Z Social

  Come on Z Peoples, let's make ZSocial work.
  This could be where the line is drawn, where we can be sure that the Internet doesn't end up being as irritating as radio and TV. Radio and TV didn't have to become shallow and stupid, but business took it over and need lonely distracted people running to retail therapy and Amusing Themselves to Death, never breaking that buying mood with awareness. Did you notice how Facebook, and even windows computers are getting as tacky and stupid as TV?
    I had to mess around with an Epson Printer on a Windows Computer to set my honey up for her New Year's Cards. They were constantly sending me to their site and asking me to get ink from them… It was worse that TV.
    On Facebook, I blame Hello Kitty and PokeMon for certain shallow attitudes (f-ing stupidity) I see in some Japanese young people, and facebook has ads urging me to join millions of others in Hello Kitty and Pokemon fan groups. Do they want me to shoot myself in the head or something? Guns are for wimps and bullets are unsustainable – I'll have to use a sledge hammer, but before that I'll probably just my pound my cable modem into pieces and get my honey to let me put a Linux distribution on her computer. (Oh No, I'll need the internet connection for GNU software installation and updates, I guess I'll have to just do Facebook Anonymous and Anger Management)
   I have a dream, that I can do social networking stuff without dealing with tacky advertisements, that I can do group chat without supplying cheap focus group info to psycopath corporations (excuse the redundancy). Let's dream. I usally keep from wanting things, it's too disappointing – I'm a sneaky little Buddha over here in the Shine of Japan. It's shiny because it's a _Toxic Archipelago_, the eye of the needle through which we can see illigetimate power ride us into our decline to extinction. Love your beautiful country with Abe Shinzo, and your employer with KeiDanRen's Mitari, Toyota and Nissan build hybrid eco-cars and don't notice that your wolves and otters are extinct, and that the Ashio Copper Mine Slime, The Minamata Mercury and the Fukushima Radiation will never go away. No matter what you buy. We have to develop attention spans and the ability to work together or it will eventually be  our turn to be poisoned and scream "it hurts it hurts" until  we die along with other fellow human beings.
    Let's make this work, replace Facebook with Zsocial, tacky crap with some funny important stuff and then  go on to replace Gmail. I sent a Chris Hedges book as a gift, thinking that someone who thinks effort is a waste of time if we're just going to go extinct anwway – with a comet or something -, would identify with some of Hedge's almost-hopeless gloom and doom. I got a nice e-mail "Thanks for the book I wanted to slit my wrists after the first couple pages." It was an exaggeration I'm sure. But I look to the right of my screen, my browser window, and Google is offering me links to suicide advice, one may have been prevention but I'm pretty sure some were for efficient, effective suicide. WTF?
  Think how awesome it would be if we could make our on-line time as ad-free as the ad-busters guy that wraps up everything in his place to tastefully block out the logos. Naomi Klien is my _No Logo_ Wonder Woman.  I'm American my mind is full of trivial commercial crap.  I thought "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" and "Diamonds are forever" were proverbs, the wise saying people with culture have. Japan has Kotowasa proverbs, I said one to a group of Chinese students and they told me who wrote it a couple centuries ago. Spring's people Don't see the SunRise. You feel sleepy in the Spring. My mind is full of "When the going gets tough…" battery commercials. I read Chomsky and think that brain time and space could have been taken up by Humboldt and Dewey, we should have been taking apart the Constitutional Convention papers in elementary school (learning the "elements" that make up our society, so we can work with them).  I read I.A. Richards and see that I should have been figuring out Plato and The Old Testament to figure out how to rework our "purposes" what we want to be as humans. I think I was watching Footloose and Fast Times at Richmond High during those critical periods. It doesn't have to be that way. We all have minds that are aching to come out and play, serious creative play. We cannot be contained in the mall, but we need help to yank ourselves out of the Gruen Transfer, tighten up our slack-jawed filmy-eyed face and  loosen our minds on each other. All the materials in Znet have been helping me for the last 10 or 14 years. And we can make it better. What if I had discovered Chomsky and Znet's intellectual self-defence before college? I wouldn't have felt as lost reading Time, and US News and World Report, wondering if I was stupid for not getting how El Salvador's Duarte could be a good democratic choice and connected with Death Squads at the same time. I needed some support to see that I could play "circle the moron in this picture" on the national and global stage. Sometimes the most adamant is the most mistaken, sometimes it's you, sometimes its not, just because some guy is the President, or a journalist, doesn't mean he don't get circled when he's wrong. Kennedy is supposed to be cute and good but he almost got us all nuked, Circle! That moron. Sure he's got great press now, like Reagan and Steve Jobs, just because pundits suck up to power and corporations fluff up their representatives with exquisitely crafted propaganda doesn't mean they're decent people. It seems to be the oppossite.
    Did you ever notice how relaxed you feel in the woods? Or when you go to some little hamlet that has too few people to make advertising worthwhile it's blissful. That might be the better air, or the phytoncides that the trees put out. I'm guessing that some of that stress-relief results from getting away from all the ad-manipulation. It's getting harder and harder to ignore the ads on Facebook, Gmail and Google is bound to go the same way if they can't get enough money selling all our most private texts to psychologists and anthroplogists that craft mind-screwing commercials. Sure, for now, ZSocial requires a tad more effort that facebook or Groupme. But effort is good for you. Try dealing with a kid that's been laying around playing DS under the covers all morning. They're useless, in need of shock therapy just to put the screen down and get a plate of food, you have to be Hercules to push them through the Herculean effort they need to make them to get changed and go out the door.
    Like weeds and organic vegetable we need the right sort of stress in our lives, needing to make a bit of an effort for your living makes you more nutritious, more wholesome and vivacious. Let's put in some effort. Maybe I'll be better off if Bill Gates, the FB guy and Apple take over the internet and computer, so I banish them from my house and do more reading and outdoor activity. But I've met some great people, and learned a lot of worthwile substance on the net. Days spent reading ZInstructionals probably gave me more brain power than an attempt at dealing with graduate school would have. Let's get together and create technology with good "bias"(Douglad Rushkoff _Program or Be Programmed_) Let's figure out what we're doing by making it work, like the Zapatista's say "make the road by walking", Let's figure out how to make the Ends and Means(Goals and Ways, South End Press – Liberating Theory) work together making sense. Let's get the "How" and the "Why" informing each other(I.A. Richards). Let's Jump In and start chatting, bullshitting, exchanging, whatever floats your boat. I'll put up with your style, if you'll put up with mine. Let's meet too, I hear I come off a lot differently through mailing lists(in Japanese anyway) than in person. I'm hoping I get a chance to meet at least one other Znetter this year, I met my first one in person this year, we had some great conversations.. Thanks to IOPS(and then facebook -sorry! I was using an iPhone and in a rush) I'm pretty sure I'll meet another fellow foreigner down here in Kyushu..
     We might be missing out on each other's comments and things right now on ZSpace, it may seem cold, off-putting at first. Work through it. Cut people some slack, they might surprise you in a pleasant way at some point. If not, you'll have moved on to other things and won't care by then anyway. Please help me avoid kicking my cable modem through the window, the window is innocent, and probably expensive. I need you people. Make this ad-free social space work. I'm not sure what the issues with Open Source are as far as ZSocial, but Michael Albert and the Zpeople(Lydia Sargent, Cynthia Peters, Stephen Shalom…)  have been walking their talk for decades, I'm guessing the people putting the most brain and othe sweat into the project will work all that out… 
      The SNS format makes it easy to jump in and start writing, everything is dialogue and there's always something to bounce off with Social Networking Sites. Let's fill each other's minds with worthwhile things. There's only so much time for reading and being on-line, I'd rather not waste it by hearing about Charmin commercials getting kids to pressure their mothers into buying different toilet paper( _Consuming Kids_ and _Born To Buy_  are right we need a "Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood" but we need a commercial free environment for ourselves too) or what kind of razors somebody uses. I don't want people (individuals – natural persons that are converting to "legal person"(poclad.org) attitudes like Rushkoff warns) selling me. But I like chatting. Conversation is fun, you discover a lot about people, about yourself. Let's keep this delightful human activity human.  With decent people contributing and running it ZSocial should end up being a great example, you don't need a corporation to supply your needs, a bunch of regular people with different values can get together and make something different, better… Make it work. Please.


