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Here's your irregular reminder that:

Twitter was a multi-billion dollar company with thousands of employees.

Mastodon is a niche hobbyist product run by volunteers

The fact that we're being seen as a viable alternative to them is an admission that a federated, decentralized future is not only possible, but desirable.

Mastodon is not one thing, or one place. It's a network of many things and many places. We don't have a spokesperson (I mean, there's me. I'm the official spokesperson for 💯 of the fediverse, but beyond me there is no spokesperson) we don't have consensus on moderation or blocking or tools or what is good and what is bad. Some of us are professional SREs and Sysadmins, some of us aren't. Some of our instances have been around for 5+ years, some won't be here in six months.

And that's good! All of it, every last bit of it is good.

We're wrestling power away from the billionaire class, in real time, and reclaiming it for the People.

We're wrestling power away from the billionaire class, in real time.

This is bigger than some technical standard.

This is cultural, political, and economic.

We represent an existential threat to the business model of some of the most wealthy corporations on the planet, and I'll be damned if I'm going to let anyone take that away from us without fighting against it with everything I have.

We are standing on the precipice of a transformative shift in the way we, as a society, relate to one another through the internet.

We are moving away from a Broadcast and Toward a conversation.

This is mutual aid, this is anticapitalism, this is collaborative ideation.

We are living revolutionary values, right here, right now, on a silly little social media network.

And I will fight to my last breathe any God Damn corporation that tries to Monetize that.

This is the future, and you're a part of it now. Be a good steward of the future.

@ajroach42 Which is why we also have to be vigilant about corporations capturing the narrative via corporate proxies like the W3C (who are already publicly patting themselves on the back for having gifted us the fediverse).

@ravensview @ajroach42 Look at their membership and the business models of their members. How many of them are surveillance capitalists? (I’ll start the list: Google, Meta, Adobe…)

To see what I mean about surveillance capitalists, see which of those companies are also on better.fyi/trackers and also see m.youtube.com/watch?v=4oOCLIrB

@ajroach42 Well, Trump already did by stealing the S/W for his Truth Social.

@ravensview And the folks running it are losing money hand over fist and have been blocked from the majority of the network.

I don't know that being against billionaires and corporations is
necessarily anticapitalism (private control of capital is what gives us the freedom to create our own websites), but besides that point I agree with everything you've written.

These megacorps have gotten too big for their britches, and they've forgotten we don't actually need them.

@sj_zero I'm pretty sure that being against the capitalist class is the definition of anticapitalism.

Maybe your definition of capitalism differs from the common one, and somehow has grown to include all forms of ownership and commerce?

Websites wouldn't stop existing under socialism, and it's foolish or wildly misleading to pretend otherwise.

Capitalism is usually defined as the private ownership and control of capital, as opposed to cooperative or state ownership and control of capital.

In my view, you don't need corporations to have capitalism. One of my more radical views is that we should get rid of corporations entirely, and then the owner of a thing would be personally responsible when their thing breaks things or people or the environment instead of letting a legal picture of Dorian Grey take the heat.

@sj_zero banning corporations from existing sounds an awful lot like an anti-capitalist stance to me, although going hyperindividualist route instead of a collectivist route at the end sounds counterproductive, but if it gets us to a world where the workers own the means of production, I don't much care.

The liability protection is a net good, IMHO. Especially in the US where we have a judicial system that encourages litigiousness. I mean your local store owner needs it just as much as a giant pharmaceutical company. Yes, not corporations is still capitalistic, but without that construct, you wouldn't have a lot of industries. The risk just wouldn't be worth the reward.

@midway @sj_zero If you can't sell pieces of a company, what's left to call capital? Productive property, machinery and the like, (which no individual could likely afford), land, and ... what?

What's there left to exploit without corporations?

It's all still capital, it's just that it belongs to a person instead of a legal homonculus. Capital equipment doesn't need to be a mile long factory, it can be simple hand tools, or automated CNC or 3d printing machines, or servers. From there, it could become more as a person accomplishes more. Even people can be considered capital. A skilled person can take things that are worthless and make them valuable.

Corporations are a government construct. They don't exist in nature and didn't exist in economies until relatively recently. Their unnatural existence twists the real world.

@sj_zero @midway Right, and it was the creation of the concept of a corporation that gives way to capitalism in the modern sense.

But I can see this conversation isn't going to be productive, so maybe we should move on.

That's fine. I think the disagreement here is more about capitalism itself. And that's ok too.
We've had recognized corporations since the Romans. Not sure that's recent.
Twitter had a bad business model. That wouldn't matter if it were a corporation or a sole proprietorship. A corporation is simply a way to separate the financial liabilities from individuals running the company from the company itself. That doesn't mean that individual can't be held legally responsible for their individual actions while running the company, but there is sense in having a layer of separation there.

