Rewilding Human-Computer Interaction

Newsletter on 29 November 2022

The basic insight is, again, seemingly straightforward: that every community practices the design of itself.

Arturo Escobar - Designs for the Pluriverse

In June, I was on the stage at Electro-Magnetic Field festival sharing a hypothesis: the top-down micromanagement of social interactions that characterises contemporary social networks is the cause rather than solution to toxic online behaviour.

I explored this through the analogy of rewilding, a movement in environmental conservation which aims to restore ecosystems to their wild state and allow nature to regulate itself, drawing on what I've learnt over the years of watching people confronted with unfamiliar interactive technology.

I received a lot of positive feedback and have now written this up in a new essay Rewilding Human-Computer Interaction.

If you buy my argument, it means the never-ending debate between moderation and free speech is a sideshow to the real root of the problem: technology that strips away humanity rather than amplifying it.

Social interaction, like ecosystems, is a reality more complex than can be modelled, which is what a social media platform essentially is.

As always, reply to this email with any feedback.

Tim
Montreal, 30 Nov 2022.