Wish for the fediverse


Nostalgia is a harmful drug and it’s always dangerous to indulge it. So those people who fondly keep in mind the early blogosphere, and now wish to draw parallels to the fediverse, must do so thoroughly. But we do wish to gain from history.Here’s one method

to compare five generations of social software along the five dimensions named in the title of this post.

Autonomy Package size Friction Fanout Velocity
Usenet medium high medium medium low
Blogosphere high high high low low
Facebook low high low medium high
Twitter low low low high high
Fediverse high medium high medium medium

— These are squishy categories, however I think they emerge crucial distinctions. A number of us who were active in the blogosphere of the early 2000s enjoyed a high level of autonomy. Our RSS readers were our internet control panels. We filled them with a curated mix of authorities and specific voices. There were no limitations on the size of packages exchanged in this network. You could compose one brief paragraph or a 10,000-word essay. Networking wasn’t frictionless since post did mainly feel like essays, and due to the fact that remarks didn’t yet exist. To talk about my article you ‘d compose your own article connecting to it.That friction limited the degree to which a post would fan out through the network, and the speed of its proliferation. The architecture of high friction, low fanout, and low velocity was a winning mix for a while. In that environment I felt linked but not over-connected, educated however not overloaded.Twitter turned things around totally. It wasn’t just the loss of autonomy as advertisements and algos took control of. With packets topped at 120 characters, and tweets possibly seen instantly by everyone, friction went almost to zero. The architecture of low friction produced an addicting experience and enabled powerful impacts. But it wasn’t conducive to healthy discourse. The fediverse can, maybe, strike a balance.

People didn’t develop to flourish in frictionless social media networks with high fanout and speed, and arguably we should not. We did progress in networks governed by Dunbar’s number, and our online networks should appreciate that limitation. We need less friction within communities of understanding and practice, more friction in between them. We want messages to fan out pervasively and quickly within communities, but less so in between them.We’re at a remarkable inflection point today. Will the fediverse enable us to strike the ideal balance? I think it has the right architectural components to land where I’ve (speculatively)put it because table. High autonomy. As little friction as required, however not too little. As much fanout and speed as needed, but not excessive. Nobody understands how things will end up, forecasts are futile, habits is emerging, but I am on the edge of my seat seeing this all unfold. Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc. Source

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