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Nick Denton Predicts 'The Good Internet' Will Rise Again (pcworld.com) 135

Gawker founder Nick Denton argued today that the future will be rooted in sites like Reddit which involve their reader community -- even if there's only a handful of subtopics each user is interested in. "There's a vitality to it and there's a model for what [media] could be," he told an audience at the South by Southwest festival.

But when it comes to other social media sites, "Facebook makes me despise many of my friends and Twitter makes me hate the rest of the world," Denton said. And he attempted to address America's politically-charged atmosphere where professional news organizations struggled to pay their bills while still producing quality journalism. An anonymous reader quotes PCWorld: The internet played a huge role in this crisis, but despite it all, Denton thinks the web can be the solution to the problems it created. "On Google Hangouts chats or iMessage you can exchange quotes, links, stories, media," he said. "That's a delightful, engaging media experience. The next phase of media is going to come out of the idea of authentic, chill conversation about things that matter. Even if we're full of despair over what the internet has become, it's good to remind yourself when you're falling down some Wikipedia hole or having a great conversation with somebody online -- it's an amazing thing. In the habits that we enjoy, there are the seeds for the future. That's where the good internet will rise up again."
To show his support for news institutions, Denton has also purchased a paid subscription to the New York Times' site.
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Nick Denton Predicts 'The Good Internet' Will Rise Again

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  • Do me a favour (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cyber-vandal ( 148830 ) on Sunday March 12, 2017 @03:37PM (#54024477) Homepage

    This idiot is one of the people that has made the internet so unpleasant.

    • Re:Do me a favour (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Aighearach ( 97333 ) on Sunday March 12, 2017 @04:07PM (#54024627) Homepage

      Gotta agree.

      I remember back when reddit was supposed to be the "new slashdot."

      That didn't happen, so now they're going to try to be the "new good."

      And if facebook makes him despise his "friends," that really says a lot about him and the "friendships" that he has.

      I poke my head head in and see what is happening on facebook about once a year, and it is all normal stuff that those people would be doing and saying. Nothing despicable at all. Maybe just stop pretending to be friends with those people, and problem solved?

      As for, "the idea of authentic, chill conversation about things that matter," that's just a complete load of hooey. If the things matter, and the context is authentic, that isn't the time to "chill." Like, hey man, you're not going to save the world with a bong hit. What if there is authentic disagreement in the world about actions to take, and the results matter? Seems like time to get serious. If we improved the conversation to make things more constructive, why would they become "chill?" Isn't "chill" something you would only expect to experience inside a bubble with like-minded people in relaxed contexts of little import? What we need is improved arguing with potential for overlap of solutions.

      • And if facebook makes him despise his "friends," that really says a lot about him and the "friendships" that he has.

        While I'm not fan of Denton, he has a point. Not sure what his context is, but social media (not just FaceBook) seems to embolden people to express some truly awful things. I've seen more than a couple people that went from thoughtful and insightful posts to outright bigotry.

        • Not sure what his context is, but social media (not just FaceBook) seems to embolden people to express some truly awful things.

          Wow, you should swing by 4chan some time. If the one-remove remoteness of being online gives people the idea they can be assholes, add anonymity to that and you get some truly dreadful opinions being expressed.

          Oddly enough, you also get some remarkable honesty because people aren't invested in puffing up their own egos so much.

        • Maybe they were always just bigots, and you didn't know? Until you did?

          There were probably other signs.

      • Disclaimer, I mostly read Slashdot, hardly ever Reddit... and I really do not like Nick Denton.

        That said, isn't Reddit about 10x more popular (or more!) than Slashdot??

        And if facebook makes him despise his "friends," that really says a lot about him and the "friendships" that he has.

        Yes, it says that he actually has a diverse variety of friends. I have both conservative and liberal friends, so on Facebook I get a pretty constant stream of stuff I not only disagree with, but really kind of hate. But that'

        • by Baron_Yam ( 643147 ) on Sunday March 12, 2017 @06:53PM (#54025525)

          >That said, isn't Reddit about 10x more popular (or more!) than Slashdot??

