替代品。马克·扎克伯格甚至把一坚实的迹象表明，他认为犹太人不比一个迷人的实验。然后，在2016，社会网络ELLO来生活的强有力的推销：“脸谱网的真正的任务不是让你快乐。它不是连接你与老朋友，或促进有趣的谈话。你（微不足道的脸谱网用户）不是客户……购买你的数据的人是真正的客户，而这正是脸谱网的业务所在。”这个承诺是诱人的，以至于在某个时候，它的创始人声称每小时有31000人注册到新的平台。（虽然在时间上，这些用户下降了，与笨重的产品不辜负性感炒作。）你可能已经成为了超过一百万用户参与脸谱网尝试直接民主的平台。2012，它为用户提供了投票批准其隐私政策改变的机会，但有一个问题是：为了使投票具有约束力，30%的脸谱网用户必须参与。美国有线电视新闻网说的时候：“投票将在脸谱网的政策变化，只有2亿9900万票。“这些都是当前时刻的前奏。我们看到，在剑桥Analytica的丑闻，是一个更广泛的政治意识对于平台的出现。未来的机会是，我们所有的用户不仅仅是“赢得”脸谱网偶尔的让步，而是开始重新想象我们已经进入平台的社会（和金融和政治）合同。远离早期的互联网先驱们想象的有机、自由的漫游天堂，我们越来越感觉到我们现在生活在一个参与农场的世界里，在那里，一小部分大平台已经被围住，并为自己的利益而收获，数十亿美元的日常活动。这是实价。在2017的一个监护人调查中，不到三分之一的美国人认为脸谱网对世界有利，微不足道的26%的人认为脸谱网关心它的用户。所以未来最大的问题是：事物在结构上会有什么不同？我们如何创建模型，不只是提供香草“分享权力”脸谱网吹捧，但实际上共享价值和治理决策，以及提供更大的透明度和自由？“平台公司行动”科罗拉多大学博尔德分校的Nathan Schneider是一个成长的领导人的承诺（但仍然相当学术）运动，是捍卫他所称的“平台公司的行动，“民主的运行和治理合作社reimagined为基于技术平台的对等的世界，不只是农场和工厂。这个运动要把参与农场的东西，看起来更像是一个数字的基布兹。Schneider指出，在更多的传统行业模式运行沿着这些线路，如英国百货连锁店John Lewis，其中1929被投入一个信托由员工持股，谁分享在连锁零售业的利润和选出代表理事会。他认为，对于新的电力平台来说，他们的数百万用户，而不仅仅是那些在工资上的人，他们应该分享创造的价值，在大的决策中有发言权，并在这些平台的治理中表现出来。他提出了推特的（TWTR）用户尝试买回来，认为它是重要的公共功能。在他的心目中，尽管所有的挑战，问题并不在于Twitter对用户不起作用，他引用了依赖于它的强有力的司法运动作为证据。问题是，“华尔街的经济已经成为推特经济。”# buytwitter运动受到Schneider和其他人是足够重要的，最终的五个建议在桌上推特2017年度股东大会。它为Twitter提供了一个强有力的例子，它将起到非常不同的作用。一个社区拥有的Twitter可能会带来新的可靠的收入来源，因为我们作为用户可以以共同拥有者的身份购买该平台的成功。没有股票市场的短期压力，我们可以实现Twitter的潜在价值，这是当前商业模式多年来一直难以做到的。我们可以为处理虐待行为制定更加透明、负责的规则。我们可以重新打开平台的数据来刺激创新。总的来说，我们都会投资于Twitter的成功和可持续性。这种转换也可以确保公司现有投资者比其他期权更公平的回报。Twitter公司没有采纳这一动议，用这种方式将Twitter变成合作伙伴是非常困难的。但它指向了一个令人信服的替代愿景，对我们来说，作为参与者和下一代平台创建者。事实上，具有这种合作灵感的哲学和模式的公司正开始出现。照片分享合作社Stocksy汇集了摄影师和电影制片人，给他们一个机会，许可工作。他们是一个自豪的平台公司OP，但也是一个严重的和越来越多的数百万美元的业务。他们指出：“（认为更多的艺术家的尊重和支持，那么广藿香。）我们相信创新诚信、公平的利润分享和共同所有，所有的声音被听见。”平台公司的行动和类似的想法成功，政府将使它更容易筹集资金规模不依赖大投资者或传统的资本市场。也有在确保这些类型的模型超越手工的主流实际工程的挑战。但是，如果技术片段可以被破解，就不难看到用户和内容创建者对道德（和金融）的吸引力。尤其是考虑到脸谱网与用户的关系越来越紧张，竞争对手提供了类似的用户体验，但更公平的交易，可能很容易吸引叛逃者。十年前的自由活动平台，除了万维网之父Tim Berners Lee之外，还看到了像脸谱网这样的农场出现的危险。2008，在他发表自己的最初愿景将近20年后，他重新开始建立“分散的社交网络”，从日益集中的网站中恢复他心爱的网络。他看到了在一个平台中的“在线社交网络将被审查，更多的免疫调节垄断，更流畅的和多元的世界大奖，和中央其他运动。今天，他是很难在一个项目来解决这个问题，计划从根本上改变方式的Web应用程序工作，让我们所有的个人数据和内容从应用程序和平台，现在经常是自己离婚。Berners Lee的坚实计划将允许我们拥有我们自己的数据作为个人安全的“POD”的一部分，我们将围绕我们的数字生活。因此，想象一下，与其把所有数据都放在第三方平台上，不如现在就把它带上。（这是GEEKS称之为“互操作性”）。你带着你的照片、朋友、健康历史、你去过的所有地方的地图、你所有购买的清单，甚至你在各种平台上建立起来的网上信誉，一个特别强大的商品。你被解放来决定你想要什么样的机会，什么样的条件。固体不仅仅是一种不同的技术，它是一种不同的哲学。固体，你的数据报告给你。”另一种解决同样的问题是在大和大肆宣传的blockchain的希望。blockchain是一个分布式的公共总账，让大家看看交易记录已经发生。不像集中式秘密分类账，例如银行的分类账，它是透明的。事务不是由中心力验证的，而是作为分布式过程来验证的。你可能知道B
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