Another word I've been using a lot is "relationships" and I'm really starting to see a number of ideas coalesce around this.
James Shelley contemplates ways to "support more people participating in an open and independent internet" harkening back to the issue of overcoming isolation on the open web that I've been writing about for almost a year now.
As he says, there has been much discussion on the possible technical solutions but that isn't the biggest problem - getting over online isolation is.
The comment that "[t]his is about human to human engagement" echoes the way I’ve been thinking about things, trying to see those I connect with as whole people, not just items in the stream.
I could, no doubt, make some kind of play on the Dolly Parton/Kenny Rogers song “Islands in the Stream” where they want to "sail away" - I think that's what we need to do. Get away from the social streams to build fuller, more meaningful engagement. Rely on each other rather than the networks.
This all follows on from "Luxury and privilege" and comments about not being able to leave Facebook because of how ingrained it has become. James writes about how social networks provide behavioural reinforcement thanks to "minimum social actions" - low value but seemingly high signal interactions in which we place far too much worth, and the dopamine hits keep us coming back in a truly Pavlovian fashion.
"The only lasting antidote to social media’s current data monopoly is to create independent networks that are more wholesome, creative, interactive, and, yes, behaviourally reinforcing, than what any corporate AI or algorithm can provide."
That behavioural reinforcement, however, has to come through genuine quality of interactions, real connections, creating a "more validating human experience" as James puts it.
This means, however, that we have to pick our targets. Relationships don't scale - at least not the type we need to be building.