What is NewsScape..? - update January 2022
NewsScape is an information engineering project with the aim of organising Facebook content - and then the internet at large - by topic channels. It started way back in1994 at the dawn of the internet with infoHIGHWAY - and even then it was obvious that the coming information Tsunami was going to pose entirely new challenges for all media. NewsScape does not set out to be an encyclopedia; it is a federation of topic channels where friends, acquaintances and strangers can gather to engage in an informal exchange of ideas and opinions on random topics. Some posts are posed "contentiously" in order to wake up the discussion, and some are unashamedly designed as crowd-pleasers.
Each topic channel is a Facebook page (not group, although channels may also have associated groups) which follows a simple and obvious nomenclature. Channels can be added (or removed) at any time as required.
However, during 2021 Facebook/Meta gave up all pretence to "free speech" and has become impossible to trust and use as a basis for any sort of investment of time and effort. Facebook's holding company, "Meta", is only interested in being a consumer advertising platform that exploits the knowledge of its users demographics and personal interests that it steals using all manner of spyware techniques. Alongside this, the fanatical agents of the so-called "cancel culture" now eagerly cruise the web and social media looking to cause trouble with Advertisers - whose commercial are posted near any type of content that triggers the disruptors with ideas and opinions that are not to their liking. The marketing departments of advertisers are then harassed until they decide that it's too much trouble to get involved in the free speech debate, so they take the line of least resistance and removes their advertising. Facebook responds by simply censoring all faintly contentious content that is reported by the disruption squads.
Facebook manipulates the prevailing opinion and tenor of the community to set an overall "agenda" by controlling which comments are fed into whose newsfeeds (and when). This is manipulative psychology in the most sinister traditions of Josef Goebbels - and the other great propagandists of history. The addictive dangers of social media are becoming better understood, and may eventually be subject to regulation, but users still seem wiling to be humiliated and treated like imbeciles - just to maintain access to their "fix". This process also gradually erodes the self-respect of users, who find themselves meekly acquiescing to absurd impositions that they know very well are outrageous infringements of basic rights, just in order to be allowed to stay in touch with friends as part of the "community".
A Facebook kangaroo court imposes penalties ranging from short term suspension to total cancellation of users and content that expresses opinions they describe are contrary to "community standards". This Kangaroo court does not answer questions or enter into any sort of debate - and has driven users and regulators to despair by simply refusing to engage - but now a £2bn class action is being launched to get their attention by competition lawyers.
Of course, NewsScape is not alone in having working this out! And there are now many disillusioned former Facebook users who have been driven out as FB sets out to Balkanise its opposition using classic divide and rule tactics. Communities of free speech advocates exists on emerging platforms like Telegram and Rumble - without anything like the reach of Facebook or Twitter. Users will also have to be aware that free speech is a multi-edged sword, and that although you may have escaped the clutches of Mark Zuckerberg and his armies of AI robots who want to steal your soul and sell it to advertisers, you will encounter other types of bad guys that are lurking to take advantage of the unwary and lure you into all manner of cryptocurrency ponzi schemes. Cavet emptor, as ever.
ANYWAY, the simple, elegant, and intuitive taxonomy of NewsScape is not dependent on Facebook, so we will develop our own platform.
The present "root page" lives at https://www.facebook.com/newsscape/ and there was a rolling directory at https://www.facebook.com/pg/newsscape/about/?ref=page_internal - but Facebook has been moving its goalposts again, and has apparently removed this feature. There is a suspicion that this may have been done to specifically limit the ability of NewsScape to take advantage of Facebook to propagate itself without paying for advertsing. Whatever - we have been planning to set up a parallel publishing platform and move away from the precarious dependency on Facebook, but that project will have to wait until we can find a sponsoring partner.
As with a classic DNS (Domain Name System), there is no practical limit to the number of these channels (or "addresses"). The skill of NewsScape curation will be to minimise the number of channels required to create an overall information browsing environment - ie the "NewsScape" - that can collect the most significant content in the smallest number of channels. As well as topics, channels can be established on the basis of location - eg Isleofsark.newsscape; Chelmsford.newsscape etc
The simple idea is that channel curators and editors share items they find scattered around the web (not just facebook) into the relevant channel or channels. Some items will be relevant to more than just the obvious topic - such as the digest channels of theweek and thebestof. The non-facebook platform design has always included broad scope for smart advertising, where the user retains control of personal data and is rewarded for attention and participation.
We hope to keep this process substantially human-influenced. There are many automated algorithm-driven search, scrape, gather and compilation systems - which have some value, but all tend to lack the spontaneity or "managed serendipity" of results where humans are involved.
The ability of the human brain to parallel process disparate ideas and information - whilst also remaining open to eclectic suggestions and distractions in a rich content/target environment - is something we are keen to reflect in the way that NewsScape operates.