The Problem With Social

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Social networks must change if they want to survive and become a driving force for good. And all it takes is the removal of social from socialism.

These days I see and hear an increasing number of people issue more vocal complaints about the value of the social networks they belong to. As if – for the first time – they realize how social networks actually deploy the same socialism that has debilitated vibrant economies for the last few hundred years.

Welcome to the real world!

 

The Reaper of economics

Few people think about the most rudimentary principles of economics before they start, invest, join, use or participate in a technology venture. A problem that restricts the value, distribution, and success of any technology. And a reason I sought an economist venture capitalist in Silicon Valley to support my start-up endeavors ten years ago, to no avail.

One reason why the practices of economics are generally ignored is that our prevailing theory of economics is flawed (yes, I will prove it), and thus generally deemed irrelevant in the pursuit of any business opportunity. Been there, done that. The other reason is that many technology purveyors believe technology drives the behavior of mankind. They are dead wrong. Technology merely supports and can expose and intensify the pre-existing behavior of mankind.

They are “dead” wrong because the technology that does not adhere to the principles of renewable economics, is fundamentally incompatible with the laws of nature by which mankind renews itself. And thus most technology propositions and the companies that build them die (in terms of value add) way before its first adopting generation dies.

A painful financial trap for the savings of public money too, as I explain in more excruciating detail in greater-fool paradise and greater-fool economics.

 

The kiss of death from socialism

In simple terms, socialism is the process by which the common interest of a group dictates the agenda and driving force of that group.

Socialism quickly grows to become a malignant metastasis of grandiose popularity derived from even more severe economic ignorance. In fact, the pursuit of renewable value can by principle never come from socialism. For the people who become responsible for the reinvention of our world are non-conformists and outliers, enjoy little support from the common conceptions of social systems, and their inventions ultimately obliterate the walled gardens of previously acquired social status.

Despite its curse and highly finite proposition, the popularity of socialism by those who are not outliers is astounding. Present even in sectors that depend and thrive on the adversary of socialism. Witnessed by the investor socialism in Silicon Valley that over forty years has turned the gating proposition of venture capital subprime, along with the “innovation” it decides to put on a pedestal. Descending even further into the abyss of fragmentation and mediocrity with the help of even greater socialism, this time deployed by an, even more, risk-averse thesis deployed by the public as crowd-funders.

Socialism is omnipresent in any society void of transparent marketplace merit. Because with the exposure of merit, socialism would be proven wrong. Socialism lives at the macroeconomic level in communism, dictatorships, and highly fragmented throughout yet equally omnipresent, in our version of capitalism that remains void of a universal meritocracy.

Hence, by inheritance of behavior, socialism is omnipresent in almost every piece of technology we build.

 

Social kills the network

Social networks are systems deployed by technology that define and control the desired behavior of its participants. They implicitly implement “rules of the household” – called economics – by which its participants are bound, and include freedom of speech, publishing rights, privacy controls, the definition of social circles, etc.

None of the technology providers running the social networks of today have employed an economist to help them deploy rules that would avoid the same mistakes our governments have made. Today’s social networks use the economic fallacies of socialism to a higher degree than by which the real world is governed. And thus the value of a social network dissipates as quickly as the value of socialism (macro or micro) dissipates.

Especially when the initial growth of a social network forces social networks to haphazardly implement new rules and controls after birth, void of transparency in which its participants ever had a say. Add to that technology’s favorite Trojan horses, like advertising schemes those early participants never explicitly agreed to, or the implicit inclusion or exclusion to search-engine sponsoring. And suddenly the merit and trust attached to the information provided on a social network are literally up for grabs.

Social network providers should not be surprised the socialism deployed by its technology and their actions to correct rules midstream, cause current participants to abandon ship or start looking for greener pastures of the unique definitions of freedoms they aspire to. And new prospective participants, our youth looking for unique ways of self-expression, will think twice before they enter the Trojan castle that trapped their parents.

 

Thumper society

Not everyone is well aware of the stifling outcome of socialism, even though all of us are subject to it. Walt Disney’s Bambi movie sets the perfect scene by which the fallacies of social acceptance can be captured in a nutshell. It happens when Thumper, the baby rabbit, tells Bambi not to be critical, recounting a metaphorical lesson from his mom, Mrs. Hare: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

I hear parents still utter that phrase to their children some seventy-five years after the movie was first released, and I cringe. Because a society that does not hold the rules by which they are governed as responsible as the virtue of their actions is a society that staunchly resists renewal, and thus responsible for its regression.

Thumper’s mom was simply wrong. The rules and ideologies by which we govern ourselves are flagrantly false (as I explain in the linked blog), and thus ought to be criticized and questioned, for our survival depends on it.