          Probably. But while Slashdot is not without its faults, Reddit's designed with them intentionally.

          Community moderation by self-elected individuals (with professionals only stepping in if it looks like it could affect Reddit legally, and then only with the corporation's best interests in mind as is to be expected) means Reddit is fractured into thousands of toxic echo chambers, and discussion consists of chasing 'karma'. That in turn results in people posting 'easy karma' meme posts, agreeing mindlessly with groupthink, and no way to filter genuine discussion-driving dissent from trolling.

          But it 'works' because it's ego-driven and people eat that shit up even as it makes them miserable.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by SuperKendall ( 25149 )

            means Reddit is fractured into thousands of toxic echo chambers

            But that is the endpoint of any internet forum, when you break down anything into a small enough space the ecosystem is not toxic to the inhabitants therein.

            Just what do you think the toxic people would be doing if not readng/posting to Reddit? The answer cannot be good. There needs to be basically a cultural heat-sync to absorb truly aberrant opinion before it reaches physical manifestation.

            But it 'works' because it's ego-driven and people ea

            • Whatever makes people happy

              Happy isn't always useful, though. Echo chambers tend to make people happy, but are not useful for meaningful discussion, finding common ground with those who think differently, evaluation of new ideas, etc.

              Reddit just results in echo chambers because the voting system requires a level of conscientiousness most people simply do not have. You're supposed to vote up comments that contribute to the discussion, and downvote comments that do not contribute to the discussion. Instead people upvote things that agr

        • But that's OK because I know I'm never going to agree with everything someone thinks, and despite disagreements I still value them as friends.

          This is the truth.

          If you don't have a diverse variety of friends, I pity what must be a very isolated bubble, free of strife sure but also free of truly deep bonds.

          You're right.

        • isn't Reddit about 10x more popular (or more!) than Slashdot??

          Madonna is more popular than reddit, but that doesn't make her the new slashdot, either.

          Are nerds even supposed to be popular? Where did you get this theory?

      • Re:Do me a favour (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Dogtanian ( 588974 ) on Sunday March 12, 2017 @09:42PM (#54026285) Homepage

        I remember back when reddit was supposed to be the "new slashdot."

        Are you sure it was Reddit they were talking about? From what I remember- and commented on in this post from 2008 [slashdot.org] (i.e. when this was still recent history)- it was Digg that was getting all the hype and being spoken of as- essentially- an improved, next-generation Slashdot.

        Digg's disastrous and rapid decline into near complete irrelevance several years back (#) have pushed it off the radar to such an extent it's easy to forget it existed at all, let alone the fact that it enjoyed several years of major popularity and had been a poster boy for "Web 2.0" in its early days.

        Having checked its Wikipedia article, Reddit has been around almost as long as Digg (mid-2005 vs. late-2004). That doesn't surprise me that much- if I think about it, it's a site I'd been vaguely aware of for quite a long time. But it definitely seems that its current level of prominence is only something that's been attained in the past few years (i.e. post-Digg)- which would tie in with what I'd heard, that a lot of former Digg users moved to Reddit.

        Anyway, this isn't a defence of Digg, just an attempt to ensure it's not inadvertently written out of history- for good or for bad.

        As my linked post above makes clear, even in its early days I grew quickly disillusioned and watched it go downhill before my very eyes. And in hindsight, Digg- or its users- were some of the first to really highlight what would become many of the negative aspects of social media unleashed on the public at large that we know today. Such as the (then-hyped) "wisdom of crowds" descending into mob mentality, attention grabbing stories, manipulation and suppression, etc.

        Digg arrived around the time the Internet was moving away from being seen as something for geeks and esoteric types, even past its late-90s/early-00s "cool kids" fad-dom and was becoming something that pretty much everyone used. If it was ever meant to be something akin to "Slashdot on steroids"- and I'm not sure that it was- it quickly way beyond that into a much larger and more general-interest audience with discussions and submissions covering much wider fields of interest; basically a forerunner of where Reddit is today. By the time it over-confidently misjudged its footing and went careering over the cliff edge, Digg was- AFAICT- far, far larger than Slashdot had ever been.

