Is ‘Somewhere Good’ the Foreseeable future of Social Media?

The Somewhere Great team.
Picture: Courtesy of Somewhere Very good

What do we sacrifice when we choose into social media? We trade wherever from a modicum to a significant chunk of our psychological health and fitness — not to mention a enormous volume of privacy — in get to hook up, to obtain the dopamine hurry of getting fairly “liked” on the internet. Platforms like Twitter and Facebook run on users’ emotions of inadequacy and loneliness, delivering an infinite, scrolling loop of aspiration, advantage signaling, and doom. Our existences online are by nature incomplete and supposed for intake. Is it achievable to carry your whole self to a social-media platform? Is it feasible to get the relationship and conversation we crave with out the doomscroll?

Somewhere Great, a new social system released past month, intends to discover out. The application is like almost nothing I’ve observed in advance of it is voice-recording dependent, for a person. It not only necessitates customers to concur to a set of local community suggestions, it also invitations them to collaborate and make strategies to extend and make improvements to them. What is most striking, on the other hand, is the way it is built.

There are no followers, no likes, no private feeds or profiles past the pretty fundamental principles: title, pronouns, locale, and photograph. Now, the app includes four “worlds” that users can opt for to enter: Artist Rituals, Communal Care, Radical Library, and Deep Discourse. Every single working day, a new prompt is released for each and every planet, and consumers can report their possess responses and/or reply to the responses of some others. This is all represented in the form of a path that curves back and forth across your smartphone screen. And it was made by Annika Hansteen-Izora.

Somewhere Good’s main feed.
Photograph: Courtesy of Someplace Very good

Hansteen-Izora, who uses they/she/he pronouns, describes themself as a queer artist, writer, and designer. Her multidisciplinary artistic output involves art directing, poetry, a newsletter, memes, user encounter and world-wide-web design and style, a reserve titled Tenderness: An Honoring of my Black Queer Joy and Rage, and additional. His function expands our imaginations to what the online can be, and his very own individual use of social-media platforms exemplifies that.

Hansteen-Izora spoke with us about how Somewhere Superior arrived to be and how to use the net for nourishment, community building, and quite possibly even personal expansion.

How are you executing? This thirty day period has been significantly powerful, in the environment and by extension on the online. 

It’s so a lot depth immediately after depth. This yr, I have been really making an attempt to disengage from the rapidly sounds of social media and truly give myself some time to method away from the display screen. So I’ve been kind of offline this 7 days, just keeping anything.

When you have been online, has Someplace Great been a supply of convenience for you?

It has authorized me to go to a place that feels tranquil and feels like it’s moving at a slower speed. So much of social media is, by design and style, condensed info — it’s created to be bite-measurement. So the web feels a lot quicker paced. It is been really calming to go to a space exactly where I’m continue to meeting my wish to connect with men and women and talk with folks, but in a electronic realm which is slower, and that is enabling for a bit extra vulnerability, a bit more contemplation, and an ability to maintain uncertainty.

I’ve read you use the time period electronic garden in describing your get the job done. What does that indicate?

I have an understanding of electronic gardens as on-line spaces in which a lot of persons are coming together to are inclined to seeds, which can be recognized as information. The container that digital gardens are held in is a determination to sustainability, pluralism, and cyclical advancement. It entails adaptation and a society of mastering.

How had been you ready to bring with each other your tech and style skills with your curiosity in creating local community? Did 1 arrive very first? 

I grew up in a domestic that was also keeping different intersections at the exact time. My household has truly deep roots in Black artistry and Black art communities, and my dad was genuinely into technology, truly into gaming. I could see that both equally items could exist at the same time. When I was expanding up, the online was these a large way that I accessed Black group, Black information, queer information, the queer archive. As my connection with my artwork deepened, the world wide web was constantly a instrument facilitating that.

Social media is created to make us all consumable, which translates into turning people into models. Manufacturers have one particular single information, and they are constantly signaling that one particular specific, digestible message. I’m a multifaceted artist I’m a designer throughout net and item and brand name. I’m also a writer, I’m a poet, I’m a multimedia artist. In buy for the internet to be a software that introduced a perception of understanding and pleasure, I had to hack it in a way that would make it possible for for that multiplicity. Which is how I approach getting on the internet suitable now.