Social networks willfully embrace a Thumper society by rejecting criticism. An un-mistaken yet straightforward sign displayed by the inability to thumbs-down an article or comment. Thumper’s rule prevails in social networks. Not that a simple thumbs-down would deploy the mechanism to implement a meritocracy, but a meritocracy cannot exist when articles can only be voted up. And any system void of a meritocracy is subject to early extinction.

Now, the wrath of economic ignorance is not just omnipresent in the technology implementation of social networks. It is present in almost every dominant technology implementation.

 

Et Tu, Apple

Even Apple’s iTunes deploys a mechanism that artificially controls and economically lies about the supply, value and the popularity of the media it distributes and spawns socialism around pretenses of merit. A nuance related to a technology implementation with far-fetching economic consequences.

Let’s use the popularity bars displayed next to a song in the iTunes store as an example. Those bars are an indicator of popularity based on the purchases of that song.  Accumulated across all purchases, the size of that bar can land it in the top ten with massive economic accelerators. The computation of such popularity yields an inaccurate proxy, as every iTunes user can verify for themselves. Just look up how many times you enjoy a song you paid for after purchase.

Looking at my own iTunes library, a tiny amount of all the songs I purchased are rated by me as popular, using the manual five-star-rating mechanism. And a completely different list of songs surfaces altogether when I sort my songs based on which ones I play the most. So, the notion that one or two dollars of disposable income spent by each consumer of music yields an accurate indicator of popularity and thus merit that drives the marketplace is economic foolery.

Rest assured we can prove Apple’s economic stance with iTunes wrong on more fronts than one (we did four years ago). Apple is not alone, similar analyses of economic improprieties can be made of other technologies. Further proof that even the most significant technology companies today are guided by economic ignorance.

 

The proxy reveals the system

Technology companies and their propositions can only become renewable when the technology they build enable a pure meritocracy. And a meritocracy can only exist when its guiding principles staunchly protect it.

A system that hinges on a false or misguided proxy of merit deflates a system’s renewable capacity. Because a system that perpetuates an economic lie will at some point become unable to support the authentic, diverse and changing interests of its participants.

Social networks deploy excessive socialism, boldened by technological accelerants of grand economic ignorance; such as likes, shares, blind references, skills endorsements, etc. with not a trace of merit or truth in sight. And yield a highly inaccurate proxy of the merit of its participants.

The integrity of such “popularity,” in this case, the lack of integrity, is the proxy that reveals the true nature and value of the network.

 

A preacher’s orphanage

The aforementioned economic ignorance by the majority of technology providers spoils the incredible value technology could bring to audiences everywhere, yet instead accelerates the spread and popularity of the debilitating nature of socialism, globally.

Especially people without great alternatives are drawn to these systems because they expect those systems and its participants to help them envision a better life as a citizen of the world, to land a new job to yield more prosperity or to seek help in their pursuit of success. Unbeknownst to them, the socialism deployed by those social networks will do the opposite. Just because socialism rewards only those who perpetuate populism, and thus rewards only those in compliance with a merely minor downstream innovation of the status quo.

It is precisely for that reason technology companies today shall not be trusted with the keys of any governance, regardless of the state of local government. For the governance deployed by technology companies today is in most cases more economically ignorant (albeit engulfed in populism) than that of local governance with at least its feet held to a Democratic fire.

Technology companies must invest to understand and deploy modern economics in its algorithms if they want to portray the world in which technology can spawn governance and value of the truly inspiring kind.

 

A fantastic opportunity for change

For any economy to flourish, classical economics must die – and eradicate the many fragmented pockets of socialism with it. Technology companies have a chance to lead the way if their expertise in modern economics trumps the economic mediocrity that has guided the governments of our bewildered past.

A new normalization and definition of economics will establish new rules by which the capabilities and opportunities of every person will be awarded authentic, trustworthy, and renewable marketplace merit.

Facebook, with one billion users alone, could instantly reverse the creeping socialism that now holds a population larger than most countries “hostage”. With modern economics driving the world’s first global meritocracy, technology companies could begin to positively affect the outlier discovery and real-world outlook of opportunity for those who use its network.

Social networks must change if they want to survive, and become a driving force for good. And all it takes is the removal of social from socialism.

 

 

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Georges van Hoegaerden
Georges van Hoegaerdenhttps://www.method41.com/georges
Georges is the Founder and Managing Director of method41. From analyzing the workings of policy, capital, and innovation, Georges noticed how these siloed constructs are woefully incompatible with the principles nature deploys to produce regenerative performance. With humanity stuck in a fabric of its own making, Georges set out to reinvent the operating-systems of humanity to fix the theory that determines what humanity can discover, aiming to fundamentally improve human adaptability to nature's entropy.
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