So Elon bought Twitter. And lots of people are attempting to take their social presence elsewhere. Which is a good idea. But to me seems futile, in the short term at least.
Don’t get me wrong. I would genuinely love to see a move towards a more open technology based on common protocols and where people own their own information.
I love Micro.blog (which is often the answer when people propose “can’t we just aggregate RSS feeds somehow?”). I’m sometimes over there for starters.
I’ve tried Mastodon several times as @firstname.lastname@example.org (previously @email@example.com).
And I recently found the fun-looking collection of tools over at omg.lol where I signed up as rw.omg.lol with a “status log” at omg.lol/@rw
But we’ve seen this attempted exodus to the promised land many times before.
Without a proper mass migration of people and organisations to another service, it doesn’t stick.
You end up with people cross posting to multiple services to reach all the people that they want to reach.
And then as a reader I’m checking multiple services and seeing the same things. The signal/noise ratio goes down.
And most people get fed up and end up back where they were before.
It takes huge discipline and sacrifice by a large number of people simultaneously to have the right effect. This is hard to achieve. I don’t understand how a mass migration to not-Twitter happens.
(I’m aware that the use of “sacrifice” here may seem odd, but for all their flaws, the big social networks have real, genuine value for people, so you do often give something up when you move somewhere quieter. You could, however, replace “discipline and sacrifice” with “not-giving-a-crappery” if you want to. That’s definitely also an option for how to leave. To simply not care.)
Many people are flocking to Mastodon. My personal issue with Mastodon specifically is that I feel like I’m either putting my social presence in the hands of a total stranger with an unknown business model and no clue as to the service’s sustainability. Or I have the pain and cost of running/managing my own server.
Now I don’t mind paying a little for a social presence that has value, but Mastodon simply hasn’t had that for me yet.
I prefer the micro.blog model. It’s been around for a while and Manton seems to have built a sustainable indie platform. You can bring your own “CMS” and he does the following/feed/comment bits. Or you can use the very simple posting/blogging system that he’s built for a small fee. It’s all based on open standards and indieweb protocols, but it has the simplicity of setup that an everyday internet user needs to get started.
I’m not saying I wouldn’t love a mass migration to happen. I’ve just seen so many attempts now and none seem to have been particularly successful, and I don’t see why this one would either.
For a big change to happen, I think either the platform has to spontaneously combust itself or it falls out of fashion by a long period of attrition and fades from the public consciousness over time. Facebook may even be at the start of this. Time will tell.
Perhaps, one day, we will look back and remember that thing we all used called Twitter the same way we remember Geocities and MySpace. But I struggle to see how that will be next week or next month. It will be in many years.
These occasional reconnaissance missions are good. I’m respectful of them. And grateful for them. They will eventually lead the charge away. So do look around. See if you feel at home elsewhere. And look me up elsewhere in the coming weeks too. The more of you that are elsewhere, the less I will think that I still need the big networks.