If You Want Uncensorable Media to Work, Get Serious About It

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Avatar for dave_gutteridge
3 years ago

Imagine you're invited to a party. That would ordinarily be a fun option to consider, but imagine you're told that every moment you will be recorded on video, and that video will be made available for everyone to see, forever. Does the party still sound fun?

If you think that even at your drunkest and rowdiest you would never do anything immoral or wrong, that's no guarantee that other people might interpret your words or actions differently. If you've never been misunderstood, then you are unique among humans.

If you ended up going to the video taped party anyway, you might be more cautious about what you say, more careful. More inhibited. It doesn't seem to me like bringing the video camera has made anything better.

Discussions about "uncensorable" social media, especially in the Bitcoin Cash community, tends to focus on big, high level topics. The main focus of BCH enthusiasts is on r/bitcoin, and how it uses aggressive moderation tactics to preserve a certain narrative. It's a pretty big deal if you consider that the narrative they preserve is what supports billions of dollars of Bitcoin value.

But the topic of uncensorable social media goes beyond the immediate concerns of people in the cryptocurrency space. It's also about how services like Twitter can potentially impact global politics by denying some people a voice on their platform.

But not all interaction between people has such weight.

I perform live standup comedy, and part of the process is to test out jokes on audiences at smaller shows. Some jokes just don't work in front of people as well as they seemed like they might when I thought of them in my head. Most jokes are in a middle ground, where they're not so funny now, but with a little tweaking and experimentation, they can become grade A material. Any time you have ever seen a big show by a comedian you thought was funny, all their jokes went through that process, and you are seeing the last version of the joke that worked best.

What if every joke I ever tested was preserved and put on the net forever? What if, when people searched for my name in relation to my comedy, they came up with ten times as many examples of my half baked jokes as they did the final product? They might think I'm nowhere near as funny as my polished show actually is.

These days, places like Twitter can be a place to try and be funny. If someone posts a joke, and it gets no response, then the poster might want to remove it. Just so they can keep the overall level of quality on their feed up, so that people browsing get a good impression.

I just don't see this as any kind of big crime or loss to the world. It's just jokes, who cares if a joke that wasn't funny gets deleted from the universe forever?

Similarly, so what if someone takes a picture of their dinner last night, and then later decides it wasn't as good a picture as they thought? What if someone accidentally writes something a little too private to Facebook and wants to take it down?

Not all information is representative of huge social issues. Most of what people want to post on the net is frivolous to the point of inconsequential. It just doesn't matter enough to make a permanent record of it.

Worse, just like all your actions at a party being recorded, the thought of having to worry about the permanent implications of all our casual online interactions can make people overly cautious, inhibited, or possibly avoid participating at all. That's no fun, and I wouldn't want to live in a world like that.

This is the essential problem with a service like Memo.cash.

I think Memo.cash is actually a very good idea. I think it has a place in this world, and possibly a net benefit for society. I just think it's positioned wrong.

Memo.cash has tried to basically be Twitter, but with permanence, and that is a huge buzz kill. It's the equivalent of the video recorder at the party. I'm willing to bet that the reason Memo.cash has stayed static at just under two thousand actions a day for the last two years is because a significant portion of people went there, posted something, and then decided it wasn't something they really wanted to say, realized it was not possible to edit it, and then re-evaluated the stakes of using that service.

Instead of being a place where people have casual interactions elevated into a permanent record, Memo.cash should embrace its role as a serious place where people make a stand on issues they are willing to commit to. The same way that Wikipedia doesn't just let anyone post anything because they're trying to be a helpful resource and not just entertainment.

Memo.cash doesn't work as entertainment, and there's nothing wrong with that. Not every format or media or platform provides benefit in every single way.

Memo. cash does, or could, work very well as place where people get serious and think long term.

Memo.cash should be challenging people to commit to their truth. In that mode, Memo.cash could live alongside other social platforms, like Reddit, Twitter, or Noise.cash, where more casual discussions play out. At some point, on any other social network, if the discussion elevates to a certain point, someone could say, "Really? You stand by that? So much so that you'd be willing to post it to Memo.cash where it will stay forever?"

Potentially, a service like Memo.cash could be the ultimate point of reference for politicians, pundits, and anyone else who wants to try and make a claim for how the world should be. A politician might say whatever on Twitter, but, at some point, someone could dare them to take it to Memo. If the politician is unwilling to do that, then that could impact their trust level.

Like all tools, uncensorable technology is not inherently good or evil, it matters how it's used. Applying uncensorable technology to frivolous interactions could be inhibiting to the point of killing a lot of willingness to experiment and speak freely. It might dampen growth and change.

But if targeted right, a more serious and conscientious approach, could make a service like Memo.cash a force for good.

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Avatar for dave_gutteridge
3 years ago


I'd like to see noise.cash incorporate the memo protocol in an optional capacity (or vice versa). Having the choice between both impermanence and immutability on the same site would be interesting.

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3 years ago

More options is generally a good thing, but I also think that there's merit in having people go to different services and platforms for different purposes. Having multiple platforms helps ensure no one service has too much sway over public discourse.

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3 years ago

While I'd like to, similarly, see a focus on serious matters on Memo.cash, I don't think there's a good way to make it happen other than what Member.cash has done - extend the protocol to allow for better reputation and feed control features.

Memo doesn't curate content, and I appreciate that, but the other side of that coin is that it's not restricted in attitude to only 'serious' matters.

Not sure if it's a good thing or not. There are services like https://notary.bitcoin.com/, and there could be more such (e.g. mobile apps) that cater to more 'serious' content.

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3 years ago

Thanks for your thoughts.

I don't think Memo.cash should curate content, but I think if they marketed themselves on the premise that permanence means something, then users would respond in kind.

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3 years ago