⚡️ Welcome to Our Crib
Introducing a dedicated space for the Reboot reader community
One of the biggest, most welcome surprises in creating Reboot has been the growth of the community.
It started out with a small group of people who we saw come to book event after book event. Then the undergrad fellowship. Then the writers’ retreat, Camp Reboot, real-life “discourse brunches,” and more. I’ve seen friends, roommates, career pivots, and even relationships emerge from this group; I’ve gotten podcast recs (namely Know Your Enemy) and home furnishing advice (suburban estate sales) and trudged through books I’d never otherwise read (currently Balaji Srinivasan’s The Network State, which is… interesting).
So far, our fellows and contributor community have gathered mainly in Discord. This works well to an extent, but Discord involves a big learning curve, a never-ending stream of notifications, and a lot of admin work for a volunteer team.
While the growth of this newsletter has outpaced our ability to add everyone there, I’m still super intrigued by the cozyweb / dark forests / alt Twitter / digital neighborhoods / spaces for semiprivate, Discord-like communities outside of the algorithmic, context-collapsed chaos of social media. The amazing people I’ve met through Reboot are one actualization of these theories. And in my day job at Substack, I’ve been working on a new feature that scale these experiences to us and many more media communities.
This is an experiment I’d love y’all to join me in:
🧵 reboot in substack threads
Threads is a new private space for community and conversation among Reboot subscribers. To join, just download or update the Substack app, then tap on the second tab at the bottom. If you have the app already, click here.
There, you’ll see a Reboot Thread where our contributor team will crowdsource microdoses, host open threads, share recent reading, too-spicy shitposts, and everything else that doesn’t fit neatly in a weekly essay—kind of like a Twitter feed or group chat just for our community. You can react and reply from the app and get notifications for new updates.
Reboot is one of just a few publications with early access to this new feature. It’s still very much evolving, and its roadmap is directly shaped by our early feedback. Since y’all are the most thoughtful people on technology I know, I’m especially keen to hear your thoughts and questions—just comment or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
P.S. If you’re having trouble accessing Threads, you might want to force quit and restart the app or check out the FAQ.
Scattered readings on designing online social spaces:
The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs and Seeing Like A State by James C. Scott are not about the internet, but still deeply inspiring about the value of bottom-up, emergent building.
I blame 50% of Twitter’s problems on context collapse and the other 50% on the pursuit of profit.The latter is still near-inescapable in today’s economic system, but it’s still worth reading danah boyd and Alice Marwick’s OG papers on what context collapse is and how it impacts online identity formation.
Platformer by Casey Newton (super nuanced platform reporting) and New_ Public (inspiring social infrastructure case studies) are two must-read newsletters.
Twitter and Tear Gas by Zeynep Tufekci came out in 2013, but is still the authoritative book on the failed promise of social media for social revolutions. I was especially drawn to her analysis of different kinds of capacity: narrative, disruptive, and institutional. Tufekci also revisits these ideas in a recent NYT op-ed, “I Was Wrong About the Power of Protests.”
“The Virtues of Moderation” is a long but awesome paper that dives deep into the human stuff—moderators, norms-setting, and more—in a comparative analysis of Wikipedia, Reddit, the LA Times community, and Metafilter.
If you ignore the headline about Clubhouse (rip), this article is still good on the difference between creator-centric and more horizontal community platforms.
“Protocols, Not Platforms: A Technological Approach to Free Speech” on the most ‘decentralized’ vision for content moderation. V provocative.
Other Internet’s work on squad wealth and headless brands first got me thinking about new kinds of decentralized media communities and ~building stuff with your friends~. It stands with or without the crypto part!
Link dump over for now. If you want more—or to share your own—I’ll see you in Threads. Our team is all psyched about using this to have more casual conversations with the community, and hope you are too.
— Jasmine & Reboot team
I obviously work at Substack and feel better being upfront about it than not.
Nobody at Substack has ever asked me to use Reboot to test features or use certain strategies, nor do I receive any financial/professional rewards for doing so, nor do any of my employers vet what we post. There are Substack organizational stances I agree with and ones I don’t. While my work with each organization certainly influences the other—I hope in positive ways, it’s pretty rare to get to design features that directly solve your own problems—talking about Substack and using features like Threads is always an independent decision by me and the rest of the Reboot core team.
Ultimately, I’ve gotten a lot out of participating in both criticism and industry and theory and practice, and am always happy to talk more about navigating this if you email me at email@example.com :)
I don’t actually really think this, but you get the point. (Or more so that context collapse is entwined with the worst kind of surveillance capitalism—ad-based platforms’ need to construct coherent user identities to sell stuff to!)