As far as the Fediverse replacing Twitter, I'm still skeptical. Yes, there is a bit of a run here by folks who were on Twitter. But I'll be interested to see how things look 2-3 years from now. I could just as easily see another big tech platform come along and be the next "hot" thing that people run to. I'm glad the Fediverse is getting exposure, but I'm not convinced it will catch on with the average person who just wants to share pictures of their family, pets, life, etc. and cyberstalk ex's. I am entirely open to being wrong here, but I think a lot of people will look and leave because it isn't like big tech. It's too different. For me, it's a great thing, but I never had a Twitter account in the first place and I have enough tech knowledge to run my own instance. That's not most people.
I sort of hope you're right, tbh. I don't want or need the fediverse to become yet another oversaturated thing that everyone is using and suddenly everyone needs to control for our own protection.
I think the software is pretty good. But the dirty little secret is that the two largest instances using this software (forks of Mastodon) .... aren't federated. They are running closer to the traditional social media model. That says something about what people like.

@midway @sj_zero I'm not enjoying this conversation, so I'm going to recuse myself. Good bye.

@ajroach42 @midway @sj_zero corporations can be held cooperatively. They just usually are not. I used to be against llc. but its not the llc that is the problem its that the shareholders have sole control over the corporation. if there was a more democratic ownership structure this would not be an issue.

@sj_zero @ajroach42 @dio Cooperatives are a thing and works in certain Industries like insurance. Nothing wrong with that but it doesn’t make sense for a lot of industries

@ajroach42 @sj_zero

Word. The issue is oligarchy. Why can one man destroy Twitter in one month? If we outlawed billionaires, these billionaires would not be free to destroy so much.

@syrus @ajroach42 @sj_zero

Or able to rewrite laws through lobbying with governments, effectively excluding and hampering the citizens of a country at adapting the law to their needs.

When government and companirs get to cosy we are in danger of fascism and untempered capitalism.

Look at the Uber case.
icij.org/tags/uber-files/

Why Is Anti-Monopoly Cool Again? Part I (Big issue 6-24-2019)
mattstoller.substack.com/p/why

@ajroach42 @sj_zero Man, I don't even know what capitalism is anymore. Part of the problem (from a theoretical standpoint) is that capitalism was originally defined by socialists, who framed it in the terms provided by the labor theory of value. Mainstream has since rejected labor theory in favor of marginal utility. So it's as if the dictionary defined combustion in terms of phlogiston.

@DrDanMarshall @sj_zero That's a great point (except that the labor theory of value is still largely correct, have you looked in to the work of Anwar Shaikh at all?)

@ajroach42 @sj_zero I have not, but I'll add that to my reading list. Do you agree that different kinds of labor are differently elastic in response to demand? (Also, do resources have market value because we produce them, or do we produce them because they have market value?)

@ajroach42 @sj_zero uh, let me back up. I'm not an economist, I'm a philosopher who's taken a few intro econ courses and I've done some reading on my own. I'm working on an apology for social liberalism, and I'm currently writing a chapter against anarcho-socialism. So I would like to hang out with some anarcho-socialists, to make sure I'm not screwing up.

That said, do y'all grok what I mean by "elastic in response to demand"?

@DrDanMarshall @sj_zero ah. An apology for social liberalism sounds like exactly the kind of thing I'd hate.

You should pester @connor_dylan

@ajroach42 @sj_zero @connor_dylan lol. Definitely need to come up with a different title. If Connor show up, I'll try to remember to turn off your mentions.

@DrDanMarshall @ajroach42 @sj_zero

Adam Smith and David Ricardo also subscribed to the labor theory of value. In the 18th Century it was absolutely the mainstream among the founders of political economy.

The penny didn't drop until some of Ricardo's followers realized that the labor theory necessarily implied that profit was theft that the backpedaling and tracks-covering began.

@Voline @ajroach42 @sj_zero Yeah, labor theory was mainstream until early 20th Century. The economists who proposed marginal utility were doing some anti-Marxist propaganda. But marginal utility is still a better theory than labor. Dismissing as *just* capitalist propaganda would be committing the genetic fallacy.

@midway @Voline @ajroach42 @sj_zero oh, it made *some* sense back in the day. Karl could probably make some excuse about the value of the *social* amount of labor that goes into sex, and it's resulting exchange value :D

@ajroach42 @sj_zero

Agreed. I think maybe we are also referring to markets? But markets have always existed. Capitalism as an ideology has not.

I do wonder though if the core capitalist ideology ever really conceived within itself the ideal of ever unlimited profits? When you read about innovation that improves the costs of production or market equilibrium, it always seems there is some understood need for profit but not exponentially increasing profit.

