Any thoughts on The Federation Fallacy?
LWN comments: https://lwn.net/Articles/781205/
@codewiz I've got some thoughts on the criticisms I see of this article: these problems are cultural, not just technical, which makes them even more valid IMO. People are mad at this article because there don't HAVE to be just three instances, the CODE lets us do it otherwise.
Who cares? In reality, there are 3 big instances, and ignoring that fact because it messes with your narrative is just gonna make you a worse problem-solver.
@emsenn I've always thought that centralization happens due to small but constant social and economic forces.
We instinctively blame the largest mastodon instances for causing this, but the truth is that *users* deliberately pick large instances because there are real and perceived advantages.
I can't imagine what a federated protocol could do to offset the natural advantage of scale to promote decentralization.
@emsenn Maybe this fantasy federated protocol could use smart contracts to enforce progressive tax rates that penalize larger instances? 🙂
@codewiz This is an idea which has been suggested before, actually! The problem is then all you need to innovate is remove that feature, after people forget why it was there in the first place.
I think the reason people will opt for smaller instances is because they want to more control their data. But almost no one posts to record data, they post to get social feedback, and well, economies of scale definitely apply.
Frankly, I don't think it's a problem that can be solved, because...
@codewiz ...it's a problem that only exists because we're doing something we really probably shouldn't in the first place.
That is, social media probably is bad, if for no other reason than the fact it necessitates quantifying socializing, so any solution we come up for it is gonna be bad, and we should probably rescope everything as "personal communication" and see where things fall out from there. IM (not humble) O.
@emsenn Is this really a novel thing that came with Internet-based social networks?
If an author takes the time to write down and publish their thoughts, obviously they wanted to affect some people, perhaps as many people as possible... perhaps just their friends.
Whether the media is a printing press, AM radio or Twitter, the point is that content producers seek an audience, and vice versa. Social networks are only different in that everyone can become a content creator with zero startup cost.
@codewiz I am struggling to explain this, sorry for long, disjointed words: I think we used to have two main groups of content creators:
1) humans, who say things because they're human and saying things is a human activity. Those things sometimes feel important so get shared more.
2) content creators who made things to bring to market for their own goals (usually financial prosperity or noteriety.)
Think, man sitting at home writing journal, versus man tacking daily newspaper he wrote to lamppost.
I think by social media's nature, by the fact we write to post, not write in a journal then flag to post, and many other things, we have people who do #2... but think they're doing #1. But they aren't, and #1 is very important for helping us... think about how we think, and relate to the world around us, etc. It's true writing/wording, not providing input to get the cheese, y'know?
@codewiz From what I've learned, people truly did just used to journal and write and then if something was worth it, rewrite it as a letter or essay. There was a rough hierarchy of publication, even for, y'know, normal folk, not just academics or w/e.
But now it's all just "put out words, get in likes," and I really think something has been lost in losing writing-that-isn't-for-sharing.
@codewiz Like yes, authors - content creators - have always wanted to get their words out there widely. But there used to be a time we would converse and think with each other, without it being implicit or explicit fame-seeking, or risking consequences of mass exposure, etc.
And I think in losing that, we've lost perspective that word-crafting is a human activity done for its own craft and benefit, not just to get a reward.
(Sorry this hits on a lot of things I've written about in bursts, so)
If you have a thought while stepping out of a chair and forget it 2 seconds later, and if you have a thought and post it and get 20,000 likes, they're both thoughts you had and both are equally valid as thoughts. I feel like it's easy to feel like we need to "register" our thoughts as posts for them to count as being part of us but like, no - it's all part of us.
And I think when "registering" a thought was something that cost transcription, a stamp, and a walk to the postbox...
@codewiz ...at the very least, it was easier to remember that the things you think to yourself are as much a part of you as the parts of you you choose to post.
Which isn't to say, don't maintain a cultivated online identity. But don't conflate it with who you are?
Which is a really long way to say, yeah, I do think social media is different than anything that came before, but I also expect it's more of a slippery slope into social media than I believe.
