The Somewhere Great group.
Photograph: Courtesy of Somewhere Excellent

What do we sacrifice when we decide into social media? We exchange anywhere from a modicum to a enormous chunk of our mental wellbeing — not to mention a large total of privateness — in buy to link, to acquire the dopamine hurry of remaining rather “liked” on-line. Platforms like Twitter and Fb operate on users’ inner thoughts of inadequacy and loneliness, furnishing an infinite, scrolling loop of aspiration, virtue signaling, and doom. Our existences on-line are by nature incomplete and intended for usage. Is it feasible to bring your entire self to a social-media system? Is it achievable to get the link and discussion we crave devoid of the doomscroll?

Somewhere Very good, a new social system released past thirty day period, intends to find out. The application is like nothing at all I’ve noticed right before it is voice-recording dependent, for one particular. It not only requires customers to agree to a set of group suggestions, it also invitations them to collaborate and make suggestions to grow and increase them. What is most putting, on the other hand, is the way it is made.

There are no followers, no likes, no particular feeds or profiles outside of the pretty principles: name, pronouns, place, and picture. Now, the app includes 4 “worlds” that people can opt for to enter: Artist Rituals, Communal Treatment, Radical Library, and Deep Discourse. Each individual working day, a new prompt is launched for every single entire world, and users can report their individual responses and/or reply to the responses of some others. This is all represented in the sort of a path that curves back and forth across your smartphone display. And it was designed by Annika Hansteen-Izora.

Somewhere Good’s most important feed.
Photo: Courtesy of Someplace Fantastic

Hansteen-Izora, who makes use of they/she/he pronouns, describes themself as a queer artist, writer, and designer. Her multidisciplinary creative output features artwork directing, poetry, a newsletter, memes, user working experience and web layout, a ebook titled Tenderness: An Honoring of my Black Queer Joy and Rage, and far more. His get the job done expands our imaginations to what the online can be, and his have personal use of social-media platforms exemplifies that.

Hansteen-Izora spoke with us about how Somewhere Excellent came to be and how to use the world wide web for nourishment, community creating, and possibly even private development.

How are you carrying out? This thirty day period has been specifically powerful, in the globe and by extension on the net. 

It is so much intensity following depth. This calendar year, I’ve been definitely hoping to disengage from the quickly sound of social media and basically give myself some time to approach away from the display. So I’ve been form of offline this week, just keeping every thing.

When you have been on the web, has Someplace Good been a source of convenience for you?

It has permitted me to go to a area that feels quiet and feels like it is relocating at a slower pace. So considerably of social media is, by layout, condensed information and facts — it’s manufactured to be bite-measurement. So the world-wide-web feels speedier paced. It is been really comforting to go to a place where by I’m continue to conference my motivation to connect with individuals and converse with people today, but in a digital realm that’s slower, and that is making it possible for for a little bit extra vulnerability, a little bit extra contemplation, and an skill to keep uncertainty.

I have read you use the time period digital backyard garden in describing your perform. What does that suggest?

I comprehend electronic gardens as on-line areas where numerous persons are coming with each other to are inclined to seeds, which can be comprehended as written content. The container that digital gardens are held in is a commitment to sustainability, pluralism, and cyclical development. It entails adaptation and a lifestyle of learning.

How have been you equipped to carry alongside one another your tech and structure skills with your fascination in building local community? Did one come very first? 

I grew up in a residence that was also holding various intersections at the identical time. My household has truly deep roots in Black artistry and Black art communities, and my dad was actually into know-how, genuinely into gaming. I could see that the two issues could exist at the same time. When I was increasing up, the web was this sort of a huge way that I accessed Black neighborhood, Black knowledge, queer knowledge, the queer archive. As my partnership with my artwork deepened, the world-wide-web was often a software facilitating that.

Social media is designed to make us all consumable, which interprets into turning folks into brand names. Makes have a person single message, and they’re often signaling that a single certain, digestible message. I’m a multifaceted artist I’m a designer across website and product and model. I’m also a writer, I’m a poet, I’m a multimedia artist. In purchase for the internet to be a resource that introduced a sense of discovering and pleasure, I had to hack it in a way that would allow for that multiplicity. Which is how I solution staying on the internet proper now.