@ajroach42 The main caveats I see are ISPs trying to throttle things if you self-host, as well as people just paying even more money to Amazon, DO, and others.

@torgny ... Lots of folks self host on raspberry pis and similar on home connections without giving any money to DO.

Amazon is far from the only cloud provider.

Are you sincerely worried, or are you concern trolling because we don't all run co-los? (I'm working on it, but physical infra takes time.)

@ajroach42 No, not trolling... I am sincerely worried for the people that are self-hosting.

The problem as I see it is mainly with the stack Mastodon runs on.

Node + Rails + Postgres + Redis is a pretty high-level hydra when it comes to fighting the battle of scaling.

Which is obviously why a lot of Mastodon servers are facing issues right now and why there's so much talk about how "slow" Mastodon is.

As if Mastodon is a single entity.

@torgny Instances are too big. Mastodon isn't the only fediverse software. Scaling this stuff isn't actually that difficult, but it can be expensive if done poorly.

Is there a sustainable business model? That would require there to be a business. I stated pretty clearly that we're mostly a bunch of hobbiests.

as for the scaling problems, DAUs essentially increased 3 - 5x across the whole network, and 10x on many instances. Show me any company that can absorb that much traffic without a hiccup. None of the places I've ever worked could do it.

@torgny In all seriousness, I'm actively exploring what the expenses would look like for a 10 - 50k user instance, and what the moderation and technical support needs would be.

If we can figure out a way to make it sustainable, we'll do it.

In the meantime, there's no "business model" just people doing a thing because they believe in it.

@ajroach42 I definitely am on the believer side!

I fired this same server up in 2016, ran it for a while and then lost interest because most people were still on Twitter.

Now I'm back, probably for the long haul. And it looks like a bunch of people have made the switch, which is very exciting.

I chose to use DO for this because I am not entirely comfortable hosting a public instance on my home network where I also work.

@torgny We're on DO at the moment, too, but that's transitional until we end up in the co-lo we're spinning up across town.

I've self hosted from a pi in a closet, I've run containers in the cloud, I've run bare metal in bulgaria. It all just keeps chugging along.

The software, for all my complaints, is pretty good. Throw brutaldon.online in to the mix, and it's downright pleasant.

@ajroach42 That sounds awesome! I definitely host things on a variety of different hardware as well.

I finally got my fourth Pi 4 so I can spin up my home k3s cluster that I put in a cute little 1U rack thingie.

@ajroach42

As a new user, I couldn't be happier to have found this place. The core philosophy and intended user experience of this platform feels like a very positive evolution of the technology that connects us.

Learning how to participate and contribute, however, has been a bit of an uphill battle. I wish that there were more resources for onboarding new users.

@Adversarial_Geography It helps on the smaller instances, you normally get a little more handholding.

What help do you need?

@ajroach42 @Adversarial_Geography Butting in to say I have an intentionally small, nurturing instance and you’re welcome to join if it sounds like a place you can thrive.

Andrew, do you think huge 50k sized instances are desirable? It’s hard to build authentic community (imo) with that many people.

@imtheq @Adversarial_Geography I don't, no. I'd rather 1,000 10 person instances than 1 10,000 person instance.

But federation is confusing for some folks, so we'll have to find a middle ground somewhere.

@ajroach42 While it's defiantly an adjustment, I'm hoping this will be a good fit for a weirdo like myself- trans, queer, neurodivergent and NSFW are not really accepted in the greater world, even when you make sure to follow guidelines.

@ajroach42 it would be easy for corporations to embrace and extend fediverse and re-create their own centralized version of it, wouldn't it? It's bound to happen in a couple of years, so let's enjoy what we have right now.

@zenia Would it?

We don't have the same problems XMPP had, and we have better tools for isolating corporate centralization.

What would EEE look like here?

@ajroach42 I'm not gonna pretend I know the protocol, but is there some reason why a company with lots of servers could not offer quick user onboarding and additional services and do so progressively so that it didn't get blocked until it's too late?

@zenia a technical reason? Probably not. Plenty of social ones though.

@ajroach42 From my experience of being on the web since its existence, the majority of people do not have either the curiosity or the energy to try new things. When otherwise intelligent people complain (nicely) that Mastodon is hard to understand, I wonder about how we measure intelligence. Some folks will never try a "new" thing until the one they're used to is gone.

In order to be the viable alternative to the bird site, we'll have to support some big growth over the next few months, and that will take some $.

Who's working on sustainable ways to fund Mastodon, globally and locally? What will create a community spirit of donating to support both local instances AND the movement as a whole? As the movement that takes down Twitter ... what's our equivalent of Bernie Sanders' "$27 bucks"?

(Former Mozilla Foundation grassroots fundraising lead here :-) )

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