✏️ Some thoughts on social media and online art
I've been thinking a lot recently about my relationship with technology, and what exactly I want out of my interactions with my phone and computer. It's becoming clearer to me that despite the unimaginable amount of information, entertainment, and discourse available on the internet, so much of the content I end up consuming every day feels dull and unmemorable. One of the things that bothers me most about the internet is how most search engines and social networks try their best to serve me content related to content I've already seen.
I've heard a lot of arguments against social media recently. Many people are upset about Facebook or Twitter having too much political power, collecting too much data about their users, or acting in anti-competitive ways. To be honest, I largely disagree with those arguments. Unless their government or service provider is censoring content (which I believe is wrong), anyone who accesses the internet has complete control over what sites they choose to visit, what browser they use, etc. How you interact with the internet is entirely your decision, and websites can do whatever they like with the data you provide them. So, how will I solve this problem of not enjoying my time spent on social media? I will delete the accounts on, and more importantly stop visiting, the sites that I do not enjoy visiting.
I love the internet, and I love discovering content on the internet, but I want it to be a tool I only use in short bursts of maximum utility. By that I mean that I want to log in for periods of an hour or less, and spend that time consuming high-quality, entirely novel content. Given the sheer amount of data uploaded to the web every second, surely that would be possible?
A Google search can be unhelpful when approaching a new topic, and it can take a lot of digging to find a few good keywords. I've noticed many times that my search results look a lot different than my friends', a phenomenon described in Eli Pariser's TED talk on "filter bubbles." News publications and link aggregators have all but solved this problem for current events and videos of cats. But I love watching music videos, for example, and those are really hard to discover. Youtube's recommendation algorithm is great, but there is a sense of randomness to its suggestions, and it's designed to keep me clicking. This isn't ideal for discovering new music videos because Youtube's algorithm usually suggests videos I've seen before, videos directly related to videos I've seen before, or content that is not music videos. The best resource I've found for finding music videos is The Internet Music Video Database, but it doesn't feel like the solution. IMVDb isn't an open database, meaning that it can't be copied, so users are at the mercy of the owners of the site to maintain and update it. IMDb suffers from the same problem, but with such a large userbase and the backing of Amazon, this isn't really an issue for most users. However, IMVDb has not been responsive to my submissions and is hard to navigate/search, despite having been online for 7 years. Any work that I contribute to it belongs to someone else.
Maybe I'll try my hand at building a music video database with open licensing and improved discovery.