The Social Block

Fine I’ll Sort It is a new, and if we’re lucky, short-lived, column where I go about solving the world’s ills through design. I’m a designer, I’m supposed to be able to fix things. Or this is what they kept on telling me through myriad degrees.

I’ll be setting out to solve through the miracle of design any number of fantastic and obviously ridiculous things that are way out of my depth like…

  • The UK civil service
  • Foodies
  • The Slovenian language
  • Silicon Valley’s Death Grip on Modern Humanity

Social media is actually quite easy to fix from a first principles standpoint

Twitter and social media in general is actually quite easy to fix. You fix it by rarifying it. Twitter, Tik Tok or any other social media platform du jour haven’t done anything to address the main problem with any social media which is the firehose. If you want to redesign this, to make the messaging more relevant and the harassment less, you need to limit it. Allow one message per day and people will think much longer and harder about what they’re doing on it. Wow, this sounds a lot like printing, and that’s exactly it. While of course we had panic and disinformation since the dawn of time, the cost of publicising it has dropped to essentially zero. This is the problem. The solution is to make it cost.

Value City

What blockchain or Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) is good for is verification. It’s a massive and very slow, but completely distributed, spreadsheet basically that no one person or party controls. To verify a thing on most blockchains, you need to verify a complete block by everyone on that blockchain doing a bunch of math and agreeing that it’s all good, almost like a version. This makes things pretty slow usually as all of the nodes in the network need to take part in this verification.

So speed is an issue in two ways. First is the verbal firehouse that people let loose on the world. Nobody can think of or have any incentive to take their time to wait and consider what they’re going to say. Now this used to be the case because it took a long time and a relatively large amount of money to publish something, to tell the world something. This is all largely gone. The second is the speed of the transaction and/or verification. This could be advantageous though. What if you had to think harder about that knee jerk reaction to JohnMueller74’s rant on the welfare state because the message went into stasis until it cleared? What if it cost to be faster?

What if you had to actually consider what you were going to say to the world publicly?

What if it took some time so you couldn’t do it all the time because you had to wait a bit? But what if everyone else was also under those same circumstances?

And what if this network was owned by everyone, thus not monetisable by any one particular person which would drive what you would be fed in certain ways that would invariably drive radicalisation?

What if you could add a layer of verification not just on the block but on the veracity, validity, importance or worthiness of the content to be added? There’s been a ton of experiments and launched platforms around this sort of thing already I’m sure.

You could of course go much further, which is charge per post. This would make sense because this is how publishing worked for a couple thousand years. If you wanted to put out more words, you needed to pay more. When you don’t need to pay more, people aren’t as choosey with their words. Simple.

So there you are, problem fixed. I’ve sorted it.