Practical Techniques to Align Markets, Recommenders, Social Networks, and Organizations with Meaning and Togetherness

<aside> 👉 This is available as a video, or a 15,000w transcript below. I recommend the video, if you’re a visual thinker like me.

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Video 80 minutes


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Most of us sense something's wrong with social media. A lot of people also say something's wrong with “capitalism”. (I'm using air quotes around capitalism, I’ll be more specific later.) And that something’s wrong with modern politics, liberalism, democracy, education.

People come at these problems from different directions—from climate change, from worries about “coordination failure”, geopolitics...

I came at it through social media.

I started out as an internet optimist. See, in ****2008. I worked at Couchsurfing, which was growing fast. So was and Wikipedia. Flashmobs were booming! Anyone remember Improv Everywhere?

It seemed—to me and to others—that the internet was bringing us a better economy. People were working together, on giant projects like Couchsurfing, Wikipedia, and Linux. I was a true believer: Love would be the new motivator. Money would fade away.

So… that was naive. By 2012, I’d sobered up. By then, Facebook’s News Feed and YouTube had not only replaced TV, but had added hours of screen-time per person per day. The “attention economy”. In alarm, with Tristan Harris and others, I cofounded the Center for Humane Tech.

Actually, it wasn’t called “the Center for Humane Tech” at first— it was called “Time Well Spent”. This was part of my proposal to fix the problem. At CouchSurfing, we tried to maximize the amount of meaningful time our users spent with each other, rather than any measure of transactions. Tristan and I thought that, if more people did this—if they maximized “Time Well Spent” instead of “Time Spent”—it might fix social media.

**That was still naive..**I was young. I thought the problems around me were, technological.




But it goes a lot deeper than that.