On 5th May I wrote something very simple and not new in Mastodon, which appeared to resonate with a few people:

I don’t understand the idea that the Fediverse HAS to grow to compete with service X or it will be irrelevant.

Firstly a network has to be useful to its members, who do not necessarily want to be driving the news cycle.

The need for continuous growth and influence comes from investors looking at making a profit, independently of how damaging the network becomes to members and overall society.

It is a simple position that predates the current dominant social networks, and I am sure people involved in the Fediverse for over a decade already had it in mind.

The quoted post was part of a much longer set of exchanges with other Mastodonians. Missing that context, some readers misinterpreted my post, thinking that I opposed any growth. Just to be clear, I am not arguing that the Fediverse should not growth, but that its success should not be primarily evaluated by how big it gets. Moreover, I have two additional considerations:

  • Grow *should be* distributed across many instances rather than over a few enormous ones. This improves the resilience of the network by increasing diversity and improving the ability to have meaningful moderation.
  • We should think of more diverse “social media” beyond clones of the current dominant commercial offers. Part of this could be going back to the origins of internet, loosely linking static pages, wikis, blogs, etc.

I have a strong preference for diversity of approaches towards online communication. There used to be multiple blogging software, a very large number of wiki versions and we have been confronted for multiple waves of consolidation. Not everything has to be federated and I envision a revival of RSS.