If you don’t want to become that which you despise, you must design your systems accordingly.

Multi-user federated servers are inherently open to economies of scale and thus to embrace, extend & extinguish.

Fediverse servers should be designed _so they cannot scale beyond a certain size_ to ensure no node becomes a centre.

If your aim is to devolve wealth/power/control, vertical scale is your failure mode. If you want to raise mini Zuckerbergs, by all means, scale on…

And, of course, you can go beyond attempting to simply mitigate economies of scale in systems designed to encourage them by designing systems that are inherently _hostile_ to economies of scale.


Through designing systems that use single-tenant servers owned and controlled by individuals as always-on nodes to provide findability and availability in an otherwise peer-to-peer topology.

@aral can you expand on the concept of “hostility by using always on nodes” please?

@filipe It’s more “hostility [to economies of scale and centralisation] by using single-tenant nodes.”

The single-tenant / personal aspect of the servers is the poison pill against economies of (vertical) scale.

It’s also how you remove the complexity of a system that should be able to support hundreds of thousands, if not millions of “users.”

In this model there are users. There is only the person who owns and controls their own node on the web.

@aral no I totally agree with it! But how do you build systems that are hostile towards scaling up? (I’m on a single person instance btw)

@aral never mind I read again and understood!! Our best weapon against capitalism is education :)


How does that stack up from an environmental perspective? Not knowing much about it, it seems hard to imagine how that's not going to necessitate significantly more electricity and hardware than somewhat centralized servers.

@just_a_frog It’s apples and oranges. What we build isn’t spending huge amounts of energy constantly trying to analyse, manipulate, and extract value from billions of people. People farming is an energy hungry operation. Simple tools that people own and use to communicate isn’t.


I mean, possibly? (Don't know how to verify that claim one way or another) But a lot of that will already be greatly mitigated by a federated Mastodon-like structure with many smaller to mid-sized servers. So I do wonder whether there's a point where marginal gains in digital sovereignty will incur a disproportionate environmental cost. Or maybe there isn't. I do think it's at least an issue that needs consideration though.

@aral Case in point: I requested that a Mastodon share button was added to one of the Wirdpress plugins for social media, and they hard coded it to 🙄

@aral well the best option is to have some kind of indieweb ideology: one person ― one website. this is done already. with N nodes, the potential traffic grows like O(NxN) . Pretty clear, it will break in zones , groups of instances , or galaxies, which are intensively interacting to each others, and interacting outside their galaxy from time to time. Like it is doing right now...

@aral there is something like this built into the fediverse already, in that on large instances like, the local and federated timelines will become so full of traffic that they are unusable as a way of finding new people to talk to, giving users an incentive to look for smaller instances that have a local culture they find friendly.

@highfellow Those are usability issues that can be tackled. The bigger issue is what happens, for example, when an instance with several hundred thousand people on it blocks another.

To see where it could lead if we’re not careful, consider that in practice Google decides who can and cannot send email due to the size of the user base of Gmail. If Google says you’re spam, you’re spam.

@aral Been saying this since 2017... Then again, that'd be easy to circumvent/"fix", I gather.

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