Looking for a garden

Or how the public space can save the internet

Hi! Welcome to another edition of the Internet in a Telegram, a newsletter about mediums and messages by Nevoazul magazine. This is our way of sharing with you what we discover when we are online. Thank you for subscribing!

In this newsletter, we write about:

  • A new social network where infinite scrolling isn’t a thing

  • How the New York Times, against all odds, is thriving

  • One Google Docs that helps artists survive on the Internet

  • …and much more!

A normal day on the Internet | Gardens

Having little internet gardens’ where we can gather online is not new, but the concept seems to be gaining new followers. The more disenchanted you are with social media networks, the more you think about gardens - digital or the other type, the ones with wildflowers and bees. Some years ago, during a homemade dinner with my friend Emanuel Madalena - who writes the rubric "Between the medium and the message" for Nevoazul - I shared my despair on contents that the algorithm chose for me. Thinking aloud, I said something about limiting the information I consumed to my interests - obviously a mistake, and an egoist one. Emanuel was fast putting in words that I was hesitant to realize: "that would be like living in a backyard." And he was right!

Being closed in a digital backyard, where information flows in a vicious circle of friends and acquaintances, would not only be tedious but limiting for the mind and spirit. For the Internet to fulfill its potential of unity and knowledge, we need to think outside the fences that surround our home. No matter how much we nurture our private space, it's beyond our comfort - in public areas and pedestrian streets - that we can grow within a community.

Journalist Eli Pariser elaborated the idea in the article "To Mend a Broken Internet, Create Online Parks" - which he wrote for Wired earlier this month. He argues that social networks, like Instagram and Facebook, may seem like public spaces, but are not. Exponential growth is rarely a good match for healthy communities.

“Public spaces are so generative precisely because we run into people we’d normally avoid, encounter events we’d never expect, and have to negotiate with other groups that have their own needs. The social connections that run-ins create, social scientists tell us, are critical in binding communities together across lines of difference. Building a healthy community requires the careful generation of this thick web of social ties. Rapid growth can quickly overwhelm and destroy it—as anyone who has lived in a gentrifying neighborhood knows.“

Creating these online spaces requires financial resources, a fair amount of research, and real humans - people with the ability to moderate and maintain a public space - driven by the community's well-being. Still, for Eli Pariser, the secret ingredient is imagination. To build a public garden in the online world, we need to use our collective intelligence to develop our sense of creativity towards communities. Until then, let's cultivate our small digital gardens and exchange ideas with friendly neighbors. Who knows, maybe that private garden may one day be the start of a municipal park - a place where we can meet each other beyond our comfort and safe from corporative agendas.

Two weeks in three links

  • Nutshell | Slowcial Network

    I'm getting used to a new social network where there's nothing to see, except if it's Monday. You can share your thoughts with friends or even strangers, but you will need to wait to know what they were doing all week. It's almost like a mix between a social media network and a weekly weather bulletin.

    It was Bárbara, Nevoazul's creative director, who showed me this app. You may know her from the beautiful magazine layouts, or from the article "White space, black screen," which she wrote for issue 3, about how instant gratifications can hurt your creativity.

  • The (not failing) New York Times

    For decades, newspapers made a fortune selling ads. The business model was so advantageous that Rupert Murdoch described his newspaper as a "golden river." With the arrival of online, advertisers felt dazzled by the new medium's potential, and Murdoch’s river began to dry.

    In a dynamic and informative article written on the Mine Safety Disclosures blog, you get to know how the New York Times, a newspaper in circulation for over a century, managed to counter its decline and become as profitable as Spotify or Netflix.

  • Hot art tips!

    Whenever I read Naive Weekly's newsletter, I get lost in a (good) information vortex. Recently, when I clicked on an article suggested by Kristoffer, I ended up reading a fascinating interview with Everest - someone I follow on Twitter for their creative games. The interview later took me to a Google Docs, created by Everest, with tips on being an artist on the Internet.

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Inês 🌿

Want to know more about Nevoazul? Here's a quick recap :) Nevoazul is an annual magazine about how we communicate on and off the Internet. In our team, we have Inês Catarina Pinto, Bárbara Nogueira, Pedro Codeço, Isabel Sá, Pedro Oliveira, and Miguel Barbot. We are based in Porto, but you can find our magazine in cool kiosks around the world. As one of our subscribers, you have 30% off when buying any edition of the magazine. Just use the #telegrama code at checkout.