        It's possible that when it originally launched in 2005 that Reddit might have been compared to Slashdot- or equally possible that you're back-projecting its latter success onto what people said about Digg! However, by the time Reddit (essentially) took over from Digg a few years back, both had gone far enough beyond Slashdot in terms of scale and audience that it didn't make sense to compare them.

        That's not a criticism of Slashdot; it's a specialist, geek-oriented site, and always was. That was just less obvious in the days when most people on the Internet *were* geek types. I don't know what its traffic's like these days, but if it seems less prominent than it used to be, that's as likely because what was once a fairly tall building in the days when the Internet was geeky remains the same size, but is now dwarfed by skyscrapers surrounding it, i.e. sites used by the type of people (i.e. the vast majority of the public) who weren't on the Internet 20 years ago!

        (#) Apparently precipitated by a major and disastrous redesign circa 2010, on top of growing competition from other sites and social media

        • Spez (reddit co-founder and CEO) commented on Digg recently. Digg's 'upgrade' to a tile format alienated the entire user base. It was the best thing that happened to Reddit.

          In my view, Reddit's greatest strength is its greatest weakness. Like you note, too many people. The plus side is a lot of them are brilliant, a lot of them are misinformed but people think they are brilliant, and a lot of them are 'salt of the earth' variety that have a habit of writing honestly. There is no shortage of content if y

          • Spez (reddit co-founder and CEO) commented on Digg recently. Digg's 'upgrade' to a tile format alienated the entire user base. It was the best thing that happened to Reddit.

            Interesting; sounds like I got that one about right then..!

            Can't judge Digg's 2010 redesign personally- I'd long stopped using it by then, and AFAICT it's been redesigned (again) from scratch since- but it does sound like they were one of the first sites to go with the tiled interface that became so common in the following years. Which makes it ironic if it drove many of its users to Reddit, since that's been criticised for a (supposedly) confusing and unforgiving text interface that at first glance looks

        • And don't you remember, long before 2008, the jokes about the new-new-slashdot?
          It was definitely already a cliche before 2002.
          I remember because this is my lucid moment before I take my meds, er, heh.

          • It was definitely already a cliche before 2002.

            I'm a newcomer- I only joined Slashdot in 2002. :-)

    • by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Sunday March 12, 2017 @04:12PM (#54024645) Homepage Journal

      This idiot is one of the people that has made the internet so unpleasant.

      One of the perennial problems with on Slashdot is that arguments can simply attack the person making them.

      The greeks noted that arguments are made from "logos", "ethos", and "pathos". "Logos" is the logical basis of your argument, "Pathos" is the emotional appeal of your argument, and "Ethos" is the character of the person making the argument.

      Thus, here on slashdot we can't discuss constitutional abuse of Kim Dotcom because he's an asshole, we can't discuss wikileaks because Assange is an attention whore, and we can't discuss CIA snooping because Snowden is a traitor.

      It's so easy to dismiss an argument out of hand just by pointing out that the person making an argument is somehow inferior.

      Nick Denton is such a completely rotten individual that this is not a valid issue that nerds should discuss or post views and opinions about.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        we can't discuss constitutional abuse of Kim Dotcom because he's an asshole, we can't discuss wikileaks because Assange is an attention whore, and we can't discuss CIA snooping because Snowden is a traitor.

        Kim Dotcom didn't violate constitutional law, Assange didn't run a state department that subverted nominally friendly countries, and Snowden wasn't responsible for any snooping programs. But Nick Denton is as guilty as anyone - and more than most - for the terrible state of internet media. It doesn't mean that his point is wrong, but it does make him a hypocrit.

      • A lot of times the issue can be addressed by referring to the argument hierarchy [nocookie.net], where lower levels are worse, higher levels are better. For a fuller exposition, Paul Graham goes into it [paulgraham.com].

