Data Communities

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Emaline Friedman:

"I call computing networks “data communities” for two reasons. One is to make visible the fact that networks constitute communities, even though it may not feel that way right now (thanks a lot, corporate web, and your divide and conquer strategy that masquerades as meaningful participation). The other is to generate awareness of the fact that, within these networks, there is always something of value being produced (data) — that both enhances coordination of flows of resources in the present and regeneration via simultaneous recording that makes this possible." (


"The Internet, as it stands, is pushing us further into our bad habits rather than encouraging us to become more capable of collaborating, more open-minded, and more self-aware. Most people think about this as a problem of “filter bubbles”, saying that we can’t rely on the algorithms that we naively trust to deliver content to us. I take an infrastructural view on the problem instead because, to take Google as an example, even its top-level engineers can’t audit or re-work search algorithms in a way that is neutral to what it “knows” about the user. And why would they willingly relax their world domination, anyway?

To me it actually IS about communities and curating big data. Because I’m not at all saying that we shouldn’t be able to transmit detailed data about ourselves. My point is that we are not choosing the communities who curate big data, and if we don’t care about that, we are failing to exercise our freedom of association (one of my favorite freedoms ever! lol).

I think this happens because people are used to…well..just being born into a particular community. The digital world is finally becoming a teenager, realizing “hey! I can choose a clique or a sub-culture more aligned with me!” On blockchain, where data is held universally, it’s like a rebellious/depressed teen, choosing to be anonymous to avoid facing the question about what would be a community to meaningfully take part in.

So, to protect ourselves, we can “reboot” this trend by switching to distributed apps that are governed by its users and whose data is actually held by users, or perhaps by trusted community stewards (like the ecosystem my teammates and I are building with Holo).

Vis-a-vis curating data, my long term vision for distributed apps is that users would be able to opt their data in to support causes. To take one of your examples, motorcycles-without-helmets club would have its own cycling app and someone could decide one day “hey everyone! if you opt-in with your data, we could contribute our stats for research toward legislation to change helmet laws! or for collaborating on proposals to insurers for better-fit plans!”, etc. " (