The Online Social Universe Manifesto
Human beings are fundamentally social creatures. But the world wide web was not designed to meet our social needs. When we look around at the networks we’ve created online, we see a travesty of real connection with each other—sometimes an emotional wasteland filled with failed efforts to see and to be seen, to be with and to belong.
Today, we have Facebook “friends”, Instagram influencers, LinkedIn connections, and Twitter mobs. In addition, we see more depression, anxiety, and loneliness in our society than ever before.
But if we can re-imagine the web the way it should be—not as an inter-linked store of hypertext documents, but as a place to work together and build community together—why not fashion for ourselves an online universe that is pro-social and social-first?
We evolved in a spatial world, and we thrive in 3 dimensions. Video games and MMO worlds have led the way in showing us how to build trust and culture online—and we should take their lessons seriously enough to integrate the experience they offer in fields as far away as remote teamwork and business meetings.
Our surroundings tell us about ourselves, and hold us in relationship to one another. As we work, create, and collaborate together, we need a virtual world in which to do it—not necessarily because it’s efficient, but because it’s the most human way we know to be online together.
We believe that the architecture of the web experience needs to be re-designed for online teams and communities. A healthy online universe for human beings prioritizes:
- Belonging over status updates
- Visual and auditory communication over textual communication
- Real-time interactions over asynchronous requests/responses
- Rootedness in community over fast network growth
- Hospitality over bureaucracy (e.g. login forms)
- Opportunity for human connection (& serendipity) over efficiency
- Socially meaningful surroundings over missing context or sterile environments
- Representing ourselves as avatars over having little to no representation of “me”
- Fun throughout!
The next version of the web experience should be a social universe—a place where we can see, be seen, and belong—just like our ancestors’ communities, but online.