Dept. of Systemic Reform
But only with a radical rethink of data ownership and entirely new social contracts — is Zuck up to the challenge?
Wow, John, your ‘Facebook is broken’ article has certainly stirred up an interesting cornucopia of responses. What I appreciated most was your acknowledgement that Facebook is simply too large an ecosystem for one simple fix — that’s true of most of the challenges the planet faces right now.
Finding Facebook’s systemic issue will not be easy. One way to do this is for Zuck to explore the interconnectedness of every actor in his ecosystem and how Facebook’s (and every institutional) design doesn’t cater well for all players. This systems thinking approach is beautifully described in the Q&A section of this enlightening talk (Q&A starts at 42:10):
What I find interesting in Zuck’s post is his focus on centralisation vs decentralisation, encryption and cryptocurrency (fully one third of his post). He’s a smart guy, and my guess is he’s wondering how and why FB could lead the charge in the rapidly rising decentralisation movement. Anne McCrossan and Jonathan Bean hinted at this in their comments to your article.
With that said, may I suggest a third scenario for FB to explore?
How Facebook could lead the charge toward governance by data
Governance and social contracts (the way in which we engage with each other and with institutions) are some of the most ancient conundrums of humankind and numerous examples exist proving that we are far from solving how we peacefully coexist as passengers on this planet. One method which has never been attempted (because technology has not yet allowed us to do so) is to apply data-driven, scientific method, trial and error to governance. Zuck himself has hinted at this:
Mark Zuckerberg's Harvard commencement speech centered around how we can improve life through big projects, equal…techcrunch.com
- Seek advice and guidance from forums like the Decentralized Identity Foundation and Blockchain Foundation about what it would take to decentralise Facebook;
- Acquire an identity platform. Contenders include Gem, Uport, Sovrin, Civic, Danube, Netki, Consent, Mooti, Authenteq, Taqanu, Bayonet, SelfKey and more;
- Convert every FB account into a digital self-sovereign identity —this would be by far the world’s biggest and most ambitious decentralisation initiative;
- Shift data ownership from the platform to the individual;
- Provide a personal data vault of all user-generated data;
- Introduce a Guaranteed Basic Income (perhaps as a token) based on the value of each person’s data (steemit, synereo and other players in the attention economy are already experimenting with this);
- Provide a mechanism whereby the self-sovereign identity can opt-in to smart contracts which incentivise regenerative behaviour;
- Convince everyone in his ecosystem that FB really does want to “give people the power”.
Easy? Absolutely not.
Successfully transitioning Facebook to a fully decentralised platform AND a token-based UBI would certainly position Zuck well for prime nomination as Person of the Century. The billion dollar question is whether he will have the balls to do so. He really doesn’t have a choice if he wants Facebook to be relevant 10 years from today.
9 Jan: Added mention of Synereo and Attention Economy. Trent McConaghy wrote a much more detailed version of how Facebook could be tokenised in June 2017, which I was only made aware of after publishing this article. If this topic interests you, I highly recommend Trent’s exceptional coverage of a complex matter: