Krafter's Thoughts

Ideas, Theories, and Thoughts on Life, The world, and the Internet

Where are we Going?

Recently, I've found a new side of the internet has started to emerge. It's not entirely new, as it's very reminiscent of the 'old web', but it's new to me (and probably many others in my age bracket). This new internet encompasses many things, but in this post we'll just focus on the Social Media side of things.

In the past several years, many open source solutions for social media have matured (and continue to do so). Solutions like Mastodon, PixelFed, Peertube, and others. But we must start at the beginning —the current corporate-backed internet— before we can delve into current 'Fediverse' solutions, and why I think they will inevitably overtake their centralized counterparts.

And there are so many of these centralized social media sites. Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Facebook, Twitter (or X) to name a few. People have flocked to these sites for years, and with good reason too. Because there are so many people on any one of these given sites, you're practically guaranteed to find your niche. Also, pretty much all your friends are on such sites, as it's the societal norm to do so. Those who aren't are often seen as outsiders or not in-the-loop of what's happening. Users run from the fear of missing out.

However, in recent years, we've seen how this centralized social media model does in fact make people 'miss out'. As I'm sure everyone is aware at this point, proprietary social media is designed to be addictive. While hiding under the mask of connecting people (which is a good thing, that it does do) they use various methods to ensure the user stays hooked. They employ algorithms to keep feeding users content that they will watch and interact with— keeping them on the platform for as long as possible. Since these users interact with peoples' content, they are naturally given incentive to continue creating/posting content on these sites. However, with the recent (near) falls of sites like Twitter and Reddit, the average user begins to see the other fatal flaw in these platforms. That being the leadership and purpose of such social media services. Modern, proprietary, centralized social media is typically lead by a singular individual, whose purpose is to make more money for a investors or themselves.

But what if there was another way? Let's suppose, for a moment, that we could have an ecosystem of social media platforms that are completely averse to that described above. Lead not by a singular individual, but lead by many individuals with their own ideas, methods, and interests. Purposed not to server the investor, but intended to serve the user, and designed to cultivate relationships between one another— rather than a slavery towards a platform. And most importantly, a platform that doesn't collapse due to the whims of one. That platform is the Fediverse.

The beauty of the Fediverse lies in that architecture. Because this ecosystem is not limited to one site (owned by one person or corporation), we instead have many sites (called “instances”) that work together (or are “federated”) to connect people and create our platform. On the Fediverse, we (the community) have the freedom to use whatever platform we wish, all without 'missing out', because, thanks to ActivityPub, we can follow whoever we want to from wherever we choose to be! There is no fear of missing out, because you don't need to spend time mindlessly scrolling on every platform under the sun, to dig through the algorithm until you find the posts you really care about. That's the other thing— the algorithm, or lack thereof. The Fediverse has no algorithm. Most sites, like Mastodon, simply have feeds sorted by new. While it may seem this lack of content curation would make the site boring or uninteresting, it frankly does the opposite. The lack of an algorithm means the user has to put in an effort to fill their feed with users who post content that they are actually interested in. Because (back to proprietary social media) that's what the alternative lacks. The algorithm feeds the user not with content that they like, or want to see, but with content that makes them stay on the platform. Content that keeps them scrolling. With federated social media, the users themselves curate content that is meaningful to them. In this way, we actually accomplish the premise that the centralized model fails to fulfill. We connect people in an intricate community of those who want to be together. And while it takes time to find the right people to follow, once you find them you are better off because of it.

And this revelation, of an internet where the community itself is the focus, is an amazing and powerful thing. I believe, as more and more people discover the beauty of the Fediverse, the corporate-backed, proprietary, centralized social media model will die off. Because, the user will realize that they don't want to fall victim to the whims of some billionaire.

So where are we going? Hopefully to a more decentralized, open internet.

But alas, only time can tell.