In reality, it doesn’t even come to that. The indie web is, as of now, inferior to the point that no honest product comparison could make it seem an alternative. It requires you to learn concepts (like Mastodon’s federation and servers) that does not benefit you in any real way in your day-to-day use, adds additional complexity, and makes things less practical on the user end in the real world, even if in abstract it does improve the ideas underlying.
P2P is still trying to win based on the goodness of people’s hearts. That does not work - I’m saying this as someone who built and is running a P2P platform myself (Aether, https://getaether.net) so I struggle with the same thing. You have to be decentralised and a better product. The only way to make this is to play to the strengths of P2P networks.
If you try to copy a centralised service to make it P2P you will always be at a huge disadvantage, since centralised networks will be always better at running centralised systems. If you do something that’s only really possible on a P2P system though, then you can offer the centralised internet an actual alternative. I don’t think anyone does that yet. (Though for whatever it’s worth, I’m trying.)
However, I don’t actually see it that way. I would have preferred to fork the Web back in 2007 or so. This is going to sound out of touch, perhaps, but the future of the Web for me, personally, consists of entirely different things. Something like: a place to store my writings/conversations that’s mine and can be organized and designed like I prefer, a good way of finding new people (random little out-of-the-way folks of any stripe), and I don’t want a big feed of random garbage - I want to visit other sites now and then, like I would visit friends IRL - I don’t need everyone in my life everyday.
I don’t even care about decentralization or P2P - I actually don’t see that as a central part of the Indieweb. The above is what is important to me. And the Indieweb has been surprisingly satisfying in this way. And it’s actually growing. Not much, but I’m happy with the friends I’ve made. I’m happy with HN as well, for learning things and staying out of my face - but it gets to feel a bit faceless at times because it’s just a bunch of gray comments with often very little to distinguish the people here.
that's nice but it's not what prints money
But it shouldn't just be that.
No, it shouldn't, true, it's also a media and a connectivity platform.
However, in my opinion, the web always should have been strictly non-profit. (Note: non profit means employees are paid properly but the "profit" goes back straight into development, infrastructure, and future proofing).
Money involved is only destroying and splitting it.
Sounds like an ad for Library Genesis and Sci-Hub. :-)
Then it's a self-authenticating firewall / Grail quest.
Search engines found a way to scale and profit from the long tail.
No offense, but this is a good summary of what people were saying about the www in the 90s.
Most importantly, it did not have a full blown competitor that everyone was already using that it had to contend with.
The past is a foreign country. Web of the ‘90s has almost no likeness to the web we have today. Had it stayed like that, we’d still be faxing things around.
All of this can happen with "Indie" Social Media too.
> Most importantly, it did not have a full blown competitor that everyone was already using that it had to contend with.
We had telephones and fax machines, which many people were happy with. Just as an example: Things like Internet Chat were seen as toys by the grown-ups and few people had the foresight that 25 years later people will spend more time sending messages than they spend on the phone.
The so called "Indie" Social Media could have benefits that will kill traditional Social Media one day - or maybe there are good reasons this will never happen. Not practical, hard to use and not having a real use case are no good reasons. They just apply to any new technology in the early stages.
> The past is a foreign country. Web of the ‘90s has almost no likeness to the web we have today. Had it stayed like that, we’d still be faxing things around.
Agreed. Same applies for "Indie" Social Media.
Aether looks cool (I want to dig in deeper); the continual revivals and evolution of the Usenet-like ideas keep me hoping that something like it will catch and get big again.
The latest wave of the eternal September is using terminals that make it damn hard to enter text, and I wonder if that is a killer stumbling block, or a critical and necessary filter.
Creating a website today is much more complicated than it was in the 90s, where the web standards (e.g. HTML) were comparatively simple.
The only thing that's become more complicated is enterprise web design, for professional sites.
And the web solved a huge swath of those problems with centralization.
I think the reason centralization has won is because it is the way of least resistance in our current environment.
Having a basic grasp of what federation means is about as important in Mastodon as knowing what a "group" was on Usenet: it's the first concept one needs to learn.
It's anecdotal, but when I tried to push for ActivityPub the major source of confusion was the prepending @: once I started aliasing <account>@<instance> to @<account>@<instance> everybody stopped asking.
Here's one user that prefers the distributed alternatives. Yes, they are less polished but waaay more exiting and usable.