        TBH sometimes the lower levels are the most fun, but the top is the most satisfying.
      • Nick Denton complaining about the rotten state of internet discourse is like Rupert Murdoch complaining about unethical journalism.

    • Re:Do me a favour (Score:4, Interesting)

      by kuzb ( 724081 ) on Sunday March 12, 2017 @04:25PM (#54024713)
      Seriously. Fuck Nick Denton. Maybe he thinks he was part of "the good internet", but the rest of us know better.

      Leg drop him again, Hulkster!
    • Funny...the lDIOT who was feeding false information, stealing videos etc, is NOW concerned about the "good" internet?
    • the good Internet never dropped. we can still pay our bills online as well as keep in touch with family & keep our careers up to date.
  • Reddit? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 12, 2017 @03:47PM (#54024537)

    Really? Reddit, the epitome of censorship and groupthink circlejerks? Only slashdot compares to that cesspit.

    And yeah, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat all suck balls too.

  • assuming Chelsea doesn't run.
    • Ds sure look like they will pivot left. Trump has a decent chance at a second term if they do.

  • The Good Internet? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by epyT-R ( 613989 ) on Sunday March 12, 2017 @03:56PM (#54024577)

    You mean the one where discriminators like race, sex, country, etc didn't matter? Where free speech reigned and all that mattered was the argument made? The one that routed around censorious assholes and their insecurities?

    Gawker? Nick Denton? Oh. So not 'that' internet after all.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      The net was never the great paradise of free speech some people seem to think it was. Back when Usenet was popular it was also moderated. Once the number of users grew it quickly became a cesspit of spam and trolling.

      So then people moved to mailing lists, also moderated, and forums, also moderated. 2ch was the first to offer anonymous posting but even then wasn't without rules and limits. 4chan, the English language clone of it, is the same, banning certain topics and behaviour.

      It's obvious why. Once you ge

      • by epyT-R ( 613989 ) on Sunday March 12, 2017 @08:32PM (#54025923)

        I never said it wasn't moderated. Usenet and the other early systems were only 'cesspools' to thin skinned idiots with bad arguments.

        I don't see that as a problem.

        I bet you would if the banned topics included your viewpoints. Therein lies the hypocrisy of modern social justice. You would not be defending that advertiser excuse either. You'd attack it as evidence of 'systemic bigotry.'

        The people upset about this generally just want to bypass the obscurity phase and broadcast their messages to a wide audience that doesn't want to listen.

        Like MLK? The suffragettes? Had they existed during the internet era, should they have been censored for speaking their minds to that 'wide audience that doesn't want to listen'? Should they have been sued or jailed? I think you need to reevaluate your politics.

      • Back when Usenet was popular it was also moderated.

        Some groups were, some groups weren't. Don't believe everything your grandpa says, kid.

  • Fuck Denton (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 12, 2017 @03:59PM (#54024595)

    Denton and Gawker played a crucial role in creating the divisive world that we now live in by pushing bullshit as journalism and pushing modern social justice cultism. I have no sympathy for him and I'm glad Gawker is dead.

    • Has he paid off his judgement? How can he afford to waste money on a NYTimes sub? He should be spending his days blowing sailors to raise funds to satisfy the judgement.

  • Pay the bills (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Sunday March 12, 2017 @03:59PM (#54024597) Homepage Journal

    The problem comes directly from the "pay the bills" mentality

    "Pay the bills" means clicks on advertizing, which translates to grabbing eyeballs and attention using any means possible.

    "Any means" has descended into outrageous and unsupportable claims intended to promote outrage or interest in the reader. Anything and everything that can make the reader outraged is fair came in the advertizing war.

    It's become so obvious that there are specific memes and word phrases which are now *avoided* because of their fake usage. "...using this one weird trick", "top ten some-trivia-thing", "such-and-so you need to know", and so on.

    Newspapers have always slanted the truth towards outrage and reader engagement a little, but with the feeding frenzy of internet it's now become a completely unhinged cage fight for reader attention.

