(Art by Gabriel Levesque)
October 10th dates my first post on the crypto, open-sourced social network Minds.com. It was the day after we heard from Google. The baby was sunset. been using Google Plus since 2013, so I guess you could say I was one of the hardcore. At one point, my poems and posts reached 400+ levels. I was a mod over at Poets of G+, the biggest poetry group in its heyday. Don't you see, it was Google Plus where I first felt free to express myself on social media. It seems strange to say that, now I've been thinking on corporate centralization, and so corporate control, of most of the internet (I should say I had, of course, been paranoid about what the internet was becoming (I expressed it as scifi tone poetry foreboding The AI) corporate control structure v decentralization < an idea more concrete.) .. The news from Google saddened me at first. I got nostalgic, for there was a time when the Plus could have been it, the anthill turned into a mountain below our feet. I got mad that Google had under-performed to such an extent. And then, I went
The central feature of Minds.com is the organizing principle of the Minds Token, the sitewide "currency" that, via boosts, can direct eyeballs to any post, or be directly gifted or traded with Minds users. Minds Tokens are tied to the small-time cryptocurrency, Ethereum. Don't get crazy, tokens are worth about fifteen cents each. One Token buys 1,000 views. The site pays out a share of Tokens everyday to its users based on several metrics of engagement with the community -- and this is important. It's a system that rewards (so, incentivizes) the good behavior that makes for a robust social media experience. The other important aspect is agency, that in the form of boosts users are offered control in how attention will fall onto their profile. This affects not only things like a post's potential longevity (great for high effort posters, like yours truly) but content discovery in the home stream. People tend to boost their best posts. It takes a bit to explain, I know, but once I got it, the elegance captured my imagination!
There's so much you could do! There's so much to be done. I was thrilled to enter Minds.com with all that I've learned over the years, with all the content I've accrued, and with my book up for sale. I thought, wow, this could be it! Gosh, O it had been so long, so long since I've tarried 'mongst the fresh cyberfolk open to connection. Because we're trying to build something new, together, and all other platforms had stagnated in their obnoxious size. Mundane. I ran from post to post, upvoting and engaging openly, knowing my wallet was filling with Tokens. Subscribers began to trickle in. I played around. I created the minds poetry group as a base to build from, and I had fun designing the banner, energized with the thought people might care.
Did they care? .. THEY WILL COME TO CARE. Kidding aside, I had many awesome interactions and at a much higher rate than on Google Plus. There is some fascinating talent, serious perspectives lurking, and soon I found myself engrossed in conversation about politics, network theory, short films, poetry, minds lore and gossip, underground software, psychedelics and more, and with a wide range of people. There are artists, there are authors and cannabis sellers, there are trolls and weirdos, coders and musicians, gun aficionados and, yes, a strain of Vietnamese bots. Yep, also a substantial right-wing presence. It's fine. It's all good! The anti-censorship ethos guiding the platform makes for an open-minded culture, which can be "unsafe" for the frail, but is the basis of collaboration, synthesis and creativity. Besides, you can freely moderate your own profile. You can block those you don't like. Not only was my engagement with others filling my wallet with Tokens, but my profile was getting visits and subscriptions too. When I did try a couple boosts, I was happy to see my posts climb in upvotes, comments and "reminds" (Minds' resharing funtion.) Very happy, in fact. In fact, I soon found I'd fallen into a state of addiction -- as quickly as falling into a hundred subscribers.
At the beginning of a dive into a new platform, it's easy to feel the rush, like in an MMO where the beginning levels melt like butter. And especially after the fall of Google Plus, Minds activity levels were seemingly, thrillingly, never-ending. Did you hear, they have 1.2 million registered users, and just raised over one million dollars in crowd-funding? That's impressive! My count filled to the brim with fresh subscribers, they were into it! I would postMy hEaRt WOULD drop t0000 seeAfter one, two hours, all I received was a dozen views. An upvote. That's it. Because Minds.com has structured their feed chronologically + boosts, attention is even and low for pretty much everyone's regular, unboosted posts. The action is in the boosts, and in the reminds. The action is in memes and long posts. After a week, now at 252 subscribers, for an unboosted post I might get ~50 views on a post, which is still not that great (although it feels, relative to others, really quite good.) .. Everything is relative. Still, my previous elation crashed, and expectations were lowered. I legitimately felt low, like I was doing something wrong. Everything started to suck. Sometimes, I'd scroll through the feed and see one person, only one, the same person, reminding things. Literally, just things. The top posts, at 400 upvotes or so, half Vietnamese, tended to stay at the top for days, and I thought, is this it? It was becoming harder to find new people of any interest. Ten Vietnamese bots subscribed to me (I heard the quarter token hit my wallet) but still, I thought, blearily, the site had me early morning addicted, and for what? Is this platform really going to survive?
Treat social media too much like a game, I don't care what platform you're on, it's going to rot your soul very quickly -- especially if your expectations are inflated. Your comments feel hollow, the connections superficial. And with Minds, the site is in a state of flux. My good nature would return when I woke up to my poem gaining 100+ upvotes. I'd have fun again, I'd comment again like a living, soul-filled, playable character. But then later, a 2k boost earned me squat on something I was proud of -- expectations adjusted. And, vision adjusted. Some days the interface was so laggy, I felt like I was wading in molasses, and but other days, the UX was brilliant, I flew through to stumble on my favorite social media post to date. Throughout, my belief in the power of the idea won out -- even as I looked around and thought maybe I was the only one. To be that excited about its potential. Then I saw others. .. Belief, captured imagination, the site had entered me so thoroughly that my mood levels, I found, had been directly mimicking the activity levels of the site.
.. yeah well. Over the top? I've been waiting for something like this. That's why it has me. After one week, I remain bullish. Seven days, 48k views and 41 posts later. I just purchased my first Minds Plus month subscription. So we'll see what happens. There's too many features I love, my themes line up too readily with the position, there's too many moments found, drawn from me, drawn from others. You can't ignore that. It's like the early days of Google Plus, but better. Every day using the site has been different, and I still believe that if enough people -- you don't even need that many -- but if enough cool people commit to build something together, amazing things are possible here on the real dark web. For now, it's time to experiment with the different ways to go about building it. It might happen, slow or fast. So, I'm watching myself fluctuate along with the platform and seeing if I can't find a way to make it all work. I'll keep you posted.
Thanks for reading .. btw if you want to know more about minds, @mindsgaming wrote you a survival guide. Come join us. Sign up. Subscribe to me. To everyone. Reshare this post, don't settle into MeWe yet, there's still time, there's still time. Post your poems in the minds poetry group. Tell people.
@authorpendragon commented: Things to remember: Minds is only nine guys, and as you arrived they were 1) handling the unexpected influx of 250,000 Vietnamese in one month, said new users needing from Minds stat everything from translation services, to protection from a vicious government, 2) dealing with Facebook banning all Minds posts, 3) outwitting an unprecedented number of spammers, many of them Vietnamese, AND 3) scaling up in a vast new upgrade, issued yesterday. Minds is extraordinary, as you are. Pellucid writing and excellent post.