ThinkSpot: How Good Is It?
ThinkSpot is a new social media site oriented toward supporting content creators, with an eye to anti-censorship. Notably, companies such as Google Twitter, and Patreon have come under criticism for this, with critics alleging that they have a bias in favor of political liberals on the platform and against conservatives. The project has involved one such critic, the polarizing psychologist Jordan B. Peterson, along with a dozen or so other creators. Some of these figures are on the political right, but others, such as David Pakman, claim to hail from the left. Many others even appear to be apolitical in their content and offer something more along the lines of general philosophy.
I was lucky enough to receive an invite during its beta phase. Having paid for a basic TS subscription and seen some of the content, there are some questions that necessarily follow. How much promise is there on this site? Is the content worthwhile? Is it user-friendly?
Promise and Potential
As the politics and discussion of news and the culture war is concerned, there seems to be a lot for which to hope. TS has at least tried to stay true to its basic purposes and allow people from multiple spots on the political spectrum to participate. When the site is ready for its full release, we may in fact get what was promised: a funding site that is beyond reproach of political biases.
Still, I wonder if the focus may be too political, too intellectual, and too academic. Will other forms of content be able to operate on this platform? Will artists and writers who want to produce content have a place here? While it seems that TS wants to avoid setting too many boundaries, I wonder if the focus on anti-censorship has distracted them from the benefit of being a general hub for creators, in the manner of some place like Patreon. If it does not accomplish that, one has to wonder if it will stand the test of time, even if it has had the benefit of being highly anticipated.
Is the content worthwhile?
Of the content that is currently there, is it worthwhile? To answer, I would have to give an emphatic yes. Creators, however few there currently are at this moment, have content that delivers on what we had hoped to see with such a platform. It is long-form, covers a wide variety of topics (and growing), and it is relatively easy to keep up with all of it, compared to what feels like a previous habit of having to wade through the feeds of five other sites.
If you are here for the Intellectual Dark Web, there is content for you. If you are here a source of news or information, there is content for you. If you enjoy long reads, there is content for you. If you prefer video or audio formats, there is content for you.
As the beta eventually ends and leads to a more open platform for creators at large, the options will likely only get better from here. Content being worthwhile in the future, however, depends on the supposedly rich diversity offered by volume actually panning out. I suppose we shall see.
It’s worth noting that a basic subscription (which is $20 for a year right now) is not the only option. Participants can subscribe to specific creators to unlock all of their content. Prices vary from contributor to contributor, and they currently strike me as a bit high. A Jordan Peterson subscription costs $240/year, while one for David Pakman is at $60/year (although the beta offer is half those). For all the curious, yet poor millennials flooding this platform, choose your full subscriptions wisely.
For the most part, TS is user-friendly. The scheme is in neutral colors that are easy on the eyes. Users are also limited from using profile pictures, as TS worries (I imagine correctly) that images next to names could be distracting and lead people to make prejudicial interpretations of other users’ comments. Comments appear to be concealed from view on the feed, as if the idea is to get users to view the content before viewing the reactions.
Public fora exist for each creator, where users may create threads for discussion, but it takes a few clicks to get to this point, and this may make the fora unlikely to get much traction. Currently, it appears to be under-utilized, lacking the kind of Socratic discussion that seems to be at the heart of the whole discussion. Most of this is still found in the comment sections for each piece of content, rather than creators’ fora.
Overall, I consider the beta of ThinkSpot to be a success. It is a sign of things to come, of perhaps a bright spot in online culture against the prevailing winds of toxicity. That said, there are improvements to be made, and these improvements will determine if TS stands the test of time. For now, it will be worth diving in, but the product will have to show that it can flower into something that actually contends with the likes of Patreon, YouTube, and — well, hell — Medium.