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The Global Town Square is for Everyone (not only blue checks)

Saturday 23 September 2023 - Filed under Default


A unified online space is vital for humanity. Building it the right way is perhaps our greatest challenge but part of that challenge is that there’s never been anything like it.

Photo by ameenfahmy

Meatspace is defined by barriers. Geography, citizenship, language and other affiliations constrain communication while in cyberspace anything is possible. This “town square” could be the new center of the universe and yet to unlock humanity’s full potential it must not import the barriers that so constrained what came before.

There will be trade-offs. One such trade-off is between freedom and civility. It’s understandable that as bad behavior appears, managers respond both by importing barriers from meatspace and creating some of their own. For big tech, it’s account verification, biometric orbs, and blue checks. On the fediverse it’s blocklists, instance bans, and filters. It’s almost impossible to experience a global town square when so many managers have the power to silence. The thing to realize however is users hand over that power when they participate in those systems.

If we want a global town square, we have to build it ourselves and we have to build it in a way where there are no managers. That may sound chaotic and like a lot of work but cyberspace has tremendous ability to bring order to chaos and make hard things easy.

Nostr is a great example. On nostr almost everything is done client-side. A client can connect to as many servers as necessary to construct its global view. Nostriches know there are no mods so they expect to block people and to be on the lookout for innovation should the load become unbearable.

When it comes to bad actors on nostr, account blocks work for casuals but spammers have responded with many new accounts and IP addresses. The good thing is nostr’s emphasis on client-side allows us to try almost anything without permission.

As a bet on web-of-trust, I started downloading user profiles and follows to test with wot-server. I also hope to stand up a web UI so others can gauge the results.

There are many other opportunities to help build a global town square for everyone. There are many challenges in technology, in usability, in sustainability and pretty much every -ology or -ility you can bring.

If you’d like to help with this web-of-trust or in another way, let me know or just jump in.

2023-09-23  »  David Sterry