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Number of accounts is the wrong success metric for the fediverse; number of instances is the correct one.

Absolute failure state of the fediverse is 7 billion accounts and one instance.

@aral +1 to that, another failure state would be 7 billion accounts on 7 billion instances.

#blockchain #ecology

@bnjbvr 7 billion people each having their own instance of one/encrypted personal node (and thus having ownership and control over their entire selves and thereby having the integrity of their personhood encapsulated and intact) is actually the ultimate success state of a peer to peer world. It’s the utopia we’re aiming for.

@aral If we can make it ecologically sustainable, totally agreed! In the current state of technology, it probably would be a huge waste of resources, so resource sharing thanks to small sized instances federating is currently more realistic.

@bnjbvr @aral Want to go full Ecological ? Use pleroma. it's like 10 times lighter than mastodon and so consume way less energy.

Another thing to see is the cost of the hardware. Producing new hardware to host a mastodon instance consume a lot of energy. I used to have my own pleroma instance on a 12 years old laptop.

The last point is media downloading. mastodon download all media and keep them. Pleroma, by default, won't and it's your browser that will go

@bnjbvr @aral search them.

Thus, there is way less connexions and I/O on the disk. It's small ecological footprint difference for one user, but if fediverse is to have millions of user, we should go with pleroma, not mastodon.

@aral @bnjbvr
@nvk
Kinda like bitcoin- doesn’t matter how many exchanges there are, and how many users each of those exchanges have,
We need 7 billion bitcoin nodes running.

@Sapakus @bnjbvr Although, of course, nothing like Bitcoin because ours is not a right-libertarian masturbation fantasy that literally converts our habitat into electricity that augments the wealth of a tiny and homogenous group that’s almost-exclusively composed of men. (I’m talking about topological network decentralisation to distribute ownership, control, and power to bolster social justice and human rights.)

@aral First, thank you for your fight for privacy rights as human rights. Privacy is necessary for freedom of speech - correct? Do you believe your money is a form of speech? Do you believe "Money" should be decenteralize ? how do you propose we decentralize money?

have you read the bitcoin white paper or just what the media told you? www.bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf

@Sapakus Hey, Sadiq, thanks. Privacy is a fundamental human right and a prerequisite for our other rights as, especially in the digital/networked age, it safeguards the integrity of our personhood. I wouldn’t conflate money with freedom of speech but it is an important catalyst for agency today (political or otherwise) & a proxy for power so, yes, we must decentralise it. Proof of work is not a sustainable means to do so.

@aral You might think I’m conflating money with speech, but to me, money is a language by which we communicate value. Yes I can click the heart button to tell you I like your work, but to truly support your work, I want/need to give you “money”. I want to do this digitally, I don’t want to meet you in an alley to hand cash or a gold bar.

I also don’t want Silicon Valley, Wall Street, Erdogan or Trump to know I’m saying “keep fighting against Capital Surveillance” to you.

@Sapakus You’ll get no argument from me there :) Although, eventually, I’d like to see us move to a system where we don’t need to support each other with money because we have proper distribution of resources and so you can support me with me hearts instead :)

@aral if we don’t have money, only economic system I can think of is the barter system. Is there an economic theory without money that I’m not aware of?

@aral The reason sending money speaks louder is because a “like” is not scarce. For digital value, we need digital scarcity. For scarcity, we need to solve for the double spend / problem.

@Sapakus Or we need to move to a system where we don’t create artificial scarcities because we want to be the ones who benefit from them. While a closed system like the Earth has scarcity as a given, the problem we have today is not one of resources but distribution of resources. (Given our postindustrial waste of resources, that statement becomes less true with every second that passes unless we do transition to a sustainable model.)

@aral @aral

Money, by definition has to be scarce. Digital money needs artificial scarcity.

It also needs to be backed by something and not made out of thin air.

that fact that 80% of the supply has already been mined sucks. And yes it greatly benefits those that were early in accumulating. But what matters is they can’t increase the supply

One of the biggest reason for the gap in wealth inequality is because the wealthiest get to print more.

@Sapakus @aral Creating artificial scarcity only gets you things like the p2p wars and academic paywalls.

As a first approximation, money is the ability to have power over other people. To command them to do things in the past or future. If you have no money, and are a proletarian, then you have next to no influence over anything. If you have a lot of money then you can command people to do arbitrary things, whether they agree with you or not. Speech is just the protocol used to issue commands.

