For me a community is not tied to a geographical area. It’s more an area of common life. I live across a number of communities. Family, friends, work, and a number of geeky tech loving groups who exist both on the web and in physical space.
Some hold a fellowship of solidarity and trust. Others merely contain a group of peope who share a common interest. Either way these communities are really important to me.
Anthony P. Cohen argues that communities are best approached as ‘communities of meaning’. In other words, ‘”community” plays a crucial symbolic role in generating people’s sense of belonging’.
I feel it’s this sense of belonging that’s missing from areas in society. And without this we are unable to build a feeling of self, of individuality.
Whether we like it or not capitalism permeates everything we do. Creativity is often styfled as production is privately owned and operated for profit. We are too far down that road to do anything about it. Still, there is no reason why we can’t create communities freely sharing our own thoughts, dreams and aspirations. A shield or filter as an antidote to the bombardment we are subjected to as the advertisers tell us how they think we should live.
The problem is, that most community spaces now cropping up have little to do with freedom of expression. They are controlled environments where the participants are leeched of all shared knowledge, where their interactions and connections are studied at a minute level.
If I arranged to meet with friends on my village green only to find that our every move was monitored and recorded, conversations archived and our home addresses logged.. I’d most certainly go and find somewhere a little more relaxed to chat. If in addition to this we were bombarded with suggestions of what someone thought we should spend our hard earned cash on… I’d probably leave never to return.
That is if there was somewhere to leave to.
We forget that Facebook and Google are advertising companies providing a communication infrastructure. Google plus is not a social network. We are the ones being sociable in the networks. It’s easy to forget this and our amnesia suits them just fine.
I’m aware of this. But only sometimes. It’s far too easy to get sucked in because that’s where my ‘friends’ are.
My networks exists cross platform. But for how much longer?
I won’t go into my gripes with Google+ following in the footsteps of Facebook and dictating how we should be conversing and what we should call ourselves. Making out they are doing us a favour by giving us four days grace to ‘fix’ our accounts should we rather use our nicknames in our posts. There are more than enough people making a noise around this to show it’s Google who are in fact broken.
I am now formulating a backup plan. An escape route. A quiet place where I can chat with friends in as close as I can find to privacy. Whatever that is.
This will probably sound terribly extreme to someone just floating along quite happily. I’d just like more options. I’m bored of the taste of ready meals and fancy something wholesome. Besides, I back up my data, why not back up my communication channels.
I’m not looking to create a secret society. I’m looking for an open system. Not owned or exclusive but shared worldwide. Perhaps a version of Status.net that in an emergency could work even if the internet is turned off. Yes you heard me. Perhaps a mesh-networked bluetooth affair or something using the D-star transmitters dotted around the world. There are options. It just has to be imagined.
And with this I’d like improved email to match.
I feel if i really want to regain control over the way I communicate online I need to ditch GMail. I’ll go for something with encryption. Something that gives me a red page when I am writing to someone not using encryption. It’s not because I have secrets. It’s because not everything I say in a personal email is for sale.
Decentralised, secure, mobile, social… What would you want?
I’m guessing what I want doesn’t exist yet. If not we should make it.