You need something like email, not MANY social networks
Enough of ARTIFICIAL distinctions, made only to capture people!
Days ago, during an online conversation, I observed that social networks should give people the same freedom that email providers do, that is (as a minimum) the freedom to communicate transparently with users other email providers, and the freedom to run your own email service yourself, if you so wish.
This prompted someone to ask me how that idea relates to the “Fediverse”, that is Mastodon and similar platforms. Here is my answer.
Before answering, and using email as reference, but extending it to any other service, from blogging to Instant Messaging consider this fact:
today, the only way for 99% of email user to change email provider involves changing address, i.e. losing part of their digital identity, and reachability from many (potential) contacts. It also involves no control on if/how one’s contact list, private conversations etc… are protected.
The ONLY way to solve this problem is to make it not just possible but REALLY easy to:
- give everybody a way to set up and use a personal, PERMANENT, LIFETIME-VALID “firstname.lastname@example.org”, that may also be migrated whenever they want from one physical server to another (i.e. from one hosting provider to another) without any service interruptions.
- make that “way” as simple as getting a facebook gmail account.
The second point is the really important one even, no: especially for people who do not have their own web domain to begin with. Besides, the “package” would include even a personal blog living in the same domain.
Those observations about the “email problem” are necessary to answer that question about the “fediverse” and Mastodon: I am convinced that today’s distinction between blogging, microblogging, videoblogging, instagramming etc… is largely artificial, that is created, or otherwise caused, by corporations that desperately need to addict as many people as possible, by boxing them into as many “market segments” as possible.
If everybody had her own instance of what I called a “percloud” ten years ago, everybody could use it as they need and see fit, without losing contacts with everybody else.
So you would have certain perclouds LOOKING like what is today a Twitter timeline, others like a personal YouTube channel, others as good old Wordpress blogs.. but all these “platforms” would be 100% open to each other by design, allowing their owners to share and discuss everybody else’s content.
As far as Mastodon itself is concerned, I have written a lot exactly about how it fits in this vision (both as positive potential, and as practices and misconceptions to avoid) in this series of posts.