If we decentralize money we do also decentralize power within society. We don't really have good ways to decentralize money at present. Bitcoin didn't scale and became defacto centralized.

Important to note is that if money were to be successfully decentralized then people who are currently powerful - Wall St bankers, etc - suddenly lose their power to command others. It vanishes like a lifting fog. Their billions become worthless database numbers. That's the upside. The downside is that decentralizing money creates a global economy of powerful exchange merchants arbitrating between the various currencies. As we saw with Bitcoin, these merchants become centers of power themselves and really just replicate the worst aspects of capitalism.

@bob @aral I agree that money gives you power over people, that’s why it’s so important for it to be decentralize. I have no issue with money NOT existing- I just don’t see us going back to the barter system.

I would argue that decenteralizing money actually gets rid of these powerful exchange merchants. If we were to move to a Bitcoin standard, there would be nothing else to exchange with.

@Sapakus @aral If you move to a bitcoin standard then a few companies in China become the most powerful entities, because they decide what does or doesn't get into the blockchain.

You can't ever really get rid of power. It always exists, and the problem of the distribution of power is the problem of post-agricultural societies. The best we can do is to try to devise systems which prevent the concentration of power. If money didn't exist then there would still be formal and informal representations of power.

@bob @aral
1. Bitcoin miners do NOT get to decide what gets in and what doesn’t get in the blockchain. That’s just false. Bitcoin miners only secures the blockchain, they do not have the power to censor. Every transaction gets propagated across the network to every node. And every node validates transaction. If a miner doesn’t mine by the rules, their latest block gets rejected by my node. And any one can run a bitcoin node, I run it on a raspberry pi.

@Sapakus @aral I don't think you've grokked the political economy of Bitcoin. Some miners are bigger than others. A LOT bigger.

@bob @aral no, I think I do. But I also think we are close to the peek of centralization and can only decentralize from here.

Reason is, the ASIC miners available in market 2 years ago can’t compete with smaller energy efficient chips. I believe the latest bitcoin miner have a 7nm chip- Moore’s law predicted the advancement to slow down right about now. The new individual miners can compete for longer.

DYK you can run a bitcoin miner at home?

@bob @aral

2. Yes a lot of miners did centralize in China, due to the fact that the electricity was cheap there. But their own govt cracked down and from I know a lot of them moved to Canada & Iceland 🤷‍♂️

It doesn’t matter where the miner is. I know people that run miners in USA.

@bob @aral as a comparison to gold standard, the issue was gold’s inability to be used as medium of exchange. It’s not very easy to divide so it centralized by nature and banks started to print money. First backed by it, then out of this air when no one was looking.

Bitcoin doesn’t have that problem. It’s divisible and can move it over wire.

@aral When you make a purchase, the merchant needs to be sure you have not already spent that money. Only way to be sure is to be aware of all previous transactions that anyone can verify to not have been mutated.

@aral Modifying previous transactions is an attack on the network. Proof of work makes attacking the network costly. You have to spend shit load of electricity to re-write history.

@Sapakus But you also spend a shit-tonne of electricity writing history to begin with. A little bit of trust (e.g., a web of trust) and/or a content-addressed initial pool of currency, etc., can remove that requirement. Proof of work is simply not sustainable.

@aral yes, it takes resource to secure the ledger. Trusted third parties are a security hole. What you’re referring to is what we already have. I just trust my Bank of America, and you trust your Bank of Europe. But can you trust the bank of Turkey? Venezuela? Zimbabwe?

@aral DAGs are interesting and could possibly replace some of SV backed bullshit centralized blockchain projects, but I’m not aware of anyway to reach consensus without a central authority using just DAG + PK Cryptography. Proof of work is a feature, not a bug.

@aral If bitcoin is successful in making central banks and SWIFT obsolete, imagine the energy required to run bank locations, their data centers, ATMS, etc that can be saved. Bitcoin could potentially help drive us towards renewable energy. Plus, it can’t be worse than bombs.

@aral by decentralizing money, you can decentralize political power as a side effect.

youtu.be/joITmEr4SjY

@Sapakus Personally, I’m far more interested in exploring how we can decentralise all forms of power primarily via topological decentralisation coupled with systems based on directed acyclic graphs and public-key cryptography.

