, 13 tweets, 2 min read Read on Twitter
Diaspora and Mastodon problem is they accept the tech giant's forms of social media as the only playing field. They are attempts at rebuilding decentralized Facebook and Twitter, but this premise doesn't make sense in my opinion. A thread ↓
Product vision for Facebook and Twitter is concomitant to centralization, and to the particular flavour of network effects brought by centralization. It does not translate to a decentralized web. A decentralized or distributed social network has to be something else altogether.
Put differently : the value of Facebook & Twitter for its users is dependent on centralization. Decentralized and distributed social media will only thrive when flipping the table, not accepting blindly those product visions have "won"
In my opinion the first step is to build products that have value for the individual, and let the social aspects, the network effects, sublime this value. Value at the individual level can be many things. Let me organise my thoughts, let me curate "my" web, etc.
Blogs are an example of value at the individual level, by the way. Blogs don’t thrive as social media because blogs and RSS feeds aren’t a product. Social media on top of blogs (or just websites) is possible, but it’s not accessible, nor inclusive.
FOAF, WebSub, Webmention, Micropub etc. all of those are at best building blocks for products to be. Accessibility and social inclusion (and thus great network effects) can only be achieved through great products, not through standards.
I believe a distributed social network can thrive, built as a product with a vision and with value for the individual as a design guiding principle. This means of course overcoming “the feed” as the sole form of social media that can be.
The “feed” is the common design principle of Facebook & Twitter, but it’s also an implicit constraint for them. It’s an untold database design constraint. What web-scale, or planetary-scale, databases systems have in common is rigid, thought-out access patterns.
The feed is such an access pattern, and I imagine there isn’t much leeway around it for a centralised website with billions of users. But for a product that’s built for and around the individual, this isn’t a constraint. Access patterns isn’t a concern. Any pattern can work.
Social media will never be “fixed” by mincing its current form into nodes and pods. It will only be fixed when new forms are brought that empower its users, the individuals, and then only let them connect to one another.
Witch-hunting, fake news, manipulation, bullying, bubbles, etc. all those predate Facebook and Twitter, predate computers. And so does creativity, solidarity, poetry, compassion, literacy, alterity, etc. Let’s try and build products that optimise for those. They won’t be “feeds”.
I predict the 20’s will see such imaginary products come to life, of various forms and shape, and some will become very big. I predict they will be downloadable, desktop-first applications, with local-first data.
They will not replace “traditional” social media. They will be something else. #MarkMyWords.
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