Like probably most of you here, I don't care for walled gardens. I host my own blog, avoid Google as best as possible, and am regularly one step away from deleting Facebook. But I don't. Why? Because many old friends are there, and I have no other realistic way of keeping up with them. There's no earthly chance I'll ever get them all onto Mastodon, so for better or worse I'm going to stay where they are. In the end, friendship is more important than philosophy.
On the contrary, after years of avoiding it, I recently started using Twitter. Again, the reason is that that is where the people are. I'm still a bit iffy about it, but I have realised that in my field, almost everybody is on Twitter. It is simply the most efficient way to keep up with what is going on and what the important people are doing. In the end, practicality beats purity.
So yes, I'd love to use micro.blog, or host my own Mastodon instance. But until they can offer me what the elephants of Facebook and Twitter can - i.e., a global community - they don't stand a fighting chance.
I come to HN precisely because not everyone knows about this place (and even if everyone knew, not everyone would come).
I don't go much on Reddit anymore (except for some pretty niche subs), because I know that I'll read the same dumb comments over and over again.
Not to slag on HN, but you'll often read the same dumb comments over and over again here as well.
For a lot of these things, making a better product is the easy part. Getting enough people using them so that they start being useful and valuable is the hard part. This is the exact reason why, after reading a book on market design and matching markets, I pretty much simultaneously realized that A) I could make a better dating app user experience than Tinder etc, and B) I don't have the marketing skills and resources needed to get a lot of people using it, so it's pointless.
I don't like these kind of broadcast platforms because they tend to incite abuse; only in Mastodon it leans more toward the left most of the time, given the strict rules most instances enforce. I also don't like not owning my data.
In molochs such as Twitter or Facebook, you already do not own your data, so the only option is to not use them. When it comes to federated networks, the resolution is simple: do not federate with the instances whom you do not trust.
Regardless of the choice you make, if you make it, then please do not complain that your content has no visibility. If you want other people to see the stuff you post, you naturally give them a right to save, repost, screenshot, print, memorize or otherwise make a copy of it. If you do not want that to happen, either do not post it online, or invest in getting a social network to run via Widevine.
I do not have an account on either Facebook nor Twitter. Federated and centralized networks are not that different in terms of how your data is handled: they both rely on trust. Indeed, in centralized platforms you only have one possible group of people in which you can place your trust, but it comes down the very same thing in both cases: hosting your data somewhere else and hoping for the best. Peer to peer networks come with other shortcomings, but that is not one of them.
>If you want other people to see the stuff you post, you naturally give them a right to save, repost, screenshot, print, memorize or otherwise make a copy of it
I agree. Nonetheless, microblogging platforms like Twitter or Mastodon incentivize abusive content with their design. That's why Jack and others at Twitter are testing new ways of presenting and interacting with tweets by means of projects like twttr, and also why some instances on Mastodon let you disable boosts and so on. I won't complain about anything because that's not something I generally intend to do and because I don't think I will ever sign up for Mastodon.
No. Under current copyright you don't grant them any rights, except a very few narrow ones. Memorize is arguably one of them, but reproducing it (accurately) from memory is not.
Disclaimer: I'm sympathetic to a lot of the "leaning to the left" practices you name, such as calling people out and the issue of complicity by voting to maintain the status-quo.
It’s really disturbing to me that a server can follow US laws and get on these shared block lists.
I guess free speech is synonymous with evil totalitarian fascism? It’s no wonder the phrase “clown world” became popular.
Opting into using the blacklist is just that - an option, and you can customize the list as you please on your own instance. There is no problem here.
This kind of nannying makes for an incredibly depressed and not-fun space. Twitter is a fun space precisely because of the possibility of altercations with those that disagree with you.
I think the world has spoken in this regard (based on user and usage volume). People prefer more speech as opposed to less speech. Echo chambers / hive minds are boring and oppressive.
There are plenty of non-facebook social media platforms. From HN to minecraft forums. Eve-online and hundreds of associated websites is essentially one large social media network. And there are plenty of online communities catering to all the stuff you cannot talk about on facebook (piracy, hacking etc). Teens gather in these places specifically to avoid facebook.
Each of these network nodes is run by an independent person or very small group. I think they together get at least as much traffic as the larger networks do individually. We just don't talk about them as much because they don't collect the statistics that facebook does. They don't market themselves to advertisers like facebook does. They don't seek to spy on their users like facebook does.
