Sharing something better

By Justin Krause

Social media is broken. It’s addictive. It’s time-consuming. It elevates bots, trolls, and fake news. It violates privacy. It uses algorithms and AI to manipulate our “engagement.” It’s self-promotional. It’s infantile.

But the solution isn’t to tune out. There is awesome stuff on the internet — intelligent reporting, funny memes, and stories that enrich our lives. And there is important stuff; as citizens, we have an obligation to at least partially pay attention.

Social media should connect us, but the “cloud” is looking pretty stormy at the moment.

Social media is broken, but it’s still important. We need to find new, better ways to share on the internet. On a recent break, I took a stab at this problem. I built something (for myself) to help me consume social media in a healthier way.

The idea was simple:

  • Connect to Twitter to find links being shared by people I follow
  • Group these links and the commentary around them
  • Send a daily email digest of top-shared links and commentary

This allowed me to stop checking Twitter all the time, but still see the big ideas. My colleague Tom tried it, and we decided to develop it into a product anyone can use. We’re calling it Mendo.

The solution is like a personalized Reddit or Hacker News, where you choose who gets to vote, crossed with a whitelisted Twitter, which cuts out noise from anonymous trolls. And grouping-by-link and sorting by most-shared has major benefits:

  • You don’t have to check it every hour. The best things queue up.
  • It’s less self-promotional. It takes more than one person to elevate content.
  • It puts commentary together, all-in-one place, so your brain doesn’t have to context-switch so frequently.
  • It elevates richer content, like longer-form reporting or interactive media; it reduces “soundbites” and noise.
  • It puts the people you choose in charge of what goes to the top of your queue and merits your attention — not algorithms, voting rings, noisy brands, or anonymous curators.
When it comes to news and information on the internet, we need to rally around humans we know and trust–not trolls, bots, algorithms, anonymous curators, or dogs (cartoon via Paul Steiner, New Yorker, 1993)

It’s sharing for humans: slower, more insightful, and more personal.

Mendo is an iOS app and a daily email. What you see is determined by who you follow, so we put together some commentators related to topics like economics, politics, tech, and urbanism. These groups give you a good idea of what you’ll see in Mendo if you follow certain people.

This is Mendo’s iOS app. See top links recommended and discussed by the people you choose.

Everyone is tired of apps, social media, and the internet in general. I’m exhausted, personally. But Mendo can help. It surfaces what’s important, and it tells you when you’ve seen it all. You understand the algorithm, and you’re in control of your queue.

Social media is broken. It’s time to start sharing some new ideas.

Visit mendoapp.com to try Mendo — it’s 100% free and takes about one minute to get started. And feel free to share the app, or this post, on any broken platform!