After the dotcom bust 20 years ago, there was a shift away from attempts to turn the Internet into a portal owned by a single company (AOL, Yahoo, etc) using incompatible and proprietary tech, in favor of open standards.

This spawned a heydey for things like self-hosted blogs, RSS and XMPP powered by Linux. People rejected lock-in and embraced the benefits and freedom open standards brought. Even Big Tech embraced these standards.

So why did it change? There are a few causes, and this pendulum between open and closed tech is always swinging, but to me the single most important cause was the advent of the smartphone.

Smartphones allowed tech companies to rewrite the rules around standards, software, lock-in and as Big Tech companies all sought to control the new personal computer with rules people would have rejected on their laptops. The rush to control SMS and news portals killed XMPP and RSS, respectively.

Why bring this up now? Because it feels like the pendulum is swinging back toward open standards much like after the first dotcom bust. People (some for the first time) are getting a taste of the benefits of open standards. I think we will see a similar era of open standards and tech on the Internet, at least for awhile. But there will be similar attempts to find ways to embrace and extend these standards and lock people back into portals.

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After people get used to tech without lock-in, companies will need new tech that allows them to rewrite the rules. I suspect VR/AR will be the the technology that will allow companies to lock folks back in. It is the next evolution to make a computer that is even more personal than a smartphone.

This is clearly why Meta is all in on this tech and why Apple is exploring the space as well. Whoever controls this tech controls the portal into the virtual and real world. We will need to be vigilant.

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@kyle So, we need a coalition for an . We need , Software developers and people that want to live there.

@kyle Also reunning services 24/7 with even 99.9% reliability is well beyond most peoples capability, and even if they have the capability do they want to do it? I used to have a full rack in a data center to host Now it's an S3 bucket/Cloudflare. Email is Gmail. I don't want to run all these services and deal with spam/trying to get my email not marked as spam.

Isn't the whole point of IT to automate things and make them more reliable? This tends to lead to consolidation.

@kurtseifried In this discussion I'm talking more about open standards than I am self-hosting. You were able to move your email to Gmail so easily because email is an open standard. You could move sites to S3/CF because of the open web standards the services and browsers communicate with.

People who are moving to Mastodon have to wholesale rebuild things from scratch because they were moving away from a closed standard. The lock-in and friction to leave a platform to a competitor is by design.

@kyle THat's actually a good point. A specific reason I moved into Gmail is that I could use impasync to get my email in, and out. However now IMAP access requires an application-specific password for gmail users ( and Worksuite can still login, but I'm beginning to wonder how long until IMAP access goes away because "security reasons"? As for Mastodon, it remains to be seen but I assume at leasr a few people are pitching VC's on setting up massive Mastodon communities...

@kurtseifried @kyle OTOH, do we really need 99.9% reliability for a social network instance with a handful of users? or even for email?

sometimes the server I'm on breaks in the middle of the night, the first one who tries to open it in the morning tells one of the people with the relevant Powers, and it gets fixed.

no need for notifications or anything

no need to bring it back up in the middle of the night when nobody is using it anyway, it will get the messages when it goes back up in the morning.

I think it's on at least 95% of the time, and that's more than enough.

@valhalla @kyle Store and forward protocols are different (e.g. email vs web server) and Mastodon definitely lends itself to higher latency/less synchronized communications. But you'll still have to deal with things like running out of disk space, moderation, paying for the domain name, updating software, backups (you want backups right?) and all that. It's non-trivial work.

It's easy to build a table if you own all the woodworking tools and have a garage and build cabinets for a living.

@kurtseifried @valhalla The beauty of open standards, open protocols, and services built on free software is that it provides the option for folks who are able to, to self-host, most can't/won't, so with sufficient demand, others who are able and willing to, can offer their own hosted services to potential customers (either free or for a fee/donations/etc).

The consumer can then choose the service (and service provider) that best serves their needs, ability, and budget, just like with email.

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