Has anyone else on here been listening to the twitter spaces for Bluesky, or otherwise following the progress of the project/community?
I’ve listened in a bit and plan to do more. It strikes me that if these people really do this in a way that gets broadly adopted then there is something akin to a constitutional convention going on, ie the creation of a new structure of governance to be put in place over a new sphere of human existence, but without the prayers at the beginning of each meeting and with an incredibly small amount of publicity given the importance of what’s happening.
I also think that the presence of real technical problems to be solved is obscuring the fact that by far the most important questions involved are questions of governance and politics. Painting with broad strokes: these people are a bunch of tech nerds. They think technology can solve everything. They’d like to just get the messy human conflict stuff out of the way and all agree about where we need to go and what we need to do (in classic secular humanist fashion, as if there are no meaningful disagreements about deeply meaningful things and everything would work out just fine if we could just get people to stop being bad). Their answers to questions of governance are therefore incredibly juvenile.
As far as I can tell the basic operative principle for the governance of whatever protocol Bluesky is building is twofold: (1) it should be decentralized and (2) (as articulated by Golda at the beginning of this space and I believe also invoked in the past by Jack Dorsey as well) there must be a way to gradually reduce physical harm resulting from use of the protocol… towards a limit point of zero. That’s it. That’s the alpha and omega of what may very well become the nervous system of much of the internet.
So what happens if a group of heathens that doesn’t use the protocol attacks the United States? Imagine if HTTP suddenly in the middle of a war stopped supporting all uses by the US Military because they were leading to too much physical harm. In this scenario the protocol/platform doesn’t “see” the harm caused by the other side and so there is no way for it to counterbalance the harm being caused by the users of the protocol, and it doesn’t have mechanisms to adjudicate legitimate vs. non-legitimate harm anyway, because the goal is just to get rid of all harm. So the party trying to fight a just war may very well get locked out.
Another failure - what of grave moral evils which do not immediately and clearly lead to physical harm? As just one example I don’t think it’s too radical to say that porn is one of the very few things which should be regulated on the internet, and that is not in fact protected by any reasonable understanding of freedom of speech. And yet a protocol which attempts to enable the moderation of content which leads directly to physical harm is likely to have very little ability to moderate it.
Those are just the first two objections which occur to me. But really the fundamental thing is that simple avoidance of physical harm is not and can never be the organizing principle of any reasonable or even basically functional society, let alone any society which wants to order itself towards heaven. Yet that is the principle upon which “Web 3.0” the next generation of the internet, is being built, at least as far as Bluesky is concerned.
That being said, many of these people are at heart sweet, well intentioned, and technically very smart people.
I think we should, ideally in a somewhat organized fashion even, learn everything we possibly can from them and then work our tails off to provide a competitor so that their stupidly configured mechanism of governance does not come to rule the world.
Would love to talk about this with anybody else who is interested. Send me a DM if you want.