(This post was prompted by an interesting discussion w/ @nemo.)
We all bring expectations about the nature of online interaction. The general default is that you say something once, and then it sticks around forever. If you're old enough, shit you said decades ago can haunt you, or at the least be an embarassment to your future self. That bad hair. Those idiot takes, when you were stoned and thought you were so smart.
But we've sort of come to terms with that, and norms are evolving. People are generally more forgiving of our past selves. If you've been around long enough, you've either been caught out or can vividly imagine how you might ahve been. However, new tech means new possibilities. I'm posting this message on SN, which makes me wonder, what kind of interaction model do people want for a site like SN? I can imagine two poles at opposite ends of a continuum.
Ephemeral: pretend SN is like your local bar. If you happen to be at the bar when I'm there, and I say something, you get to hear it. If you're not there, you don't. At best, other people who did hear what I said, who are still there when you arrive, can tell you. Maybe you can figure it out indirectly.
Permanent: pretend like SN is a university, where lectures and comments made during the lecture are part of the historical record; or a newspaper, where people write articles, and then other people send in comments about those articles, which are printed in later editions, and which exist forever, or at least until the newspaper goes out of print.
It's worth saying that the "ephemeral" pole is actually not really an option in a digital world -- the 1990s should have taught us that -- but you can insert different amounts of friction to create ephemerality for all but the most motivated "attackers" if you want to.
You can also set up incentives in a way to bias toward one thing or another -- if you imagine in 2026, when SN is way more popular, evergreen content could accrue the author an expontential income stream: great articles / comments just keep harvesting sats, and, better yet, keep drawing additional participation in an extended capital formation process. Permanent and discoverable content could really amount to something, eventually.
Anyway, it's an interesting thing to think about. You can imagine designing to maximize ephemerality (e.g., all posts / comments auto-delete after x hours / days) but what would such design choices afford? What would SN be like if it were designed to be a perpetual now? What kind of relationships could we have? In real-life, in small groups, this works -- think of your corner bar, or your gym, or whatever. Online, is it viable?
I've been pondering this for a while. The more I do, the more I conclude that this is a thing people generally default to -- online interaction works the way it's always worked. You know what you're getting. But if you're being more intentional about it, what design choices fall out from your decisions, and what are the consequences of those choices?