The rest of us have always been, and likely always will be, a sub-culture of sorts. We used to have message boards, now we have federated social media instances.
If you look at a list of mastodon instances it reads like a list of privately hosted message boards in the 90s/2000s. Or a list of privately hosted BBS' in the 80s.
The major difference being that these islands are now all federated.
In my youth I had a dozen IRC accounts setup in my .irssi/config (or BitchX;), today this would have to be federated. (iWish IRC was fedarated too but that's another story)
So not much has changed on the social aspect. And that's where I believe we're headed. A big shallow part of the internet will be used by people who have better things to do than engage in deep conversations on the computers about their special interests.
While a much smaller, sub-culture, will use specialized forums for their special interests.
So I guess the sad conclusion is that you shouldn't expect the IndieWeb to go mainstream.
Instead we have a non profit set of standards which divide the internet into different layers. So you can have your ISPs, your web hosting providers, your websites etc. There is a healthy demarcation which prevents consolidating of power.
Maybe the way to breakup twitter/facebook etc is to create a set of protocols and divide them into layers.
For instance I should be able to register a username for tweeting like how you register a website name for DNS. Once registered you have a choice to store your tweets in any data hosting service.
Then a number of aggregate readers handle the front end user interface.
Each reader can have its own content filter and discovery algorithms. So even if your content is found offensive in one reader, you can just switch to another. If one is really addictive in a negative way, switch to a less intrusive useful version.
In theory, anyone can implement a standards-compliant system and play on the same level as the major providers. In practice, the email ecosystem has had to evolve a series of defenses against bad actors who took advantage of precisely this standardized openness.
There are, in practice, a relatively small number of email providers that users are likely to interact with. They all find ways to do it profitably. Power is very much consolidated.
It wouldn't surprise me a bit if EU takes time to look into this after they've finished what they've already started.
In fact I'd recommend we all send complaints to local authorities and point out if big actors are blocking our servers without reason (and no, I guess "didn't care to verify" won't fly.)
You can actually run your own mail server without major problems, and even if you use an email provider, there still are quite a lot of them on the planet, and they do have to compete, so if one started to be too much of an asshole, users could reasonably easily switch to a different one, so that certainly limits what providers even attempt to do.
Facebook and to some extent Instagram seem to be most often used to share within pre-existing offline networks; ie you might use it to follow life updates from someone that you also see in person on occasion. This works because everybody is on it — you don’t have to hope that your acquaintance from college (or whatever) has picked the same instance as you.
Is there an “indie” real-life-network alternative? Is that what Diaspora is intended to be?
I've met a ton of people online that I've never met in person and I've learned a ton from them. In some cases I've met these people in person and wonderful friendships developed as a result even though most of the interaction was online.
There's nothing wrong with online communication. And I'm tired of the narrative that something is inherently more meaningful just because it's in person. It's not. There is far more nuance than that.
The internet is a tool and it can be wonderfully used as well as abused. We need to make it easier to use in productive, healthy ways. But to spread this false-narrative of "online vs offline" is mostly people trying to resist change in my estimation.
This immediately reminds me of the "Fifteen Million Merits" episode of Black Mirror.
I envision companies competing on UX/privacy/ect while all using the same data set. People should be able to use Myspace to talk to their grandparents on Facebook.
How it is now is like if Ma Bell was never broken up, and we were only able to use our AT&T phone and data plan to talk to other AT&T customers only. How could any other phone company start with such barriers in place.
But who am I? Just the last human.
I don't particularily like Google, but unlike a bunch of others they haven't shared my data voluntarily AFAIK.
In a way they already compete on privacy.
If my data gets shared among a bunch of them my privacy will be decided by the most sloppy one.
I was disappointed to see the site fall by the wayside, It's just easier, and that's were people are.
obviously not. They were optimised for the conditions that existed at the time, which included limited bandwidth and intermittent connections, which are no longer realistic limits.
Usenet was wonderful and still has many pockets of wonderful in it; but even I who cut my teeth hacking UUCP to WWIV gateways and such want nothing to do with setting up a modern NNTP impementation.
I don't pretend to have the answers to "how do we make a usenet analog happen again?" but the remnants of antiquated forums don't effectively argue against the need for trying new forms of forum.
I hope one day the likes of facebook and the new yorker doesn't exist, but I'm not holding my breath.
The only thing we can do is stop consuming divisive toxic garbage that is facebook and the new yorker.