From IndieWeb

Pro-Social Web was a session at IndieWebCamp Brighton 2024.

Notes archived from: https://etherpad.indieweb.org/pro-social

IndieWebCamp Brighton 2024
Session: Pro-Social Web
When: 2024-03-09 14:00



  • On our mind right now: the future of the internet, where are we heading. Does it work well for people in its current state? Will it do in the future? What can we do as web developers to nudge it towards a situation that is better for people's mental well-being and good for society? It's applicable to everyone, especially people who know less about how technology works. Which I think the IndieWeb doesn't focus on to the same extent.
  • Things we'd like to change:
    • When you are looking for information on the internet, especially if you are looking for something specific -- in my case I am learning about coding and looking at blogs, platforms, forums, etc. -- sometimes you have an overwhelming amount of information. If you are new to the topic, you don't know how to sort things. If you are familiar with the theme, you can separate wrong vs. right, good quality vs. bad quality; otherwise, you can't.
    • And so you spend a lot of time researching things. You waste time away to get one tiny piece of information, or you are overwhelmed by things to do. Or some things that are explained are not explained in a good way. It is not clear. Tutorials is a good example. Educational content in general. A lot of people who educate others forget that they are not familiar with so many things as the author. The writer speaks from their point of knowledge. I have a colleague who goes really fast, I don't know all the vocabulary. I need time to learn.
    • That's a huge thing to me. How to make educational content better. Don't leave so much room for interpretation; it's hard for a beginner to adapt.
    • Is it an issue with the way things are written? The lack of interactivity?
    • Issues: How it's written. Focusing. How to make the content it more usable. Better filters. Design. Maybe something like if you want to post educational content, you might have to get a certificate perhaps? A proper certification. A driver's license for publishing things.
  • James: talks about eggs.
  • Low heat on one's oven might be 3, others 5. Scales could be different; old vs. new ovens. It is hard to know. When you are creating content, you need to consider this. Recently, I met someone at an entrepreneur event. There was something written about something that is going to happen in easy language; that was helpful for me. In a short amount of time, I learned what I needed to do without reading lots of text. Why are things not always written like that, so everyone can take advantage of the simplicity?
  • Contracts are the opposite; they don't want you to read, and it isn't great.
  • Better labeling of content would help people find the right one. Would help people figure out where they need to go to solve a problem. Maybe not standardized, but something you can type in a post.
  • Idea: information design for beginners.
  • People think differently. Neurodivergency; you can struggle with the easy things. Beginning with one thing is easy for one person but not others. The person who struggles with the easy stuff might find more complex topics easier. The way of learning and how we perceive content matters in content design.
    • Example in accessibility: Accessibility certification. Body of knowledge is terrible documentation from a usability perspective. My brain doesn't like how it is presented. Also contains outdated information. I'm struggling with this document. Then someone wrote that they is autistic and it took two years to understand the content to get the certification.
    • Potentially, the writing has to be more user friendly. You need to consider your audience. It starts in school; kids learn differently. Learning processes require adaptation rather than prescribing a specific path.
      • Proposal: Alternative version of different versions of the text. Learn how to compose a text.
      • James' note: https://plainlanguage.gov
      • Not just having multiple copies of a text from an academic point of view. Heuristic: If you can't explain it to a six year old child, you didn't get it yourself. Don't use complicated terms; try to be clear.
    • It saves time when knowledge is plainly written. You need to update your knowledge continuously; your time is short. Digestible, intuitive information is essential. You need to be able to get to information quickly. Don't overload your brain with more information.
    • After eight hours of work, then cooking, etc. you may have an hour to learn; you don't want to waste it on useless content.
    • If you are a company and want to onboard colleagues, you want to think about how the process can be fast in a way that helps people learn what they need to get started and be productive. You don't need to rush. We make onboarding so complicated sometimes. It wastes a lot of people's time; without the proper information, people need to ask a lot of questions and feel less comfortable.
  • Design and volume
    • Optimizing for volume and engagement isn't a good idea. But companies maximize profit through it. Social platforms want people to stay there as much as possible. Everyone knows it isn't good, but there is no change.
    • Everywhere there are ads.
    • BeReal the app. The idea that you post one image per day. Your friends may post one, too. You can add a comment. That's it. That's all you can do. It was posed as an alternative ot Instagram. It took off. A lot of people use it. The app was designed not to maximize engagement. People appreciate this. Did they do something -- did they have a secret recipe for getting a pro-social app out to the masses?
    • Content recommendations are a problem.
    • Perhaps BeReal can't be replicated in its such low volume approach.
  • Mastodon
    • Technical improvement
    • Gets you away from the lack of enforcement of rules on Twitter
    • Does Mastodon make people happier? Does it improve their mental well-being? Or is it fundamentally the same interaction design.
      • Maybe not exactly the same. Takes away dependency from a single platform, but doesn't automatically improve your mental health. You could create a platform that is friendlier. No endless suggestions. No endless ads. Instagram recently changed when they show ads. There is an ad between every two stories, and they aren't even related to things you like anecdotally. Someone paid for the ad to appear a certain number of times, unless you pay for your account (in the EU).
  • Do we think targeted adverts are better or worse than untargeted ones? Do people like when things are related to what they like?
    • Targeted ads are not good if you are easily influenced by ads. Then you can have problems later. Bad for your mental health.
    • But it means you don't have to see ads you are not interested in.
  • We don't have good revenue models for content that costs a lot of money; ads aren't working for journalists.
    • Could it be a small payment for specific pieces of content rather than paying for a subscription, etc.? Those small amounts will add up. And you open it up for more people to access content.
  • We have a similar discussion with tickets. Vienna has a euro-a-day ticket for transportation.
    • There are tickets that are half-financed by taxes, half by the person who buys it. If you have a small wage, the cheaper ticket is significant. Conclusion: someone needs to pay for high quality content, but you want to make information as accessible as possible. A middle path is essential. Content that is accessible and usable can get more people in the door, so you can lower your prices to get a larger community using it so you will still have the money you need.
    • A pay what you want model with a minimum.
    • This Week in Tech comes to mind.
    • You need to do costings.
  • A thought exercise: if every website on the web was a paywall w/ pay what you want with a sensible minimum amount, would it be better for people? Would people be happier?
  • Us ending up on the topic of money was interesting.
  • Share a personal website with other people.

See Also