Sketching different futures for social media.

Geert Roumen
Designing Fluid Assemblages
3 min readDec 3, 2019

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Social networks are under a huge pressure from governments because of their influence on the social-political and wellbeing of citizens. The main problem is the surveillance capitalistic focus of social networks currently. One reason that it is hard to change this situation is the network effect of social-media giants; users are locked into a certain ecosystem to communicate with each other.

This project explores how we might want to move forward related to social media using a speculative scenario where social networks are forced to have a distributed system (like email); how we might describe ‘properties’ or ‘protocol’ of social media when these properties are defining the soil on which future platforms will emerge. To explore the boundaries of this protocol this project proposes three provocations to: A) propose a social-media-protocol that tries to challenge ownership on these social networks where it moves the focus on individuals towards groups; B) propose different ways to experience information more as a map than a path; and C) propose a different perception of reciprocal interaction in privacy. These provocations are aimed at provoking discussion around our understanding of what social networks are and propose different directions.

A. Changing the perception of ownership

Right now almost all technology in our society is individual focussed, personal computers, iPods, iPhones even within social media we are always logged in as one user.

What if we would not own social-media posts as individuals but as a collective. How would that change the tone of voice? How would that change our perception of what online presence is?

B. Changing the way we explore social media

Right now the main way we interact with the social media timeline is like a slot machine. It is designed to keep us hooked. It doesn’t give us an overview of the social landscape. It doesn’t give us a way to explore beyond what the algorithm gives us.

What if we change the timeline paradigm? What if we move from passive consumers to active explorers on the social landscape? This might lead to better self-reflection and seeing your perspective in the broader social fabric.

C. Changing the experience of availability

Right now social media is always on. People are continuously connected

What if give users the ability to turn their social media down (have limited presence online) or off.

On the hub-device the user can select the level of openness or privacy; this defines how her/his profile will look for others.

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