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    I have a theory that the real reason this stuff doesn’t take off is because it’s so hard for the average person to run their own instance. In a way it’s not a protocol problem. It’s because the missing killer feature is one click install and run. The missing piece might be making it easy to operate an instance.

    Centralization happens because a company solves the operating problem.

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      I think that problem is mostly mitigated (depending on the platform). With Secure Scuttlebutt, for example, the client is the instance. There is no extra work for a user, though that has it’s tradeoffs. Mastodon, or ActivityPub, has enough instances that individuals don’t need to run their own to get on the platform.

      I think the biggest hurdle is simply inertia. People don’t care enough that a platform is centralized. And once they’ve established themselves on one, it’s very hard to move. It’s like asking someone to drop everything and move to a new country. The language is different, the environment is different, everyone they know is “back home”, and there is no shared interface to continue communicating with those that didn’t follow you to the new place. You’ll need some additional common platform if you don’t stay on the old one.

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        I found Scuttlebutt to have a very high barrier to entry because as you say the client IS the user identity and I’m on 3 different machines in every day not counting mobile so that model REALLY doesn’t work for me.

        See above for my thoughts on Mastodon’s problems.

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          I think you’re on the right track here.

          If folks don’t have a very strong reason to leave a platform, Metcalfe’s law means that platform’s monopoly will only grow & its leverage will become only more powerful. It’s not just inertia, but gravity: these platforms gain power through everybody they bring in, and they gain power based on how long they’ve been there.

          SSB aside (since it’s fairly unconventional in other ways), if Pleroma did the SSB thing and made a straightforward all-in-one turnkey client-and-server install, it wouldn’t move most of twitter or facebook to the fediverse: neither connections nor history would be preserved (and facebook & twitter have an interest in making sure moving your entire history to another service is hard, even if they might be forced to make it possible for legal or PR reasons). If, say, a fediverse instance offered to grab your whole twitter history (which is technically possible but would take a while because of API limits & would probably confuse a lot of other users), it would probably get a lot of pushback (the way that LinkedIn does on the grounds of mining & importing your entire address book by default), even though this would be basically the only way to make a lot of twitter users OK with leaving twitter & moving to the fediverse. (Maybe folks who juggle ten social media accounts are rare.)

          OP has an interesting idea with displaying an alternate feed alongside twitter (and plugins like this exist – I’ve had my facebook trends replaced with reddit for years, as a side effect of an extension intended to do something unrelated), but installing browser extensions is something a lot of users are circumspect about these days. It’s unclear why we should believe people would be more willing to install a weird extension they have never heard of than sign up for a new social network.

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            That’s why the demise of federated chat systems was so sad…

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              Are they actually dead? Would Matrix count?

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                I’m unfortunately not that familiar with Matrix. From its FAQ it does seem to be the solution.

                I was thinking about XMPP. For a while there, with Google’s buy-in, it looked as if chatting to someone would be as easy as sending email. It’s possible XMPP couldn’t be extended to handle voice and video though.

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                  You should check it out. I think it has much of the promise of Jabber, but has already gained much more traction than Jabber ever did outside of Google, sadly.

                  It’s not clear to me that it’s good for point to point person to person chat without the concept of groups/rooms like XMPP is though.

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            I think this is spot on. Mastodon is amazing, but there’s currently this kind of awkward model where setting up an instance is easy-ish if you have UNIX chops but there are a LOT of moving parts and it’s very easy for something to go hayware and cause your instance to fall on its face.

            One particular pain point this awkwardness manifests as is the fact that the instance owner controls the horizontal and the vertical. If your friend Betty pisses off instance admin Bob, Betty’s toast and neither you nor Bob have any say in the matter - this is fine since it’s effectively Bob’s house, but it’s a house with MANY people living there who may not know Bob.

            So yeah, the clear solution is to have everyone be able to run their own instance, but that brings up problems of its own. We need MUCH easier / more accessible ways for people to have little blobs of compute they can “own” for various purposes.

            Digital Ocean goes some way towards this, but we have a long way to go.

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              Email improved on this a zillion years ago. Regular users can buy a domain, then pay a host (and can always port to another host if they like).

              I’m capable of (but not interested in) running a node. I want to forward my records to a host.

              I’ve raised issues for this on mastodon and plemora; the former consider it low-priority, the latter don’t want to support it at all.

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                Yes I agree Mastodon has some work to do in this regard. You can export your toot follower list to a CSV file, but actually using that to get your followers back on a new node can be tricky.

                Much cleaner would be a way to simply say ’export my identity” and have all the data get saved locally as one stop shopping.

                I suspect part of the problem here may be the exceedingly high complexity of Mastodon’s underpinnings, it’s a Postgresql / RoR application under there, and the schema seems complicated to my untrained eye.

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              Centralization also enables easy discovery. For example, it’s not possible to get a comprehensive list of all mastodon instances on the internet. If I say that @whjms I’m on Mastodon, the next question for people is ‘which instance?’. Versus where I can say I’m @whjms on Twitter and everyone knows how to find me.

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                That’s part of the “new language” people would need to learn. “On Twitter” means something specific that we all happen to know. No one says, “Email me at trondd”. We all know the language that emails have to have a domain attached. Same for Mastodon and I don’t see why people couldn’t learn that language like they did for email.

                …Unless they don’t want to.

                I agree with the discovery benefits of a central service, thought. If I search Mastodon for @user and get 50 results, who is the person I was looking for? Although, I find Facebook with real names to have the same problem anyway.

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              Indeed, many proposed standards already do exist, but none has emerged as a common, dominant standard. Blockchain technology—the technology of decentralization—is perfect for this, but not strictly necessary.

              I see.