AKASHA Conversations #1 — Designing for moderating decentralized social networks

AKASHA Conversations #1 — Designing for moderating decentralized social networks

AKASHA Conversations is a regular webinar exploring the critical questions of decentralized social networking, with expert presentations informing and inspiring open dialogue and action. To put it another way, AKASHA Conversations is designed to foster the collective design of decentralized conversation.

Decentralized social networking is, effectively, the design for decentralized and civilized information exchange — conversation and other forms of interaction. Immediately adjacent to that of course is then the facility to code for (in the combined technological and sociological sense) whatever agreements have been reached through conversation.

Esko Kilpi nails it:

Knowledge that used to be understood as the internal property of an individual should now be seen as networked communication. This requires us to learn new ways of talking about education, competencies and work itself. What is also needed is to unlearn the reductionist organizing principles that are still the mainstream. Work is communication and the network is the amplifier of knowledge. The process of communication is the process of knowing. Knowledge work is about a community-based cognitive and emotional presence. Bridging, bonding and belonging. ... Work is communication. Conversations and narratives are the new documents. Conversations cannot be controlled. The only way to influence conversations is to take part in them.

Our first such conversation on 9th December began to explore the complexities of moderating decentralized social networks. Moderating is the subset of governing that structures participation in a community to facilitate cooperation and prevent abuse (reference). In the web 3 context we're effectively asking ourselves, how do we do this without needing 30,000 moderators on payroll? And without subjugating ourselves to some machine learning algorithm?

Martin Etzrodt kicked off the webinar by outlining the very first steps the AKASHA team has taken on this journey — we are developing and testing a simple moderation tool in the Ethereum World alpha. It gets us off the starting line, importantly, but it is also the last part of the journey AKASHA will take by itself. It is and can only be community-designed progress from here on in, a transition marked by a presentation by Dr. Amy Hasinoff, author of Sexting Panic: Rethinking Criminalization, Privacy, and Consent.

Amy explored three dimensions: moving from content to community; from rules to dialogue; and from maintenance and repair to fundamental change, which I paraphrased as from malignant growth to regenerativity.

Clearly, it's important to identify the questions before we can attempt answers, and here are three good ones that cropped up in the ensuing discussion:

  • Ed: "Who is the gatekeeper? Who is in control? And how is moderation in a decentralized social context different from its current form in web 2?"
  • Mitko: "How can we accommodate different cultures as well as different contexts?"
  • Ben: "If there is a perpetrator, how could we have a method of making amends?"

Together, we will expand the list of questions to frame the core of our challenge here. There will be an AKASHA Conversation every month, and our focus throughout Q1 2022 will remain moderating. If you know someone who should join the conversation, do have a word in their ear today, inviting them to join us on Discord, Telegram, and Ethereum World.