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It's the near future, humanity has discovered a new element in the asteroid field that allows faster than light travel and communication through a brute force methods that's largely handwaved away at the moment.

The governments of the world decide that if humanity is to avoid simply bringing its existing conflicts into space that human colonies should be kept small, highly specific, and widely spaced.

This leads to the founding of thousands of small colonies on hundreds of planets, with each colony consisting only of like minded people, on the basis that segregation is the best way to prevent conflict (if you think exactly like your neighbors you will be less likely to go to war with them). Essentially they're themed colonies like in a children's cartoon. Space China Town, Space Little Italy, Space MIT, Space Wild West. And so on.

Colonies are essentially built by converting colony ships into cities or towns. So colonies advanced technology but absolutely no infrastructure beyond their immediate boundaries.

Almost all communication is done wirelessly as there are no landlines. It's possible for one person in a particular colony to livestream their sensations to an audience in real time. Sight, sound, smell touch. It's almost impossible to tell that you aren't experiencing these things yourself. But only within the bounds of that colony's wireless network.

To communicate with another colony on the same planet the data would need to be sent via satellite link.

Satellite data uplinks are tightly controlled due to limited bandwidth. So non-essential transmissions are often downgraded or compressed before transmission, and are transmitted at scheduled intervals rather than in real time. So someone in another colony might only get video and audio data from the above transmission. Even basic text and picture information may have a time delay on it. So it might take an hour for a blog post to become available in another colony on the same planet.

The problem is even worse with colonies on planets in the same solar system. Non-essential video and audio quality are downgraded even more, and text content might take 2 or 3 hours before its transmitted via satellite due to the uplink schedule.

For colonies on other planets there might be a delay of several days, and video and audio might be down graded below modern day SD video\audio.

If you're on a spaceship or a space station you might not get the data at all, only a notification that there was some new data that you could choose to download if you had spare bandwidth.

It's the equivalent of someone in New York livestreaming in 8K to other New Yorkers, someone in Texas getting a 4K video an hour later, someone in London getting a 420P video the next day, and someone in Africa getting an SMS message to say that a new video is online at 320 maybe some time later that week.

How would this vast disparity in when you get content and what quality it is effect social media production and use?

Would the future Youtube be more like Tiktok than Nexflix because everyone wants to make their content available as widely as possible and so keep things as brief as possible, would people revert back to plain text, or would we see people living in social media bubbles where they only consume high quality local media?

Overall, the society in this universe is 5 minutes into the future from us. Faster than light travel, but most other things are just iterative upgrades of today.

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    $\begingroup$ Taking all day to download a poor-quality song from a website that took ages to load? You've just recreated the year 2000, that's all. The good old days of MySpace and Limewire. $\endgroup$
    – Cadence
    Apr 23 at 22:48
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    $\begingroup$ The year 2000, except everyone locally gets a VR experience that makes them feel like they're standing front row center at a concert, and by the time you get to a remote location it's a tweet of the lyrics. $\endgroup$ Apr 24 at 12:57
  • $\begingroup$ Is this story going to be a allegory and critisism to the current social media information coccon $\endgroup$
    – Faito Dayo
    Apr 24 at 16:57
  • $\begingroup$ @AaarghZombies that's a hilarious image. You are allowed to answer your own question, you know ;-) $\endgroup$ Apr 25 at 8:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Starfish Prime, I was hoping to crowd source some serious ideas about how this might create an information ghetto, or how people might innovate around it. $\endgroup$ Apr 25 at 19:56

2 Answers 2

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with each colony consisting only of like minded people. . . if you think exactly like your neighbors you will be less likely to go to war with them.

Most social media goes on within each colony. The people in Cowboy Colony do not want to see livestreams from Witch Colony. They cannot relate.

To communicate with another colony on the same planet the data would need to be sent via satellite link. . . So non-essential transmissions are often downgraded or compressed before transmission

It is more sensible to simply put a data limit on transmissions between colonies. Or charge for transmissions. This model already existed in the past.

So it might take an hour for a blog post to become available in another colony on the same planet. Text content might take 2 or 3 hours

This is not a big deal. It is in line with reading a blog from someone in a different timezone. Even if the blog was 1 week late it doesn't matter since blogs are a form of recreation. You are perfectly safe if you read last week's blog today, provided your friends are also one week out of date.

How would this vast disparity in when you get content and what quality it is effect social media production and use?

Not really. Social media is (a) recreational. It is rarely time sensitive. It is also (b) social. You mostly want to hear from your friends and about events relevant to you. These events only occur at your colony and no the other ones.

