Leo is the web developer/tech visionary of this project, who has been working tirelessly on the PoP framework since 2013. In his free time he watches documentaries and reads non-fiction. Yerba mate is the secret behind this Argentinian’s productivity.
Jun-E is the researcher who works on content development for PoP projects. Her interest in community empowerment drives her involvement in PoP; she also works as a freelance policy researcher in Malaysia who has covered topics from human rights to the social and solidarity economy. She loves languages but is generally too shy to speak any that she is learning.
Together they live in Kuala Lumpur with three loud cats that are perpetually hungry.
Philosophy behind the PoP framework
The problem: information gatekeepers in the internet
Gatekeeping has been defined as “the process by which the billions of messages that are available in the world get cut down and transformed into the hundreds of messages that reach a given person on a given day.” Through the tools and services they provide, large Internet companies, including Google, Yahoo, Twitter, and Facebook, exert control over pieces of information that their users will see (or not). These companies are the information gatekeepers of the Internet era.
The PoP framework is a web-based software developed by Leonardo Losoviz, which aims to break the information monopoly by linking autonomous websites and platforms together, allowing them to interact with each other and become part of a wider network composed of different communities. The PoP network has the capability to link together multiple websites such as blogs, forums, news outlets, magazines, and so on, allowing the users from each website to interact with each other, without the need to join a centralized service such as Facebook or LinkedIn.
Disintegrating information monopoly through the PoP – “Platform of Platforms”
The PoP is designed to dissipate the centralized control of information and behavior by gatekeepers, through the following considerations:
Content ownership is retained by individual websites and platforms. Instead of user data being stored in servers owned by a single powerful entity, such as Facebook or Google, content is instead spread over different websites, with respective website owners storing their own data on their own servers. This has important implications on privacy concerns, and disrupts the ease of electronic surveillance by governments that tap on data collected by big Internet corporations.
The same Internet corporations who are important gatekeepers lose their power because the design of the PoP network is such that no single entity can accumulate enough power to dictate how content publishers will use their services. If any PoP became rogue, it could be circumvented by having other PoPs aggregating the same platforms/websites. The individual websites also have full control over their affiliation with any PoP, and can choose to disengage anytime they want.
Different PoPs can aggregate the same platform, yet present different filtered results from it. The term “filter bubble” was coined to describe how algorithms employed by Internet companies to customize content for users often block out the things in our society that are important but complex or unpleasant, rendering them invisible. As such, the user is not limited to the “filter bubble” from just one gatekeeper, but can decide among many of them, and choose the one that best represents his/her interests.
On the subject of user identities, Facebook as a leading social network site defines the hegemony of a one-dimensional identity within an online social network, as evidenced by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s stance that having different presentations of self towards different people shows a lack of integrity. A user of a PoP needs to create a user account on the platform he wishes to post content to, and he can choose to have different profiles or personalities on different platforms. While all these accounts can be managed from a centralized location (eg: using OAuth), the user has the ultimate control on what personal information to display based on a platform by platform basis.
As argued by Jaron Lanier, the middle class is not economically benefitting from digital economies even though they contribute invaluable data. The primary beneficiaries of wealth generated are those who aggregate and route the data. As a solution, he proposes a two-way linking system that would point to the source of any piece of information, enabling an economy of micro-payments to take place, thus compensating anyone for their original material posted on the web. The PoP framework would enable such a system to be implemented. Each node on the network could decide to give its content for free to its aggregators, or charge a fee for it. The node could then use these proceedings to pay those users who contribute content to it.