I want to apologize for my lack of posting. I learned of Mastodon, an open source social networking platform similar to Twitter, but decentralized. I stood up a Mastodon server for Geekz at http://geekz4u.com. Please visit and register for the service. A server instance is like a small community. The service offers two streams. One of the streams is activity only from the local instance. So, this would be members of a single Mastodon server communicating or posting statuses. The other stream is a feed of activity coming from all instances to which the server is connected to. This server to server connection is lovingly called the federation. This is the merging, or mingling, of many disparate instances into a larger network. We are currently connected to around 200 out of 1600 servers. Many of those are smaller, possibly one user, servers.
I went into more detail on an earlier post. I wanted to explain why I haven’t posted as much this last week. We are still working on unique content and I vow to get back on track with some quality posts. After toying with Mastodon, I also learned of some services to which I had not yet been introduced. Diaspora, is another decentralized social platform. It would be to Facebook what Mastodon is to Twitter, although drawing allusions and making connections in that way is quite difficult. Each of these services is also unique in the way they operate and what they provide their end users.
At last check today, Mastodon had around 600,000 members. Twitter had 3.3 million. Mastodon is still growing, but I hear that Diaspora is dwindling. My take on people’s frustration with Diaspora is design and feature. Some features which would rival Facebook have been discussed and not yet deployed. The longer they wait, the more inevitable it will be that Diaspora will never be a household name. WhAt does it take to become a powerhouse social media platform? That’s actually a great question.
Some would say that becoming “the” social networking platform requires luck, timing, features, etc. I was accused of revisionist history the other day in a Mastodon conversation where we were having this same discussion. I’ll make my point again here and see what our community thinks. Facebook was not available to the public at first. MySpace became the powerhouse and most of my connections were there. Some celebrities made a home there as well. I made the point that MySpace lost out when Facebook was opened to the public and many people who had already heard about it moved over. There was some measure of pent up excitement.
All I am saying is that a social network will only grow when two factors are present. First, most of my connections are on the network…at least my core connections. Second, is when people of celebrity status join in. Twitter is dwindling, but because many of my close connections have left or stopped using their accounts, I spend less time there. I do follow some celebrities that I like to keep up with. Many of those are just geeks who I consider celebrities. Facebook may not be my favorite option for networking with friends and family, but almost everyone I know and most of my family are there. So, I am drawn to use it.
If a new network enters the scene with features that match or rival the current champion, there could be a mass exodus. This is especially true if the newcomer places more focus on security and privacy that the incumbent. It also would gain ground faster if people could be assured that their data was owned by them and not some corporation. What are your thoughts regarding these lesser networks and services? Do you think any of them will ever knock the current big networks off their throne?