Fascinating Article: “What If the Next Big Social Media App Is ... Nothing?”

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I’m intrigued by the ATP guys analysis. Mastadon’s federation might ultimately be the paradigm shift.

Instead of walled-garden proprietary systems, with Threads just being the latest me-too, federation of all these systems (Meta claims it will federate Threads “soon”), could become more email-like with almost universal connectivity where the UI-frontend is independent of the backend content/data store?

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Maybe. But currently it reminds me a lot of Google Plus in the early days, it’s a tech echo chamber.

If threads actually limits the posting of breaking news I don’t care if they federate or not. And if mastodon doesn’t attract some news media my social media days may be coming to an end.

Soon → “long while”.

Part of me clicked on this link thinking “please tell me the next social media app isn’t called ‘Nothing’”.

I don’t know where I’ve landed yet on my thinking, but as a terminally online person since my early teens, in recent months the upheaval of social media in the last year has made me very nostalgic for the early days, with independent message boards, blogging communities and contained chat spaces (contained as in “on one website of maybe a few thousand users that isn’t a soul-sucking monolith”).

I think possibly (as I said, I’m not 100% settled in my views on this yet) it’s not actually good to just have millions of users all accessible to each other. People can’t build a sense of community if they don’t have repeated interactions with the same people, nor can a unique culture evolve, and it’s not normal for a human community to have a constant influx (and exit) of temporary visitors. One of the things I’ve realised as I’ve been rummaging around for a Twitter replacement is that actually it’s the people that I’ve lost, not Twitter itself, and I can’t get that back because we’re scattered to the winds.

I will probably still be online in 10 years assuming we still have electricity by then, but I think we need to be much more careful about building resiliency into our online spaces. They shouldn’t be subject to the whims of one person or a company, but even if they are we should have agreed back-up spaces so we don’t lose our online friends.

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I’ve happily settled into Micro.blog and Mastodon, both of which support ActivityPub which will the basis for my future participation in any social network. The Micro.blog community timeline is probably, in total, 1,000 people though in terms of active users I get the feeling it’s more like 200 to 400? I think I’m following maybe 80 people and see 30 regulars. Actually feel similar to this place! A lot of Apple and tech folk but also lots of shared photos, discussion of food, hobbies, etc. The timeline has a very cozy feel and Manton and Jean are present daily to support and curate the larger “Discover” feed. My point is that it feels very well taken care of.

Mastodon of course now has 2+ million users and feel much larger, more like a traditional social network. That said, I greatly appreciate that ActivityPub is at the center and that it is a decentralized network. Lots of tools available to manage my timeline, mute as needed, etc. I donate to my server of a few thousand people and it’s well taken care of with moderators available if needed. Again, it feels well taken care of. Being a much larger network my Mastodon feed is far more diverse, more political, etc. But it still very much feels like real people rather than celebrities or brands. There’s no algorithm, no ads, and in general it feels like the old internet I remember from the 90s. Less like social media (self promotion) and more like social internet (sharing).

A last point to illustrate what I love about ActivityPub. While both of those accounts above are separate they work very well together. Because Manton has added full ActivityPub support to Micro.blog it actually functions as an instance in the larger Fediverse. So, to explain, my micro.blog hosted website/blog is beardystarstuff.net. But any one in the fediverse can see my profile: @denny@beardystarstuff.net just as though it were a self-hosted instance. Any post I make on my blog will show up under that username. If someone on Mastodon or any other ActivityPub service visits that profile they can leave comments, read my posts, etc. And from micro.blog I can use the search tool on the Discover feed to follow anyone on the Fediverse just as I can follow folks on micro.blog. It’s all tied together via ActivityPub. So, for example, I can follow and interact with @viticci@macstories.net or @ismh@eworld.social any other user through my micro.blog timeline.

Because micro.blog has such great support for ActivityPub many of those folks have stopped using a separate Mastodon account and just do everything via their micro.blog feed. I’ve not done that because I like having a separate Mastodon account as I follow several hundred folks that I have split up into groups based on topic areas which all works very well via the Mona app for Mastodon. Micro.blog does not support such groups so at the moment I just keep a dedicated Safari tab for Micro.blog and Mona, side by side in a space. Nice to have the two together but each in their own windows.

If I had to choose only one I’d chose micro.blog because it allows me to have my own domain and full length posts of whatever size I want. But the for my purposes it’s pretty easy to just have two accounts that seem to complement one another very nicely.

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I don’t know if I’ll be able to find it, but I read a post talking about how the result of proliferating AI and bots would likely drive the pendulum back to more local relationships and in-person (also local) communications. The theory (as I gathered) was something along the lines of if we cannot be assured we are interacting with real people online, can’t rely on what we see on video or in photographs as accurate, it will reduce trust, and thus drive down usage. In its place we’ll go back to more reliable methods of interacting.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. It’s seems plausible. It might even be beneficial if it drives us out of the meta verse and into the sunlight of the actual universe. I post this here not with any conclusions of my own, but merely to chum the waters. :rofl:


Well, until 10 years from now when these are even more realistic. :slightly_smiling_face:

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