    Complete and total lies are now allowed, rumor and innuendo can be published without vetting for accuracy, reversal of meaning and impact is commonplace.

    Many MSM articles simply report tweets that people make; and no, I'm not referring to Trump either. Some random headlines:

    Many in this county are poor and sick, and they voted for Trump. What will happen to their health care?

    It's way too soon to panic about Fed rate hikes

    Rep. Steve King warns that 'our civilization' can't be restored with 'somebody else's babies'

    Is any of this news? Which of these tells us what is happening?

    Nothing about the MSM is authentic any more, and neither is twitter or facebook. Journalistic integrity and important freedoms (speech, assembly, and press) have been swept aside in the race for readership, political correctness, and promotion of one partisan side.

    It's no wonder people are flocking to other sites.

    Current events are far less controversial than the internet makes them out to be.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      you know it was like this in old print media too. It was just harder to show to many other readers the fake news, or yellow reporting. Now it is easier to blow the whistle as it were. Same shit. Different day.

    • by Kohath ( 38547 )

      Man, you just don't understand how important it is to preach the one true politics. Why do you hate progress? Don't you know the world will end unless we save it by quoting people out of context and telling each other made up stories about the future?

      • telling each other made up stories about the future?

        This is one of the most annoying things about current "news" media. They're not telling you what happened anymore they're trying to predict (or scare you about) what might happen. CNN musing about what might happen if Horrible Evil Republican Idea #23431 is enacted is not news. Humans are terrible at predicting the future.

    • The problem comes directly from the "pay the bills" mentality "Pay the bills" means clicks on advertizing, which translates to grabbing eyeballs and attention using any means possible.

      This is why I think ad block is a moral imperative.

      I used to oppose ad-block, because I thought it was good to support websites I like (I still leave it off on some certain sites).
      Eventually I started using ad-block for practicality: until malware is kept out of ads, it's foolish to not use it. Websites with malware ads deserve to lose money, they are acting with hostility.
      Finally I now use ad-block fundamentally: turning the internet into an eyeball machine has dramatically reduced the quality. I'd ra

    • Rep. Steve King warns that 'our civilization' can't be restored with 'somebody else's babies'

      Is any of this news? Which of these tells us what is happening?

      "politician makes a public statement on X" is and always had been news. Doubly so when it's in some way controversial, stupid or outrageous.

      • Doubly so when it's in some way controversial, stupid or outrageous.

        I think it's sad anyone finds King's statement controversial. It's both common sense and undeniably true. Name a civilization that can be restored or propagated with somebody else's babies. You can't restore the Islamic Golden Age with Christian babies. You can't spread Chinese civilization with black babies. You can't preserve African culture with Japanese babies. You can't strengthen Japanese civilization with Australian aborigine babies.

        The sun rises in the east, water is wet, grass is green, western civ

  • by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Sunday March 12, 2017 @04:15PM (#54024655)

    This, the man behind the abomination that was Gawker, does not understand what's really detracting from the value of the internet. It's an overload of people (like him) looking to cash in on users that has resulted in the worst elements of the internet. Honestly, who thinks pages that pull elements from 25+ different domains are going to end up being anything but garbage looking to exploit it's users?

  • Starring Julianna Margulies. Coming this fall - only on CBS All Access.

  • The internet is better than ever.
    It is now so easy to find information on even the smallest thing it is incredible.
    People whine about "fake news". Sure, there are fake news, bullshit flying around every corner, etc... But now, you can actually check things more easily than before. I realized how much bullshit I was fed decades ago and thanks to the internet, I am now able to recognize as such. The reason I believed so much bullshit is that I simply didn't have other sources. Now, with just a few Google and

  • Doesn't seem to extend to Sir Tim Berners-Lee getting an airing on slashdot.

    https://slashdot.org/popular [slashdot.org]

  • by ooloorie ( 4394035 ) on Sunday March 12, 2017 @05:40PM (#54025101)

    And he attempted to address America's politically-charged atmosphere where professional news organizations struggled to pay their bills while still producing quality journalism. The internet played a huge role in this crisis

    What "crisis"? Newspaper corporations and giant media corporations going out of business because the cost of producing and disseminating news has fallen is not a "crisis", it's a good thing. For that matter, the abolition of a profession whose main tools for money making were monopolization of information and making deals with the wealthy and powerful is also a good thing. As for Denton and Gawker, they are instances and examples of the rotten state of journalism, and they aren't even the worst.

