Selected Items

Internet Platform Services ...and Middleware
--Saving Democracy
--Augmenting the Wisdom of Crowds
--Bicycles for Our Minds

Delegation of User Control for Social Media Feeds
-- Attention Ranking / Recommender Agent Services (often called 
"middleware") 
-- growing interest in limiting platform power over truth, value, and the democratic way by restoring user choice over what we feed our heads ("Freedom of Impression").
It is the policy of the United States… to encourage the development of technologies which maximize user control over what information is received by individuals… who use the Internet…     (Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, 1996)
Many of my recent writings are at Tech Policy Press (list).

Featured
  • Symposium on Shaping the Future of Social Media with Middleware (4/30/24) - Helped organize this -- held at Stanford by the Foundation for American Innovation and the Stanford Cyber Policy Center with leading thinkers at the nexus of social media, middleware, and public policy. To lead to a comprehensive white paper that offers recommendations and a roadmap for developers, investors, and policymakers.. 

  • New Logics for Governing Human Discourse in the Online Era (CIGI Freedom of Thought Project, 4/25/24) - Pulls together and builds on ideas about how freedom of impression guides freedom of expression without restricting it, and how combining 1) user agency, 2) a restored role for our traditional social mediation ecosystem, and 3) systems of social trust all combine to synergize that process for the online era. It offers a proactive vision of how that can enable social media to become ever more powerful and beneficial "bicycles for our minds."

  • A New, Broader, More Fundamental Case for Social Media Agent "Middleware"
    (discussion draft/deck, 11/9/23+revs) 
    Suggests broad need for middleware services between users and platforms to support three essential pillars, to restore the context that has collapsed online:
    • 1. individual agency
    • 2. social mediation ecosystem
    • 3. reputation.

  • From Freedom of Speech and Reach to Freedom of Expression and Impression (Tech Policy Press, 2/14/23) - Distilling and updating essential reframings from the Delegation series (just below). Managing society’s problems related to how (and by whom) social media news feeds are composed is rapidly reducing to the absurd. Focus on the other end of the proverbial “megaphone” – not speaker’s end, but listener’s. Restore our Freedom of Impression!

  • We Can Protect Freedom of Thought by Deciding What We Feed Our Brains (Centre for International Governance Innovation [CIGI] 1/17/24)
    A shorter spin on the need to reclaim our Freedom of Impression, a contribution to their Freedom of Thought project.
  • The Delegation series in Tech Policy Press with co-author Chris Riley - four parts:
  1. Delegation, or, The Twenty Nine Words that the Internet Forgot (2/28/22)
    Why emphasis on user control in Section 230 is far more important than generally recognized, and how an architecture designed to make high levels of user control manageable can enhance the nuance, context, balance, and value in human discourse that current social media are tragically degrading.
  2. Understanding Social Media: An Increasingly Reflexive Extension of Humanity (4/27/22)
    With a nod to Marshall McLuhan, we connect the centrality of user choice and agency to the deeper social and human substrate that underpins the potential of modern social technologies to bring positive new dynamics into our human interaction.
  3. Community and Content Moderation in the Digital Public Hypersquare (6/17/22)
    Seeing social media as a "digital public square" oversimplifies, and is better seen as a “digital public hypersquare” -- a multitude of digital spaces. Social media must serve an open-ended web of spaces (/squares/spheres), layered & multidimensional, each governed by different rules & norms.
  4. Contending for Democracy on Social Media and Beyond (9/22/22)
    Conflict is part of democracy, and this age of rapid change only promises to accelerate that. Just as democracy is weakened by the prevalence of unhealthy conflict, it is weakened by attempts to suppress healthy conflict that is agonistic, rather than antagonistic.
Other recent or notable items:
Other selected items:
General issues -- Our platforms should serve us, but have take a wrong turn. (See Supportive references below.)
Business model issues -- Specific to user-centered business models for platforms
(See more on my FairPayZone blog)
Other issues in User-Centered Media (to be added...)

(These address my perspectives as an inventor in the media space and related commentary)

Broader issues in in our intertwingled world (to be added...)

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Supportive References for Augmenting the Wisdom of Crowds and The Tao of Truth
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Where I am coming from: The Roots of My Ideas on Tech Policy 
  • As explained there, much of this work builds on my design of a network of social decision support systems for large-scale open innovation and collaborative development of early-stage ideas around 2001-3. 
  • That design is still worth reading... 
  • While the style required of a patent application is not the easiest reading, the copy I posted adds highlighting of portions that are still very relevant, and provided important added detail on many themes that are still very relevant and still forward-looking -- addressing many issues in social media that are still emerging. 
  • Notably, that 20 year-old document includes extensive details on applying the synergy of the three pillars of agency, social mediation, and reputation, supported by middleware, that I refocused on in my 11/9/23 post.