Spent a chunk of this morning reading about a new social media site that I guess has launched in some kind of public beta over the last 48 hours: Cohost .
I guess I had some mixed feelings about it, because on the one hand, new shiny thing that says many of the right things (no ads, no algorithmic timeline, worker co-op, here’s a business model, etc.). On the other, does the world really need yet another non-interoperable social media site? Plus the whole trickling out of invitations at the beginning, which may well have a legitimate motivation (i.e. making sure server capacity can cope) but also has the effect of creating artificial scarcity, thus FOMO and “buzz”, right at the start. It reminds me a little of Pillowfort , which got similar “buzz” just as I was leaving on a five-week trip to South Africa so I missed out on that round of invites, aaaaaand by the time I got back I didn’t care about getting an invite any more because the “buzz” was gone, haha. Plus, that site has had some publicised issues since then (although as far I know they fixed them).
Overall I think I’m at the point where I’m like, even though it’s hard not to take a bit of interest in new shiny things, in the long run it is not desirable to have even more sites popping up constantly that can’t interoperate with each other. People should not have to have umpteen different social media accounts just to keep up with friends or interesting content creators who all post on their different preferred platforms. And the fact that most people don’t really want to sustain umpteen different accounts is what leads to a lot of these services getting an initial rush where loads of people sign up, before those people gradually drift away and leave a bunch of “ghost” accounts on a not-very-active platform. I really feel like interoperability is the way to go – the Fediverse is great for that true social media experience (where people control only the content and not the presentation of their posts), while blogging, RSS and IndieWeb technologies work great for people who want a bit more control. (You can also syndicate content between the two, like I do, it’s not an either/or.) When a new Fediverse platform pops up, for example, people can switch to it (or make an alt) if they want, and their existing followers can follow them there without having to create their own new accounts on the new platform, and it’s all just better for the longevity both of individual platforms and people’s social connections. In that sense, a more exciting project is Bonfire , which also went into public beta this week.
I read a few different threads about Cohost (mostly critical) before writing this post – I found pretty much all of them via this Mastodon post so start there if you’re curious. This thread goes particularly into detail about its corporate structure. Some of the threads are harsher than I probably would’ve been myself, since I don’t really feel any hostility towards this project in particular – I just think more silos are not really the answer for the social web. Still, it’s interesting to read what others think of it.