I think I’m realizing I want to contribute not to open source, exactly, but to the thing that needs to learn from open source. This paragraph really spoke to me:
In my head, there was a clear connection between the diy punk movement of the 80’s and the folk revival of the 60’s and 70’s. Punk culture was all about doing things yourself, which meant you had to learn how things were done in the first place. For example, if you want to tell people about your favorite bands and find other music fans, then you might make a zine. And in the act of making zines, you were led to learn about traditional printing, type design, layout techniques, and more. Learning about older skills gave you tools for your modern passion. Similarly, for folk-hippies in the 60’s dreaming up societies based on love, there was value in learning the techniques of earlier, simpler societies. These techniques could be used to run their communes, or at least to help fire up the visions for them.
So the tildeverse isn’t interesting because of command line nostalgia, but because that older technology is small and can be made accessible cheaply.
Anyway, this whole piece is worth reading. The Fediverse, the tildeverse, Neocities, the [Indieweb] movement, hell, peer to peer browsers–they’re all coming from different angles at the vast potential of what can be done when we break away from for-profit corporate-controlled platforms. Different philosophies and different emphases are good.
I’m thinking a lot about one part of this piece about Facebook.
The on-again, off-again Facebook executive Chris Cox once talked about the “magic number” for start-ups, and how after a company surpasses 150 employees, things go sideways. “I’ve talked to so many start-up CEOs that after they pass this number, weird stuff starts to happen,” he said at a conference in 2016. This idea comes from the anthropologist Robin Dunbar, who argued that 148 is the maximum number of stable social connections a person can maintain. If we were to apply that same logic to the stability of a social platform, what number would we find?
“I think the sweet spot is 20 to 20,000 people,” the writer and internet scholar Ethan Zuckerman, who has spent much of his adult life thinking about how to build a better web, told me. “It’s hard to have any degree of real connectivity after that.”
In other words, if the Dunbar number for running a company or maintaining a cohesive social life is 150 people; the magic number for a functional social platform is maybe 20,000 people. Facebook now has 2.7 billion monthly users.
What can it mean to try to find your 20,000 instead of leaning on the 2 billion?
What can be done with notepad and a few angle brackets?