Camen Design

c share + remix

Where Did the Community Go?

Twitter is not really being part of an actual community, so much as just saying something and hoping someone finds it interesting.

Clint V. Franklin

What I have recently learnt is that it is not enough to make something just because it’s cool. Lots of things are cool, cool ideas are cheap. But if such ideas don’t help people they’re worthless. I have decided to focus my efforts on programming and design projects that help people. Things that change lives and don’t just entertain drive-by downloaders for three minutes.

In the BBS days your online friends were the ones in your dialing code, a BBS could be a local community. When the Internet came along and made the whole thing global it watered down the local aspect but it didn’t destroy the ability to make friends that would last.

Kids toys aren’t what they used to be. I look at the adverts for kids toys today and the single flaw I see that permutates the industry is that most toys do too much now. There’s no room left for imagination. What the child is really interested in is the infinite-possibility of the cardboard box rather than the guided-play of the toy itself. The toys I enjoyed the most were the ones that did the least. Lego (before it became too pre-defined) and toy cars (the realistic model kind that just roll and don’t have traction motors and such).

The point of this metaphor-tangent is that developers have spent so much effort developing the way social-networks work that our social interactions on the web are all codified for us. Like the toy that does too much and leaves us void of imagination, the social networks have defined how we are to speak to each other and how we are to relate to each other and how we are to share our things with one another. It’s all very empty and devoid of imagination.

How we present ourselves on these networks has become so much about the “profile” that it feels like we are all trying to be our own celebrities, as Clint says it saying something and hoping someone finds it interesting.

I don’t want to buy into that any more. It feels like I'm constantly talking “at” people rather than with them. It feels like we’re all working on our own rather than working with each other.

This is by design. Businesses operate on numbers, not on touchy-feely unobjective human interactions.

The old saw is that people don’t understand that Facebook doesn’t consider the users their customers – they consider the advertisers their customers. Make no mistake, this is true… but it implies that Facebook takes some sort of benign “let’s keep humming along and use this big herd of moos to our advantage”. But it doesn’t. Facebook actively and constantly changes up the game, makes things more intrusive, couldn’t give less of a shit about your identity, your worth, your culture, your knowledge, your humanity, or even the cohesive maintenance of what makes you you. Facebook couldn’t care less about you than if it was born in your lower intestine and ripped out of you in the middle of the night.

Jason Scott - FaceFacts

What I crave is the infinite possibility of a blank text file and the “build your own community” nature of a forum that doesn’t impose too strict a definition on what should be discussed and how. The future of the web as a commercial entity is certainly more social networking, so much of it that you can’t go anywhere on the web or outdoors without constantly being “social” all the time. None of this will bring you any more inner peace than before.

When I decided to ditch a number of projects I was umming and ahhing over whether I should keep ThinkTank. It is after all a product to help people and I have only just announced it, but in light of what I have written today, I cannot justify it any more. I have even said myself “Twitter is not the model to follow”, and now I really do understand that.

Could ThinkTank change the web? Yes. Will the model of inter-communicating self-published websites take off without it? Yes. It’ll just be 10× over-engineered and have a stupid, alienating name like “blorking”. Neither will bring me any more happiness, just more anxiety as I continue to play Twitter’s celebrity game.

Here at Camen Design my goal is going to be building a loving, tight-knit community by caring for people’s needs, rather than me building vain products and trying to attract a community. I am excited to get these new projects underway.

If you would like to be a part of this community, please visit the Camen Design forum. There is no registration / e-mail confirmation process, no user-profiles, no social networking, no set topic or agenda, nothing but a text box and your soul.