A future for people doing good work
By Mark Hurst • November 4, 2022
Maybe it’s the crisp fall air – the best weather of the year in Manhattan – that has inspired me to deliver some good news today. Especially after last week’s column (Scary Silicon Valley: A Halloween update on Big Tech) and this week’s Techtonic episode (Nightmares from Silicon Valley), it’s time to dispel the Halloween gloom and talk about some things that are going right.
1. Good news in social media
First up, we have Elon Musk to thank for motivating thousands of Twitter users to abandon the “hell site” for Mastodon, a free, open-source, and decentralized network. I wrote this post about Mastodon on Good Reports as my favorite social-media site (after the Creative Good Forum, obviously). As I posted on my own Mastodon account:
The core problem of Twitter is the algorithm. Twitter *actively* pumps up inflammatory material in order to juice engagement, and then acts *shocked* when it has a moderation problem.
Moderation at Twitter will never resolve the core problem.
Here at Mastodon, there is no algorithm, which helps explain why everyone is flocking here.
For a good analysis of what’s happening at Twitter, by the way, here’s Dave Karpf today – Elon’s Twitter-Tilt – and Ed Zitron just now – Billionaire Brain Damage. Also in social media (good) news, it’s worth reading Zitron’s Oct 26 piece, Mark Zuckerberg Is Going To Kill His Company. We can only hope.
2. Good news in radio
Next up, I was gratified to see WFMU’s October fundraiser meet its goal, despite some strong economic headwinds. WFMU is where I have broadcast Techtonic for over five years now, and as I remind listeners each week, it’s the greatest radio station in the world. Some day I may get around to writing more about this unique community and its irreplaceable voice. For now, the success of the WFMU fundraiser is a signal that people today still value good, authentic experiences over the corporatized, financialized dreck pervading the culture.
(If you missed the fundraiser and want to chip in to WFMU, here’s the link.)
3. Good conversations on Techtonic
Speaking of the radio show, a couple of recent interviews have featured people who are trying to bring about positive change in the tech industry and beyond.
• October 17, 2022: Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive, which includes the Wayback Machine and a whole lot else. Brewster and I discussed his motivations for starting the Internet Archive. Based in San Francisco, it represents the opposite of the dominant “growth-at-any-cost” ethos in Silicon Valley. All of its resources are available for free, to everyone, with no surveillance, no ads, and no profit motive. (WFMU, similarly, has archives going back 20 years, a tremendous resource.) These organizations give me hope.
• October 24, 2022: Adrian Hon, game designer and author of the new book “You’ve Been Played: How Corporations, Governments and Schools Use Games to Control Us All,” which explains gamification and the (all too frequent) abuses of game-design tactics in non-game software. Hon shows courage in spotlighting what’s wrong in online design today, given that he works in the industry. What’s more, Hon describes how gamification can be done right, respecting users and communities – for teams that are willing to resist the “growth-at-any-cost” ethos.
4. Good Reports updates
Finally, on my own Good Reports site, where I list dozens of alternatives to Big Tech platforms, I’ve made several updates. All of these are good news, showing that there is positive development happening in tech, all freely available – whenever people are ready to switch out of the toxic Silicon Valley monopolies.
Here are the recent updates:
See? Things are looking up. Even AIs can’t deny it. Good people, doing good work, still have a future.
If you’re ready to join a community of “good people, doing good work,” click here to join Creative Good. (Recent posts on our members-only Creative Good Forum cover the latest AI generators; particular challenges of music generation; the new Pattern protocol for home surveillance; Bat Boy and Weekly World News; comments on Musk and Zuck; and the evils of corporate consolidation. And a lot more.)
Until next time,
Mark Hurst, founder, Creative Good – see official announcement and join as a member
Read my non-toxic tech reviews at Good Reports
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