The Secret to a Better Internet? Post Less, Chat More.

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Compare that to life on the feed, where every post represents performance based on a specific and invisible user perspective on a platform that they don’t fully understand.

The blessing and curse of chat has always been that conversation is difficult to monetize – it will be more than a feed ad as an interruption. This caused our most important and useful conversations to be carried over to features stuck in the broader context of sponsorship – AOL, Gmail, Facebook, your favorite game – and left the rest of the market to specialize (Campfire, Slack, Signal) or fight for scrapbook … These services, most of which are incompatible with each other, come and go, leaving our common return channel in a state of ever-changing fragmentation and confusion. It is also difficult to improve your chatting experience. Services may work better than others or have several additional features. But the best chat service, as always, is the one you don’t need to think about.

We chatted before the channels started and we will chat anyway when they are gone. In the meantime, making your online experience more enjoyable can be as simple as posting less and chatting more.

The new perspective on online communication is making chatting a more central role. Younger readers and especially gamers may be familiar with Discord, an application in which a quarter of a billion people reside on self-built servers ranging in size from a few people to thousands, divided into channels as needed. (It’s especially popular for the voice chat feature that players use when playing co-op.)

Discord, which has been more or less understandable to an IRC user since 1988, can be seen as an attempt to create a social network that ultimately obeys chat. Increasingly, you can see online communities, fandoms, and entire websites directing users to the affiliate Discord server; Reddit may be where many new online groups start, but Subreddit Discords is often the source of real energy. Cryptocurrency and the NFT world in particular have adopted Discord, which helps ensure their decentralized efforts meaning places and memberships.

This is not the only way that chat seems to be the future. Two weeks ago, Mark Zuckerberg walked through virtual environments talk about how the next Internet will allow us to interact closely with all people from all over the world in ways that feel immersive, direct and personal, rather than repulsive and awkward. His speech was futuristic, but his description of this idealized new world seemed terribly familiar. Spiritually metaverse does not publish. This is a chat.


For Context is a column that explores the boundaries of digital culture.

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