Michael Goldhaber is the internet prophet you’ve never heard of
February 4, 2021 4:06 PM   Subscribe

"Michael Goldhaber is the internet prophet you’ve never heard of. Here’s a short list of things he saw coming: the complete dominance of the internet, increased shamelessness in politics, terrorists co-opting social media, the rise of reality television, personal websites, oversharing, personal essay, fandoms and online influencer culture — along with the near destruction of our ability to focus. Most of this came to him in the mid-1980s..."
posted by COD (7 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Most prophets are also advocating we take a different path. Sadly he isn't able to offer one that seems... realistic.
posted by PhineasGage at 4:11 PM on February 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

In general, using the internet less and rejecting most social media should be default. I'm a fan of Apple's screen time counter. Keeping that number under an hour, or even to a half hour, should be right up there with regular exercise and eating more vegetables.

For those with special requirements (working in marketing, etc), an attention "regimen" is likely even MORE important.
posted by justinethanmathews at 4:27 PM on February 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

I read that this morning and have not stopped thinking about it all day. Most of it feels simultaneously obvious and revelatory. I know my attention is finite—that’s why I keep having to rinse the same load of laundry over and over but have no shortage of comments on Metafilter—but I’ve never heard it articulated in quite this way. Of course we’re all deeply cynical that mere awareness of what the internet is doing to us can help us break free, but I have actually gotten a lot better about it in the last couple of years as a result of things like The Social Dilemma, etc. The truth might not set me free but it might free up a couple hours of the day.

I wish there were a way to accumulate points for staying off the internet and to collect them as you go. After every class, the Peloton app shows me the monthly calendar with blue dots for every day I’ve worked out and just seeing it is motivating. I need something like that for staying off my phone (she says by typing on her phone).
posted by HotToddy at 4:36 PM on February 4, 2021 [3 favorites]

I feel like should have realized this would be a problem in my first days in online, text-based RPGs, where even with low player populations at any given time, you basically had to act or speak just to remind people that you exist (and sort of remind yourself that you exist).

Certainly the first days on my job about 7 years ago, when I found I couldn't surf Facebook on my work computer and felt physically uncomfortable as a result, should have taught me something.

I quit Facebook a couple years back, but only have very recently acknowledged that constant attempts to "fix" recommendation lists on Instagram (or YouTube, or Amazon or anywhere really) are not just useless but actively counterproductive. Telling them "I'm not interested in this" lets them know you paid attention to it.

I have been pretty aggressive about stopping as many useless notifications, texts and emails as possible, and that's an unwinnable war too but sometimes you do win battles, at least.

It's my own habits I really want to change though.
posted by Foosnark at 5:22 PM on February 4, 2021 [6 favorites]

I wish there were a way to accumulate points for staying off the internet and to collect them as you go.

There are phone apps that gamify it -- "Forest" gives you little pictures of trees.
posted by clew at 5:47 PM on February 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

I'm not finding this man's revelations as impressive as others seem to, I suppose. The road to idiocracy is the path of least resistance. And that path is, paradoxically, the culmination of a long line of technological developments that allowed a great democratization of multimedia content we enjoy now. The good thing is that anyone can create and distribute all manner of content with ease and professionalism previously unknown. That's also the bad thing. More people are vying for your attention with content that spans the spectrum. Some for their livelihoods or even just vanity. For better or worse.

The big challenge is for you to become more discriminating in your consumption of all this content. For your own health and sanity if no other reason. Again, it's often the path of least resistance, offering some kind of gratification with minimal effort. The other big challenge is dealing with the increasing call for governmental control over content and its consumption. Which always manages to be control over someone else's content and consumption, not yours.
posted by 2N2222 at 8:03 PM on February 4, 2021 [3 favorites]

ok, read it, no specificity to the individual webpage he predicted. Yet a computer idiot like me can design, and by no means Original, idea for a hub. one page (screen) add what you want, mail, search, game, media, etc. Like widgets on a page.1994, two buddies of mine, computer scientific folk, liked it but thought the load speed, design, it basically caught fire
before halting. Should post it.
"shameless" mess in politics in the future of connected computation, circa 1984, Hell I barely code in '84 ,1984, was like tepid HELL with privledge paving stones of Oblivion, hairspray and rearranged abbreviated leather fucking accessories.
Sir did you not see Battlestar Galactica in 1976 or fully weigh auto genocide with the computation of evil. Oh, a possibility turned Inevitable que FB and the world wide existential popcorn machine really evil? Really, did you not read Rubensteins warning (1975) that the greatest threat to humanity would be a data set on everyone and you do that by having people do it for you...Kay, off the rail but I'll say, what if everything were available on everyone but snaffled at once, ya, but at once like an 'Outer Limits' episodic turnstile of banilty and chaos.

The big tech platform debates about online censorship and content moderation? Those are ultimately debates about amplification and attention.
I predict that almost half the globe will have thier own micro satellite by 2030.
[end rant]
posted by clavdivs at 9:59 PM on February 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

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