There’s been a meme circulating about “2022” sounding suspiciously like “2020, too” — and with Omicron surges and the Boulder wildfires, I can’t say it’s been an especially auspicious start to the year. Still, let’s not write the year off yet.
I’m excited to share a collaboration with four of our favorite tech newsletters: Everything in Moderation, New_ Public, Tech Policy Press, and the Information Ecologist. We each asked several of our past contributors the same question: What one idea, issue, person or event should people look out for in 2022? For Reboot’s post, we chose contributions that highlighted reasons for optimism — check out the rest of these newsletters for the full range of responses!
🔮 lookout for 2022
The person to watch in 2022 is Jennie Rose Halperin. The librarian and longtime digital community builder is the executive director of Library Futures, an organization that launched this year. As Halperin puts it, Library Futures champions the “right to equitable access to knowledge” including wifi access, fair pricing for ebook licenses, data privacy and other concerns of library workers and library patrons alike. With Halperin's thoughtful leadership, the organization has established itself in this short time as a crucial force in information and digital access.
Melissa Ryan, on disinformation:
The Disinfo Defense League has been quietly building capacity and power for a while now, "organizing to disrupt online racialized disinformation." Look out to hear a lot more about their work next year, starting with the policy platform they just released with more than 35 organizations behind it.
Paul Resnick, on content moderation:
Greater public transparency about content moderation decisions by platforms, sharing enough data to allow for public report cards that are comparable across platforms.
Dr. Carolina Are, on evolving norms around the digital rights of sex workers:
In 2022, consumers, creators, platforms and regulators are going to at the very least admit the importance of a fair, transparent and balanced governance of nudity and sexuality on the Internet. Although spaces for nudity and sex are shrinking due to FOSTA/SESTA, pressure from payment providers and platforms' PR damage control, the backlash received by OnlyFans when the company announced it was going to ban adult content — and its almost immediate U-turn — highlighted a new understanding of the demand for online nude and sexual content, and of the dangers of banning it outright, affecting the lives and livelihoods of not only sex workers, but of users who use their body to work in digital spaces. While a solution for the regulation of various online harms will probably not be reached by 2022, we are coming to an understanding that Internet spaces cannot apply one-size-fits-all approaches to their governance without serious consequences.
Lucy James, on the potential of gaming:
Online co-op gaming as therapy, education and socialisation. I think the world of gaming and streaming has changed significantly in recent times, and if the pandemic continues to wreak devastation on our social lives, I see high potential for the mainstream conversation to shift to online gaming's importance in the toolkit of educators and clinicians for a whole host of use cases. Not without its dangers of course, but I think it could be a positive step for underlining the good the internet can still muster in an otherwise anxious time.
Ben Tarnoff, on the metaverse for office workers:
If I had to make a guess—not a prediction—I would say that of the various tech hype cycles, the metaverse is the one that’s likeliest to generate the most visible results. But we probably won’t see the mainstreaming of the metaverse through gaming, or escapism more broadly—rather, it’ll happen through the more banal vector of the white-collar workplace. Workers want WFH flexibility, managers want more control over remote workers, Zoom fatigue is real, and hybrid is a headache. For these reasons, I think VR could very well become the new cubicle, for better or worse.
Ben’s is the one item on the list that doesn’t seem especially “good” — but, good food for thought for our final prediction, Yael Eisenstat, on tech worker voices:
More tech workers will hopefully demand accountability from their leadership to employees, the public, and democracy, building on the work of so many who have exposed the most harmful business practices in recent years. Tech talent can use their voices to demand more ethical, transparent and inclusive decisionmaking or take their skills elsewhere. These are real choices and risks that everyone in the industry has to weigh, but tech workers can no longer tune out the so-called critics if they truly want to make a positive impact in the world. I am hopeful we will see more heed the call.
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Honeycomb, the data observability startup, puts an engineer on its Board of Directors — the first company to do so in the US.
Twitter permanently suspends Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Green’s personal account for covid misinformation. (Her government account hasn’t been banned.)
Not explicitly tech related, but read (and listen) to this Tressie McMillan Cottom piece on Black women in the white utopia of country music.
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💝 closing note
As a reminder, applications for our student fellowship (learn more here!) opened last week. If you know anyone who might enjoy it, we’d love if you shared it with them! We’re hosting three events where you can learn more about the Fellowship: a Values-Aligned Tech Careers Panel on Wednesday, a Q&A with Reboot Fellows on January 12th, and a Public Interest Tech Mixer on January 19th. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Finally, we’d love to know: what are your predictions? what are you excited and worried about for the coming year? Feel free to comment or reply to this email.
Shuffling our tarot decks,