An additional expression you’ve typically made use of in discussing your work is interdependence. How do you cultivate interdependence, and in which did you to start with come across the strategy?

I came to that time period through discovering about disability justice as an individual who is neurodivergent and who has located that I just cannot do all this by itself. I don’t feel that we’re intended to navigate our lives solo. That is a narrative that Western lifestyle, specifically when it is at the intersection of capitalism, really loves to keep — the narrative of hyperindividuality. I was in a area with my mental overall health in which I really needed aid. Interdependence provided a route that honored the care of the self together with the treatment of many others and confirmed how people two are essentially in loving romance. Mariame Kaba suggests, “Everything worthwhile is performed with other persons.” I genuinely stand by that. A single of the bravest and most revolutionary matters we can do is treatment for one particular another.

How does the application align with all of these personal beliefs and procedures of yours? 

On Somewhere Good, we layout all over relationship. So there are no followers, likes, adverts, or algorithms suggesting material. There is no endless scroll. We actually required to check out what it would glimpse like if we developed a social-media platform that moves against hierarchy and building persons into manufacturers. We’re also deeply considering about what care and protection necessarily mean when producing on line connections that experience far more tender and significant and not so transactional and extractive. We have a established of community pointers, which is a dwelling doc that our buyers can incorporate recommendations to. We’re thinking about what it would glance like to make a moderation system that doesn’t really feel carceral, that basically can be rooted in some of the rules of transformational justice. And we’re imagining about quotation, guaranteeing that creators and people today on the platform are effectively credited for their contributions.

You have been a significant aspect of the inception of the app and the structure of it — could you converse about the place it came from and the structure course of action?

I was earlier on the team at Ethel’s Club, a wellness platform for persons of shade launched by Naj Austin, who is also the CEO of Someplace Superior. When the pandemic arrived, we necessary to shift to an on the net technique. We established about imagining, What would it search like to have an on-line system that is about significant relationship, that is also about putting marginalized people today to start with and not dealing with them as an afterthought?

I led design across all visual touchpoints. I was pondering about what joy seems like to me on the online, and I was brought back again to earlier conceptions of playful on the net areas: Neopets, Club Penguin, Microsoft Paint, people early chaotic times of MySpace, custom-made Tumblr weblogs. When I assume about the layout of social-media apps nowadays, it is incredibly clean and pretty minimalist, lending alone to digestibility. The style of Someplace Excellent roots by itself in playfulness and maximalism with nuance. We’re really colour driven. We have a set of icons that were all established by artists of colour. We provide in collage do the job. I preferred this style and design to feel like you’re arriving at a playground.

Can you discuss about the determination to make Someplace Very good audio based mostly and the intention behind it?

Our first values are rooted in deepening link, and in honoring and supporting Black expression. Oral custom is deeply rooted in Blackness. There is a specified vulnerability in audio, and we required to take a look at that intimacy. There is a deepened link to our selfhood with voice. There is a nuance that voice captures that frequently isn’t identified in other mediums, and a deeper notice.

Black society runs the internet, but it is not highly regarded. It isn’t valued it is not cited. So it is a potent matter, creating from a area that is honoring Black expression on line, when it is had so considerably of an influence but not a lot of regard and not a great deal of care bordering it.

What position do you see Someplace Good actively playing in the larger social-media landscape? What do you dream of for the app’s upcoming?

I’m psyched to see the strategies that we can assistance people in connecting with more intention and tenderness, and the methods that we can stimulate people today to learn, archive, and hook up to just one an additional as resources of information. We’re also considering more about connecting the on the net encounter to IRL ordeals, and what the potentials are in an on the web system that is wondering about IRL link as very well. I’m really psyched for what that can look like.

I enjoy that — on most social-media platforms, the issue is to maintain you on the internet. By mother nature, they are not able to motivate you to are living a daily life outside of that. 

Exactly. In a single of our early checks, we had a “weekend mode.” That meant that the application was not accessible on the weekend, and as a substitute there was a monitor that informed users “we are not in this article. Love your practical experience outdoors of this application.” While we really do not have the weekend display screen any more, we’re considering about what a social platform seems like when it really does not want its users to be on it continuously and as an alternative is a instrument that can assistance their life off of the app as well.