@Sapakus @aral Money isn't speech. It's a representation of the ability to command labor power in the past present or future.

@bob @aral money isn’t just speech. Money is ability to store value. I work hard now, save money, so I can afford to not work later and instead buy labor.

@Sapakus @aral Money isn't really a store of anything. A number in a database or a hash in a blockchain doesn't store anything. It's not like grain being stored for the winter.

Money is about political power. Power over other people. You can of course use that power to get folks to store grain for you, but that's just one application of power.

@bob @aral

Money has been used as a system of control for so long, we have forgotten the original need for it.

Barter system doesn’t scale, therefore we needed a way to store value. If I’m a tomato farmer, I need to save some of earning for a few years so I can buy a house later. I can’t just save tomatoes, they’d go bad.

Money is used a system of control if you rely on trusted third parties to control the supply and approve transactions.

@Sapakus @aral Untrusted third parties like Chinese bitcoin mining companies

@bob @aral

By Chinese companies, are you referring to the manufacturer of ASIC miner chips or the mining facilities?

@aral @bnjbvr where would you recommend the best explanations of #instances? There's a lot to learn, and it's something that outside of the fediverse I haven't seen at all.

@eevb @bnjbvr Instances are servers. The closest analogy is email. While mastodon.social may be like Gmail, sans the evil business model, in that it is a very large server, anyone can run their own email server because, like email, Mastodon is based on an open protocol and the codebase itself is free and open source. So I run an instance just for myself (“an instance of one”). That brings it a step closer to resembling a peer-to-peer system.

@eevb @bnjbvr But, sadly, the trend in multi-tenant designs is towards centralisation. We saw this with email, the Web (where a web server is an “instance”), and we are seeing it with Mastodon too. The complexity and resource overheads of multi-tenant designs create economies of scale that incentivise centralisation. Federation is a good stop gap but if we want a peer-to-peer world, we must transition to single-tenant designs where every node is equal.

@eevb @bnjbvr (On the latter point, see social.wxcafe.net/@ngaumont/10 for discussion on the Gini index of Mastodon and the current ratio of instances to accounts – both of which paint a very centralised picture, as expected of a multi-tenant design.)

@aral I think I’ll work on instance monitoring and upgrades. Atm we have too many old/outdated instances. We need to up our security/maintenance game a bit.

@aral I'd expand that to the diversity of server and client software too. I think it's a really good sign that I see people from ActivityPub instances running Pleroma rather than Mastodon; no single point of failure or control, even in the software stack.

@aral Probably the even better metric is the average number of active users per instance towards an ideal (which is probably around 1000-5000 users?).

And when we add now either the number of instances or the absolute number of active accounts, we hopefully to a really good success metric.

@aral That feels accurate on some level and completely wrong on another one, but I can't yet completely describe why... 😐

@z428 @aral I'd venture to guess that it's because success is never about a single metric. Success is when multiple independent metrics all look good.

Just my 0.02

. @aral But who can afford to run a single instance with 7 billion—

…Oh.

@aral We beat Zuck at his own game—by playing a different game.

@aral And we're currently losing 10 instances/day since friday's rush, unfortunately.

Also, I feel like the curent instances are not very sexy. What is nrd.li, brrrt.eu, pouet.apdu.fr, what is...?

Where are social.archeology.com, mastodon.premierleague.co.uk, masto.beers.be... ?

Where are social.brooklyn.nyc, social.queens.nyc, social.bronx.nyc...?

I think the success to having more instances (and therefore a more successful fediverse) is how easy it is to install and maintain it.

@vanecx Do you have a source for that? Has anyone written anything on it? Worrying if true - would love to understand why if it happening.

@aral

Here : sp3r4z.fr/mastodon/
(the link "Instances evolution day by day"). Note there was one fake instance on friday with exaggerated number, hence the sudden increase/decrease of users in 24h.

The author

@aral agreed, but daily users would surely be a better metric?

@James 7 billion active users on 1 instance is still the absolute failure mode.

@aral very true, but so is 7 billion instances with 1 user on each! Fully agree though that number of users is a wonky metric, there needs to be 3 or 4 metrics to give a more nuanced/balanced view :)

@aral by the same measure, 7 billion+ instances with one account on each would be a wonderful thing, where an instance can run even on the lightest and cheapest device.

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