How can we ensure a balance of power between humans and XR service providers

In the talk with Emmie Hine, the topic arose that some acts become unacceptable when the power distribution between entities becomes unacceptably unbalanced. In digital experiences, often the power balance between users and platforms seem fundamentally unbalanced but may be balanced by users’ abilities to choose to leave the platform for another.

But, digital tools, platforms, and services are becoming ever more integral to our lives. Leaving a platform doesn’t help much If the digital tools, platforms, and services are themselves essential, leaving one platform for another may not be enough to ensure a balance of power between users and providers.

What are things we can do to ensure a more equitable power balance?

One solution is to challenge the notion of a platform–explore decentralized, community-owned, and publicly operated alternatives. I’d recommend Internet for the People by Ben Tarnoff for a great explanation of the original sin of Internet privatization and ideas for how we can fix it.

The restriction of creators within predefined asset libraries by XR service providers presents a lamentable constraint on digital creativity. While purportedly streamlining content creation, this practice stifles innovation and limits the diversity of virtual experiences. It highlights broader concerns about corporate control over digital ecosystems and the commodification of creativity. To foster a truly vibrant creative landscape, XR service providers and stakeholders must advocate for open standards and collaborative frameworks that empower creators to push the boundaries of possibility and shape immersive worlds reflective of diverse perspectives and narratives.

I suppose the streamlining of a process challenges what defines innovation and creativity. The less a creator spends on one process, the more then can spend on other processes that aren’t yet streamlined. Or they can create entirely new processes. It moves the goals on what we recognize as creativity.

But while that opens up some kinds of creation to those without older skills and thus opens up to new voices, it does disadvantage those who have those older skills and were able to express themselves with less competition for attention. So certainly there is a class of creator that is negatively affected even as others are empowered to become creators.

But @emma.hine1’s earlier post about decentralization and community ownership address this a bit, because those communities then regulate competition in their spaces. Communities create their inner and outter spaces and they collectively define what qualifies as creativity and what tools or libraries are permitted.