The third place…

I saw this and thought it was very fitting with the thoughts and arguments about digital public spaces. Especially Oldenburg’s characteristics of the 3rd place.

Neutral ground

Occupants of third places have little to no obligation to be there. They are not tied down to the area financially, politically, legally, or otherwise and are free to come and go as they please.

Leveler (a leveling place)

Third places put no importance on an individual’s status in a society. Someone’s economic or social status do not matter in a third place, allowing for a sense of commonality among its occupants. There are no prerequisites or requirements that would prevent acceptance or participation in the third place.

Conversation is main activity

Playful and happy conversation is the main focus of activity in third places, although it is not required to be the only activity. The tone of conversation is usually light hearted and humorous; wit and good natured playfulness are highly valued.

Accessibility and accommodation

Third places must be open and readily accessible to those who occupy them. They must also be accommodating, meaning they provide the wants of their inhabitants, and all occupants feel their needs have been fulfilled.

The regulars

Third places harbor a number of regulars that help give the space its tone, and help set the mood and characteristics of the area. Regulars to third places also attract newcomers, and are there to help someone new to the space feel welcome and accommodated.

A low profile

Third places are characteristically wholesome. The inside of a third place is without extravagance or grandiosity, and has a homely feel. Third places are never snobby or pretentious, and are accepting of all types of individuals, from several different walks of life.

The mood is playful

The tone of conversation in third places are never marked with tension or hostility. Instead, they have a playful nature, where witty conversation and frivolous banter are not only common, but highly valued.

A home away from home

Occupants of third places will often have the same feelings of warmth, possession, and belonging as they would in their own homes. They feel a piece of themselves is rooted in the space, and gain spiritual regeneration by spending time there.

Weaponised psychology and centralised corruption a tale of two internets?

Public Service Internet
Imagine two sides of a tree. One is private and the other one is public. You have the choice to move freely between both, now thats a park I think is fair to everyone

I was a little disappointed in the discussion I heard during the PsychTech Podcast titled A Digital Attention Crisis? I was expecting a little more in-depth criticism of the digital system. But they seemed to turn against Tristan Harris and the time well spent movement.

Don’t get me wrong some of it did make sense but I felt like they were shooting the messenger not listening to the message. Now to be fair I was listening in the shower and getting ready; so may have missed some key parts while washing my hair. But by the end I was shouting out loud, have they never heard of the Quantified Self?

The point of time well spent isn’t about Tristan dictating some rules from on high. Its meant for us to question our relationship with ubiquitous  connected technology and the way the companies behind them influences our lives.

Ironically a few days before I read Tim Berners-Lee’s rallying call to regulate tech firms to prevent ‘weaponised’ web. Its a pretty good read but I feel slightly muted because thats what Tim is like. I’m much more aggressive about the whole issue, and to be fair Kelli and Josue at the very start say, well its just capitalism, what you going to do about it?

I reject this notion but this is also why my focus isn’t on fixing the over reach of capitalism on our attention, thoughts, relationships with each other and beyond.

What happened to diversity? Just have a look at the apps we all use and whos behind each one

Instead its time to double down on the public sector. This is why I find any discussion related to this from an American point of view slightly painful to hear and lacking of the mention of serious alternatives.

Berners-Lee warned of “two myths” that “limit our collective imagination” when looking for solutions to the problems facing the web: “The myth that advertising is the only possible business model for online companies, and the myth that it’s too late to change the way platforms operate. On both points we need to be a little more creative,” he said.

“I want the web to reflect our hopes and fulfil our dreams, rather than magnify our fears and deepen our divisions,” he said.

He’s absolutely right… Even the concept of a decentralised dating site, gets blank or weird looks. We have hood winked into the centralised model and its not always the best way. I was going say sleep walked but that wouldn’t do justice to the massive influence of the silicon valley tech firms. This is also the part I think the PsychTech podcast misses, this is weaponised psychology not just a happy accident solved by installing an app.

Berners-Lee has always maintained that his creation was a reflection of humanity – the good, the bad and the ugly. However, his vision to create an “open platform that allows anyone to share information, access opportunities and collaborate across geographical boundaries” has been challenged as the web has become more centralised.

You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.
You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” – Buckminster Fuller

Its very much why I was interested in space wrangling the decentralised space at Mozfest last year. Centralised power corrupts I maintain. Tim is right we need a better vision but rather than spend all that effort trying to reform a horribly broken system of corruption, greed and power. Make an viable alternative which makes the existing model obsolete… (love Buckminster for this great quote)

Its time to build a public service internet which maintains its values, diversity and distributed nature of the public; as an alternative to whats currently seen as the whole internet… We don’t need a new internet, we need competing services with different business models which can talk to each other and give options to the people.

You want a private park which is nicely maintained and don’t mind paying for the privilege? Fine. But if you want a park which is public and has a lively community because its free to the public due to taxes. Fine too. Similar to health care, libraries, transport in Europe, you can pay but there is a baseline.

Critical when thinking about the digital divide and the next 1 billion people.

This still leaves a gaping “digital divide” that exacerbates existing inequalities: you are more likely to be offline if you are female, poor, or live in a rural area or a low-income country.

“To be offline today is to be excluded from opportunities to learn and earn, to access valuable services, and to participate in democratic debate,” Berners-Lee said. “If we do not invest seriously in closing this gap, the last billion will not be connected until 2042. That’s an entire generation left behind.”

Two years ago, the UN declared internet access to be a basic human right on par with clean water, shelter, food and electricity. However, in many places, getting online is prohibitively expensive – the cost of 1GB of mobile broadband in Malawi is more than 20% of the average monthly income. In Zimbabwe, it is nearly 45%.

What would Jane Jacobs say about the Public & Private internet?

Found this via colleagues at work; the idea and possibility of a adfree public space.

Being from Bristol, I am all in favour of the points made by Adfree Bristol. I grew up with banksey, subverted advertisements and a protesters of golden hill.

Looking at it from a internet view, I find the tension between private & public so apt for what is happening right now. You only have to look at the fight over ad-blockingnet-neutrality and copyright reform.

The internet for most people is the private internet. Its the property of the 5 stacks and the wanna-be startups fighting for position in the patriarchy (hey lets call it what it is). Its a place of attention grabbing, advertising, monetization.

Tony Ageh, Bill Thompson and many others talked about the need for a digital public space. A speech by Tony Hall was clear for me that, another kind of space; not an alternative but an equal to the normal most people experience is needed.

Silicon Valley has remade our children’s world – but they need British culture too
Instead of restricting young people’s activity online, we need to focus on equipping them with the right tools.

I’ve starting to think broadly about the internet in two halves (it shouldn’t be that way, but it works)

Half Moon

Public internet & Private Internet

They have different business models, different motivations, different network topology and different functions. The thing is, the public internet is mainly dark and largely unknown by most because we don’t spend much time there. You could say eclipsed by the private side.

Mozilla Glass Room

Have a look at the physical graph at the glassroom, to see how eclipsed. (see The Alphabet Empire & Apple Towers).

It doesn’t help that most of the gatekeepers also rely on private internet business models. Cue, Jonathan Zittrain the future of the internet and the friction between the two, but generally the private internet wants to expand into the established public spaces; just like the real world. Who would have thought Jane Jacobs would be extremely fitting for the internet age?