@emsenn Sure, but aren't we carrying on the #1 activity on a social platform, right now in this thread? Perhaps it's not the most popular usecase, but still feasible...
@codewiz Sure but it's also feasible by me walking to wherever you live and verbally saying these things to you - that doesn't mean there aren't way better methods for getting it done.
I think the fact that people conduct these sorts of conversations /regardless of the fitness tools available/ shows just how important it is.
We'll figure out how to do it with whatever means we've got; no need keeping it tied to social media, y'know? Throw out the bathwater, not the baby.
@emsenn The two of us formed a perfect echo chamber at this point 🙂
We should wait and see if someone jumps into the thread with a contrarian opinion, hehe.
Sorry but I need to get some sleep now, it's past midnight here and a meeting at 9am just appeared on my calendar 😪
@emsenn And yes, if broadcasting thoughts had a high cost, like in ancient greece, then only poetry and literature would be published...
Free (and gratis) social media also enables shitposting and other less noble uses, but... sometimes even those fast-paced threads of puns in Reddit are fun to read, aren't they? 😉
@codewiz For sure! But - excuse the fearmongering - at what cost? We're legit training several generations across multiple continents to rely on Internet feedback for shaping and reforming how they think about things, "you've seen headlines about war with russia 10 times today, post your own opinion or feel invalid." We've already seen how far folk will go to maintain being accepted into their group, and I think you'd agree digitial communication is in its earliest days.
> only poetry and literature would be published.
I'd think of it as, "only those would reach the highest tier of publication," because I have to think even in golden Athens, there were shitpost memes being scrawled on scrap paper.
I'll bring it back around to econ since that's about where we started: barriers of entry are generally detrimental for participants in a market, but beneficial for the quality of product. (cont'd)
@codewiz When the "market" is "improving everyone's quality of life," it may be a net good to raise the barrier of entry to improve quality, since everyone, even those excluded from participating directly, still see the benefit.
(Put another way, there's a reason we like representative instead of direct democracies*)
(*actual representative democracies, lol.)
Good night! sleep well.
@emsenn This brings up a number of controversial ideas to improve the SNR of social media: content ranking and filtering, user profiling, sponsored posts...
Mastodon is not doing any of these *yet*, but I'd argue that most users out there are unable or unwilling to invest the time it takes to hand-tune their own feeds. If they're coming from years of FB or Twitter, they all expect content relevant to the to magically pop up on top.
@hhardy01 @codewiz @emsenn what if we had ways to algorithmically "fuck up and censor" our own feeds without giving anyone the access our data? Would you like that? And remember that it doesn't need to be just bad "fuck up and censor". Ads claim they are invading our privacy to provide "more relevant" content. What if we could have more relevant content without the spying? Would you want that? Many people would.
@emsenn Indeed! Pompeii preserved plenty of obscene and nonsensical graffiti for our joy:
CAVE SERMONEM VULGARIS
English translations of some of the best Pompeii graffiti (beware, vulgar speech ahead!):
CAVE SERMONEM VULGARIS
@codewiz omg that first one made me snort-laugh
CAVE SERMONEM VULGARIS
@codewiz One time I was repairing a wall and inside, opposite a patched hole in the drywall, was the text like "Bill punched this hole in 86 after Tim made him mad."
@emsenn ...but then we'd see the emergence of franchise and chains which evade the instance tax by aggregating many smaller instances under the same centralized brand.
We already have brand wars between competing frontends, don't we? 🙂
@codewiz You've got a good perspective on these things, mate! V holistic, I think.
@emsenn You too, buddy!
It's a real pleasure to have a discussion here on the fediverse in this historic moment where the density of independent thinkers is much higher than elsewhere. I heard that Twitter too was like this in its early days.
It's a troll post.
Very confused argument.
For instance. People don't host their own email service, by and large. Even though it is federated. And they similarly usually don't host their own federated social media instance. In fact the idea of a local newsfeed wouldn't make a lot of sense if each instance only had one user. I honestly couldn't see what they were trying to prove in this article except for a singularly poor attempt at throwing shade.