  1. avatar
    brian olson October 2, 2015 1:18 am 

    where is it? is this it? sign me up anyway…

    • avatar
      Brian Small October 28, 2016 4:17 am 

      Hi brian olson. I think ZSocial disappeared, it didn’t work out. Maybe the attempt was too early. Now I’m guessing it would be easier to do by running and instance of gnusocial and/or Diaspora (or pump.io) or maybe even some combination of them with MediaGobiin. I spent a couple days last winter vacation experimenting with accounts with those “free as in freedom” SNSs. I think I’ve settled on the Twitter alternative quitter.se/bsmall2 to quickly keep track of key sentences in important articles. Quitter is an variation of gnusocial with a 140 character limit like Twitter. Other variations allow for 1,000 words. On an Android device the application AndStatus lets me share pictures quickly, apparently like on Instagram, with quit.im/bsmall2 . I like Diaspora for keeping articles and quotes together with their comments. It feels more relaxing than the centralized corporate SNS. For photoalbums, and maybe blogs, the MediaGoblin instance at goblinrefuge.com is worth watching. They offer a way to share .pdf files too which is great. The developer is working on a standard for developing activity streams. His work might make efforts like ZSocial have a better chance of success…

      • Jon Servello October 1, 2017 11:38 am 

        I saw an interview with Michael Albert discussing ZSocial, I’m really sad to find this iteration of the project hasn’t come together.

        About the interview:

        For anyone stumbling across this comment, it was conducted some years ago and is a bit frustrating to watch, but it is interesting for highlighting some of the disparities between open source and activist communities: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tb-C_uzqMv0

        One of the features described, an RSS reader, would have been extremely useful for me personally. As it stands, I pay the service Feedly so I can have a simple way of accessing my news sources across devices without having to self-host/set up my own server.

        As Albert points out in the interview, independently ‘owning’ your personal data is a niche technological point. The idea that everyone withdrawing their data and hosting on privately owned machines or servers simply isn’t a viable solution. Nor is the preoccupation of decentralisation of data, such as on friendi.ca. Data will be shared among a growing number of people and organisations, and beyond a certain scale this needs to be structured in some way in the real world (even something as simple as who will own and maintain the servers, for instance — Facebook have 60,000). The more pertinent point is about whether you trust the organisations will invariably have access to your data once it’s shared.

        About the potential for ZSocial:

        I am convinced this must be attempted again sometime in the future. There’s plenty of research being published each year cataloguing the negative effects of social media; increased anxiety, shorter attention spans and decreased ability to focus on one task at a time, not to mention the considerable impact on real life communications and relationships. This isn’t even touching upon the political aspects, such as selling off data to private interests, targeted advertising, the echo chamber effect, astroturfing… the list is endless.

        I really think activist groups have no choice but to respond, and it may involve greater collaboration with the more political elements of open source.

        Maybe the development of the ZNet app is a promising sign for the future…

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