We are suffering from
information overloading, specially from the content behind the walled gardens of Social Media Platforms. The interfaces are designed to keep us engaged by presenting to us latest, popular, and riveting content. It is almost impossible to revisit the source or refer to such a piece of content sometime later. There are many products that are offering exactly that, “Read it later”, moving content off of these feeds and provide a focused interface to absorb things. I think following are some crucial flaws with the model of learning and consuming the content from Social Media Platforms:
- Consent: Non consensual customization aka optimization of the feed.
- Access: There is no offline mode, content is locked in.
- Intent: Designed to trigger a response(like, share, comment) from a user.
In rest of the post I would like to make a case that solving for “Access” would solve the remaining two problems also. When we take out the content from the platform we have the scope of rewriting the rules of engagement.
As a user I am stuck in a catch 22 situation. Traditional media channels are still catching up, for any developing story their content is outdated. Social media is non stop, buzzing 24x7. How to get just the right amount of exposure and not get burned? How to regain the right of Choice? How to return to what we have read and established it as a fact in our heads? Can we reminisce our truths that are rooted in these posts?
These feeds are infinite. They are the only source of eclectic content, voices, stories, opinions, hot takes. As long as the service is up, the content would exist. We won’t get an offline experience from these services. Memory is getting cheaper everyday, but so is Internet. Social media companies won’t bother with an offline service because they are in complete control of the online experience, they have us hooked. Most importantly, offline experience doesn’t align with their business goals.
I try to keep a local reference of links and quotes from the content I read on internet in org files. It is quite an effort to manage that and maintaining the habit. I have tried to automate the process by downloading or making a note of the links I share with other people or I come across(1, 2). I will take another shot at it and I am thinking more about the problem to narrow down the scope of the project. There are many tools, products and practices to organize the knowledge in digital format. They have varying interfaces, from annotating web pages, papers, books, storing notes, wiki pages, correlate using tags, etc. I strongly feel that there is a need for not just annotating, organizing but also archiving. Archives are essential for organizing anything. And specifically: Archive all your Social Media platforms. Get your own copy of the data: posts, pictures, videos, links. Just have the dump, that way:
- No Big brother watching over the shoulder when you access the content. Index it, make it searchable. Tag them, highlight them, add notes, index them also, they can be searched too.
- No Censorship: Even if any account you follow gets blocked, deleted, you don’t loose the content.
- No link rot: If link shared in post is taken down, becomes private or gets blocked, you will have your own copy of it.
This tool, the Archives, should be personal. Store locally or on your own VPS, just enable users to archive the content in first place. How we process the content is a different problem. It is related and part of the bigger problem of how we consume the content. Ecosystem of plugging the archives with existing products can and will evolve.
In P.A.R.A method, a system to organize all your digital information, they talk about Archives. It is a passive collection of all the information linked to a project. In our scenario, the archive is a collection of all the information from your social media. In that sense, I think this Archive tool should have following features:
- Local archive of all your social media feeds. From everyone you follow, archive what they share:
- Web-pages, blogs, articles.
- Audios, podcasts.
- Complete social media timelines from all your connections is accessible, available, locally. Customize, prioritize, categorize, do what ever you would like to do. Take back the control.
- Indexed and searchable.
The list of products is every growing. Here are a few references that I found most relevant:
- Second brain - P.A.R.A
- How to Make a Complete Map of Every Thought You Think - Lion Kimbro
- Zettelkasten “(German: ‘slip box’) is a knowledge management and note-taking method used in research and study.”
- Roam Research
- Foam “Foam is a personal knowledge management and sharing system inspired by Roam Research, built on Visual Studio Code and GitHub.”
- Memex “Vannevar Bush described Memex in his 1945 The Atlantic Monthly article ”As We May Think“, a device in which individuals would compress and store all of their books, records, and communications”
- MyMind “Everytime you find something you want to remember, you just save it to mymind.”
- Notion “The all-in-one workspace for your notes, tasks, wikis, and databases.”
- HackerNews thread around notetaking, bookmarks
- Twitter thread listing products around knowledge
- Hyposthesi.is “Annotate the web, with anyone, anywhere.”
- Raindrop.io “All in One Bookmark Manager For your inspiration, read later, media and stuff”
- Obsidian “Take great notes that outlive you.”
- It can be done in Emacs….
- The Webpage “an online RSS reader and news aggregator, styled like a newspaper”
- Collected Notes “The simplest, and most powerful note-taking blogging platform ever made.”
- Everything I know “personal wiki where author share everything (s)he know”
Thank you punchagan for your feedback and review of the post.