  • We were always assholes, now shut up asshole, if you dont like a site don't go to it, that fucking simple

  • by sethstorm ( 512897 ) on Sunday March 12, 2017 @06:36PM (#54025415) Homepage

    sites like Reddit which involve their reader community

    The future isn't with narrative-controlled places like Reddit.

  • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday March 13, 2017 @08:58AM (#54028635) Homepage

    I question what he means by "the good Internet" if it's going to be brought about by reddit, Google Hangouts, and iMessage. Maybe I'm just being an old fogey, but to me, when you say, "The good Internet will rise again," my mind jumps to a time of text-only email, Usenet, and IRC. Basically, a time when people were trying to create and use open protocols so that anyone could run a server, instead of a bunch of proprietary "social networking" sites and services controlling your experience.

    It may seem like I'm changing the subject, but to me, it's highly relevant to what he's talking about. A lot of the prior civility came from people forming their own communities on services that they were able to run themselves. One services like Facebook and Twitter, those platforms control the experience, control which posts you see and what order they're displayed in, and make decisions based on increasing engagement in order to sell advertising. The services that he cites (reddit, iMessage, Hangouts) have something in common with the old-style Internet in that they allow you to form your own communities and control your own engagement with them. One of the big differences, however, is that when you can control the service, you can keep it that way. You're reliant on Apple, Conde Nast, and Google to keep iMessage, reddit, and Hangouts in their current format, and I wouldn't bet on them being the same in 5 years. However, you're able to set up your own email, IRC, or Usenet server, and nobody can really force you to turn it into something you don't want.

    Now I'm not saying that we should all be using IRC and Usenet. Technology progresses, and we're always finding better ways of doing things. My point is, we shouldn't be relying on closed, proprietary, ad-supported apps and websites. We need new open protocols. In the same way that anyone can set up their own email service or even build their own email client and server software, we need to enable people to set up their own texting, IM, VoIP, video conferencing, social networking, and forum services. And I don't just mean, "You should be able to set up your own Slack clone," which you obviously can, but you should be able to build a Slack clone and set up a competing Slack service that then allows you to communicate with Slack users. And Facebook users. And Google users. Because they should all use the same protocol.

  • by Koreantoast ( 527520 ) on Monday March 13, 2017 @10:50AM (#54029493)

    vOn Google Hangouts chats or iMessage you can exchange quotes, links, stories, media," he said. "That's a delightful, engaging media experience..."

    Or a great way to create a media echo chamber. You know, kind of like my aunt Facebook.

    The next phase of media is going to come out of the idea of authentic, chill conversation about things that matter.

    Maybe its just me, but the only time I've ever had "authentic, chill conversation" on hot button items are when you have personal links to an individual to know that they are human even if you disagree with them on politics. Even then, that backstop might not be sufficient. There is no alternate vision laid out here for how the Internet can be great again. Instead, this sounds like just empty hope that the current situation is merely a temporary byproduct of a weird political time and that everything will just magically go back to normal.

  • ...but don't let Nick Denton distract you from the fact that in 1998, The Undertaker threw Mankind off Hell In A Cell, and plummeted 16 ft through an announcer's table
  • You want to make the Internet 'good' again? First make the 'monetization' of the users illegal; no more collection of user data to sell to marketers (or give to the government surveillance junkies). That's the easy part. The next part is nigh-unto impossible: make people be as nice to each other as if they were face-to-face. Not going to happen. Really, the only way the Internet is good for anything at this point, is if you use it in a read-only manner: use it for information (from credible sources) and may

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