Would the future Youtube be more like Tiktok than Nexflix. . .

Every colony has its own server. Stuff that is especially popular (10 million hits) gets duplicated to other nearby servers. Otherwise you cannot watch a 500 hit blog from the Cowboy Colony if you live in Witch Colony.

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This is a largely philosophical exercise, but thinking through this and relating to your comments below:

I was hoping to crowd source some serious ideas about how this might create an information ghetto, or how people might innovate around it.

...questioning whether people are happier in a mono cultural environment where there aren't people with opposing ideas to conflict with. You'd need to nerf the internet in order to keep people more segregated than they are today.

I think the assumption that people wouldn't consume the low-rez content at the same rate as the high-rez is a sound one. There is plenty of data around the impatience of current audiences (like this article states from NY Times). It stands to reason then, that people would more frequently consume the content that was sent from nearest to them. However, I don't think that naturally results in a "mono cultural environment" as you've put it. My reasoning is below.

Putting the Genie Back in the Bottle

When moving to space the ideals and beliefs, prejudices and societal struggles the humans had before their colonization will still be present. Grouping "like minded people" will only concentrate the strength of those beliefs, prejudices and struggles. The lack of speedy information sharing is likely to impact knowledge of current events, but seems unequipped to address the propagation of those more philosophical and societal concerns. If only the local audience can see the high-rez version of a hateful internet rant that might contain the "damage" of that rant to one colony. However, there's no reason to think there wouldn't be hateful rants in each of the colonies, saturating all audiences with high-rez access to the same rhetoric that sowed conflict on the planet.

The end result seems to be individual "radicalized" echo chambers in each colony and a very difficult populace to govern.

Information Continues to Spread

As for innovating around it - if only those nearby can get the high-quality version of the resource, I expect you'd get a number of "re-creators" who reenact or otherwise copy the clever or engaging content that they received as low rez. They would be the ones taking the time to download the low rez data to mine it for controversy and entertainment content. They'd take the tweet version of a political speech and fill in the blanks, creating a new speech. This would allow them to get the fame/engagement in their area, and their surrounding audience still has access to those off-colony ideas and beliefs. We see this currently with media companies like 5 Minute Crafts scraping and re-creating content from indie creators and propagating it to their audiences whole cloth. We see it historically in cases like the Titanic when one or two verifiable details are "spun" into whole news articles and retellings around those core known facts.

Additionally, you might get a number of "re-senders" where someone in a space station on the edge of the high-rez zone can re-send, which effectively increases the range of the high-rez zone. This would be more akin to torrent hosting, where there is a drive to share/host the content but not a lot of personal gain for the resenders. This too would ensure a larger audience still has access to those ideas and beliefs.

Considering these innovations you'll quickly have re-creators and re-senders spouting that echo chambered rhetoric to their respective colonies and ending up in the same conflicts once again.

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  • $\begingroup$ Interesting, I hadn't considered some of that. I wasn't really looking to take this in a "Hate\Rant" direction, more that it was less less convenient or less rewarding to interact with people who thought differently from you, so content that went viral in one location wouldn't necessarily even be accessible in another, or might no longer be relevant when it did. Sort of like how most Americans don't access the Chinese internet because they can't speak Chinese. $\endgroup$ May 6 at 18:18
  • $\begingroup$ I see. I took it that direction due to the "avoid simply bringing its existing conflicts into space" mention. Certainly not everything would be hate ranting - but whatever underlying beliefs caused those conflicts seem like they would still be present, and still be propagated. As far as reward - that would depend if re-senders and re-creators have societal, monetary or other rewards for doing those actions. If they're doing the work, then the average person wouldn't experience any inconvenience in interacting with those who think differently. $\endgroup$
    – SNSAD
    May 6 at 20:02
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, the ideologies would still be present, but if they were shared ideologies then they wouldn't promote conflicts. Let's just say that people have the ability to communicate but it's inconvenient or less enjoyable for them to do so with people far away, so it happens less, allowing ideological bubbles to be maintained because ideas aren't mixing. $\endgroup$ May 7 at 8:48
  • $\begingroup$ I understand your premise. I disagree with the technological constraints you've outlined would result in sharing being "inconvenient or less enjoyable for them to do so with people far away" due to the circumventions of re-senders and re-creators I mentioned in my answer. $\endgroup$
    – SNSAD
    May 9 at 13:26
  • $\begingroup$ Slow download speeds nerf interest in overseas content in real life. $\endgroup$ May 12 at 10:37

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