One more term you have typically utilised in talking about your get the job done is interdependence. How do you cultivate interdependence, and in which did you initially come across the notion?

I came to that term via studying about incapacity justice as someone who is neurodivergent and who has located that I cannot do all this alone. I do not feel that we’re intended to navigate our life solo. That is a narrative that Western society, especially when it’s at the intersection of capitalism, really enjoys to keep — the narrative of hyperindividuality. I was in a position with my psychological wellbeing where I really necessary support. Interdependence made available a route that honored the treatment of the self alongside the care of many others and confirmed how these two are basically in loving partnership. Mariame Kaba states, “Everything worthwhile is done with other individuals.” I really stand by that. A single of the bravest and most groundbreaking factors we can do is treatment for one an additional.

How does the app align with all of these own beliefs and procedures of yours? 

On Someplace Fantastic, we design around link. So there are no followers, likes, ads, or algorithms suggesting content. There is no limitless scroll. We really wished to explore what it would appear like if we produced a social-media system that moves in opposition to hierarchy and building persons into brand names. We’re also deeply thinking about what treatment and security necessarily mean when building on-line connections that feel additional tender and meaningful and not so transactional and extractive. We have a set of local community rules, which is a living document that our users can increase solutions to. We’re imagining about what it would glimpse like to create a moderation procedure that doesn’t come to feel carceral, that really can be rooted in some of the rules of transformational justice. And we’re contemplating about citation, making certain that creators and folks on the system are correctly credited for their contributions.

You had been a large element of the inception of the application and the design and style of it — could you converse about where by it arrived from and the layout procedure?

I was earlier on the group at Ethel’s Club, a wellness system for persons of shade established by Naj Austin, who is also the CEO of Someplace Excellent. When the pandemic came, we wanted to shift to an on-line solution. We established about contemplating, What would it appear like to have an on line system that is about meaningful relationship, that is also about putting marginalized folks 1st and not managing them as an afterthought?

I led style and design across all visible touchpoints. I was thinking about what joy looks like to me on the internet, and I was brought back again to previously conceptions of playful on the web areas: Neopets, Club Penguin, Microsoft Paint, all those early chaotic days of MySpace, custom made Tumblr weblogs. When I consider about the layout of social-media applications nowadays, it is extremely thoroughly clean and really minimalist, lending by itself to digestibility. The style and design of Someplace Great roots itself in playfulness and maximalism with nuance. We’re really coloration driven. We have a established of icons that ended up all developed by artists of color. We convey in collage perform. I wanted this design and style to come to feel like you are arriving at a playground.

Can you talk about the determination to make Someplace Very good audio based and the intention powering it?

Our first values are rooted in deepening link, and in honoring and supporting Black expression. Oral tradition is deeply rooted in Blackness. There is a particular vulnerability in audio, and we preferred to check out that intimacy. There is a deepened relationship to our selfhood with voice. There is a nuance that voice captures that normally isn’t identified in other mediums, and a further attention.

Black tradition operates the net, but it isn’t highly regarded. It is not valued it isn’t cited. So it is a potent detail, constructing from a place that is honoring Black expression on line, when it’s experienced so considerably of an influence but not a great deal of regard and not a good deal of care bordering it.

What purpose do you see Someplace Good participating in in the larger social-media landscape? What do you dream of for the app’s upcoming?

I’m psyched to see the ways that we can support persons in connecting with far more intention and tenderness, and the means that we can inspire people to find out, archive, and hook up to just one one more as sources of know-how. We’re also pondering more about connecting the on the net knowledge to IRL activities, and what the potentials are in an on the internet platform that is pondering about IRL relationship as well. I’m seriously fired up for what that can look like.

I like that — on most social-media platforms, the level is to continue to keep you on line. By character, they cannot persuade you to live a life outside of that. 

Exactly. In a person of our early checks, we had a “weekend method.” That meant that the app was not obtainable on the weekend, and as a substitute there was a monitor that informed end users “we are not listed here. Delight in your expertise outdoors of this application.” While we really don’t have the weekend screen any more, we’re pondering about what a social system appears to be like like when it actually does not want its users to be on it constantly and instead is a instrument that can aid their lives off of the app as properly.

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