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CIVIL INTERNET PROJECT
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Potential Outcomes

  • This inspires a new platform and/or internet culture.
  • This inspires existing platforms to foster good content and behavior, through partial or full alignment with these values.
  • This helps people understand why their relationship with the internet feels tense.
  • This helps people imagine a better way to custody the greatest knowledge and communication tool in human history.
  • This helps remind people there is as much (if not more) good in the world than bad.
  • This helps start constructive conversations.
  • All of the above.

Conceivable Reactions and Misunderstandings

  • This vision is pollyannish
  • This vision will be unpopular

There are way too many good humans, either deceased or still living, who clearly see and illuminate the wisdom in humanity’s moral arc. As one of the most important communication tools of all time, the internet needs a home (ideally, many homes) that align-with and support this millennia-old trajectory.

  • This vision is too hard to enforce and uphold

Hard problems are fascinating. This vision believes deeply in people coming together with curiosity, creativity, and commitment to finding solutions to hard problems, especially when motivated by the long-term wellbeing of others.

  • This vision is too serious
  • Humor is harmless
  • Entertainment is harmless
  • Mockery is a part of life

Terrible things happen when humans take themselves too seriously. This is the pretext of religions and wars (among other things). On the other hand, there is equal harm in taking nothing seriously, and/or compulsively distracting ourselves. This vision aims to establish a middle ground, holding a few careful convictions, and creating a place for them to flourish. Entertainment, humor, and mockery all exist on a continuum of somewhat-helpful and soothing to extremely-unhelpful. This vision wishes to stay far from the latter. The soothing effects of humor, entertainment, and mockery are fully acknowledged and by no means in dispute here, however, this aims to foster curiosity and community separately from those aspects of our nature.

The internet’s capacity to deliver jokes and entertainment is obviously robust and will continue to be. This vision is a complement, not a replacement, for all of that.

  • This feels too fragile and sensitive

On the contrary, this vision believes deeply in the power of critical analysis, reflection, and argument. It believes in the ability for ideas to compete with one another and survive on their own merit, assuming those ideas are anchored in a good faith effort to leverage objective truth – be it science, vigorous empirical observation, or clearly established consensus. Without a shared objective bedrock, idea competition is destined to fail before it starts.

Honest expression of ideas includes proving other ideas wrong, which is essential, and not something to take personally. This is not about being the author of a winning or losing ideas – which is ultimately irrelevant. This recognizes all sides of argument are required to make progress. This is about sharing the journey to discover. This can all be done with great mutual respect and care.

Steps to Grow

  1. Publish this document at civilinternet.org for public consideration and comment.
  2. Collect feedback. Refine the project.
  3. Add resources to the map (ongoing).
  4. Develop map management processes – categories, search, review, moderation.

Version History

  • 10/29/2022 – Initial draft published
  • 11/5/2022 – Moved to civiliinternet.org
  • 11/9/2022 - Map launched

Project Todo List

  • Add third-party references/quotes to "problem" page
    • Meg
    • Econtalk
    • 11/7 screenshot
  • Map categories:
    • People
    • Websites
    • Specific pieces
  • Ideas:
    • Profiles
  • Next citizens
CIVIL INTERNET PROJECT
About: