Twitter was born when blogs became popular. We can take a look at how Twitter was born:
- Eve Willams founded Prylabs, and its main product, Blogger.com, was acquired by Google;
- After Eve left Google, she founded a voice blog service Odeo (pronounced Audio);
- Odeo developed tepidly, and a minimalist thing called Twttr (later renamed Twitter) was hatched internally;
Therefore, Twitter comes from the attempts, experience and understanding of needs of an entrepreneurial pioneer in the field of blogging and podcasting. Early blogs were all decentralized, such as the most popular Moveable Type at that time, and the earlier Userland's Weblog (the real originator of blogs). However, an important reason why Blogger.com can achieve rapid development is "centralization" Service", which greatly lowers the barrier for users.
The design of Odeo is also very cool and simple, and it can be said to be the most useful voice service at that time. For writing, voice also significantly lowers the threshold for creation. However, one problem with voice is that it raises the threshold for consumption. Listening to voice takes more time and requires more bandwidth (bandwidth was still relatively precious at that time).
Twitter’s core logic: Lower the barrier for creation, consumption and communication
Twitter can be said to be a thing with extremely low barrier for content creation and consumption:
- Centralized, no settings required, just register and use it
- Only 140 characters so it’s less stressful to write and easier to look at
- It has been mobile-friendly since the beginning, and the 140-character limit comes from SMS limitations on mobile phones, but this made Twitter an easy-to-use service on mobile before the iPhone.
Anyone who has ever written an article knows that writing is a tiring task, especially when you have to write a lot of words. Reading is actually a burden most of the time. Twitter makes it easier for everyone to write and read by limiting everyone to 140 characters.
Having worked on Blogger, supported RSS, Atom and other Syndication, and worked as an Audio blog/Podcast, Eve understands the importance of lowering the threshold for creation better than anyone else. Medium, which he founded later, also embodies the same idea.
Challenges of decentralized social networking: barrier of entry
The biggest challenge of decentralized social products is the user threshold:
- Not easy to set up
- Not easy to create
- Not easy to consume
- not easy to spread
Users don't know how to install or manage it themselves, which is equivalent to a throwback to the early blog era. Decentralized social networking lacks a "town square" model. Now that RSS is declining, the biggest problem you face in decentralized social networking is information islands.
Mastodon and other decentralized social products have not become popular for so many years because the barrier is too high.
This is the problem with Nostr's product becoming popular and then going silent. Its popularity cannot be sustained because the barrier for sustainment is too high.
For operations that require a wallet, need to pay gas fees, etc., it will definitely make things worse and further increase the threshold.
The recently popular friendtech is not decentralized at all, nor can it be regarded as a strictly social product. However, it can be seen that compared with its previous products, the biggest feature of Friend Tech is that it lowers the barriers - using web app, installation The barrier is lowered; using a local web wallet lowers the barrier for wallets; using ETH on Base and not issuing coins by oneself, the payment barrier is lowered; everyone has the same Key, and users’ coins are not issued separately, so the barrier for use is lowered . Therefore, an important reason for its success is also to lower the barrier for use.
Do users really care about their data?
Do users care about their data? Or do users care about going to the center? Many skeptics will say that users don’t care about decentralization, users don’t care about their own data, and users don’t care about privacy at all.
In fact, this is not the case. Whether users care or not depends on the barrier for caring about these things.
If the barrier is very low and can be ignored, I believe most people will rather require full control of their own data, identity and privacy, and also care about the degree of decentralization.
If the barrier is too high, few people will
care. Imagine how many
run nodes independently and verify data
independently? Even those who use hardware
wallets are in the minority.
I remember an interesting story. When I was a child, I grew up in a backward rural area of China where there were no buses. I occasionally watched TV and learned that foreign families had cars. I often heard people comment: Who could be so stupid/rich/corrupt/... that they want to own a car? Now, China has been one of the countries with the fastest growth in household car ownership over the past few years.
As long as we can lower the barrier of decentralization to a low enough level, most people would rather fully own their own data than rely on others --- and the two are not contradictory at all. Just like we have our own car, but occasionally we also take Taxi, Uber or public transportation.
Conclusion: The key to decentralized social networking is to lower its barrier. When it breaks through to a tipping point, it will grow rapidly.