Links and articles about technology, design, and sociology. Written by Rian van der Merwe. Follow @RianVDM
App.net is not about exclusion, it’s about innovation
Anil Dash discusses App.net in You Can’t Start the Revolution from the Country Club:
In today’s world, where the social web is mainstream, innovating on the core values of tools and technology while ignoring the value of inclusiveness is tantamount to building a gated community. Even with the promise that the less privileged might get a chance to show up later, you’re making a fundamentally unfair system.
I am genuinely confused. If you take this argument to its logical conclusion, is he saying that everything we make should be free so that it doesn’t exclude anyone? Isn’t that how we arrived at the current situation where advertisers call the shots on major social networks?
I didn’t back App.net because I hate Twitter and want to move somewhere else. I love Twitter, and I have no problem with anyone who uses it because I get to choose whose tweets I see. I backed App.net because I want to see what innovation comes out of it. To illustrate my point, in 1970 a NASA director attempted to make the case for space travel to a Nun who asked how he could suggest spending billions of dollars on space projects at a time when so many children are starving on Earth. From Why Explore Space?:
I believe, like many of my friends, that travelling to the Moon and eventually to Mars and to other planets is a venture which we should undertake now, and I even believe that this project, in the long run, will contribute more to the solution of these grave problems we are facing here on Earth than many other potential projects of help which are debated and discussed year after year, and which are so extremely slow in yielding tangible results.
I understand that comparing an app to space travel is silly, but if you read the whole letter you’ll understand the sentiment that prompted me to back App.net. I believe that a community of passionate developers can use the platform to develop ideas that not only solve existing problems with web publishing, but also meet some as-of-yet unknown web user needs.
For me, it’s not about excluding people, or sticking it to The Man. It’s about funding a playground for innovation1.
Wow, did I really just use that tired phrase? Sorry. I actually do mean it, though. ↩