The future of platforms will look much different than what we have now and what is being produced now to “replace” the big platforms of today. It will not be “one big platform” with a few features but, rather, a multiplicity of niche platforms with more extensive features but which can broadcast their users’ content to the greater world at the same time.
Picture a vast network of platforms that also connect to each other through an ecosystem allowing you to access content from or broadcast your content to various other platforms from within your digital honeland, or home platform(s), where you spend most of your time.
Imagine these platforms are niche-based, in other words their user base has common values and beliefs which one must both share and adhere to as community standards. But as to enforcement of these standards, users who demonstrate active and positive engagement in the platform become the actual first line of comnunity governance: you are governed by and you govern your peers while in this platform.
A platform in the future will have to be more feature rich in a way that brings daily value to users. It will likely require subscriptions for content/features so as to avoid being owned by sponsors. It will have to have a means of broadcasting its user content (as the user wishes) to the greater world.
These platforms will have to be more decentralized, with networks, hubs, and groups that are mostly user based, and they will mostly be governed by the users themselves. Users might earn status and standing through engagement and participation, which gives them more merit-based clout in governance. But governance will be more fair, objective, and user-based than anything we have now.
As to governance, it is perhaps the most important aspect of a platform, even though its practice and implementation today is utterly abysmal and unprofessional. Users are reduced to guessing and hoping they don’t run afoul of “standards” that they barely understand and/or that are subjective and arbitrarily applied. This is mostly a result of low staff numbers and other users gaming the complaint or reporting system.
Niche platforms, not wild west “free speech platforms”, are the future. People don’t actually want to be in a digital space that has offensive content, they generally want a place to exist online that is more or less reflective of their values and beliefs but that also somehow allows them to communicate with the outside world.
Don’t think of these niche platforms as echo chambers, especially since they will also be connected to other platforms throughout a common ecoystem, rss feeds with commenting features, or api hooks. You will be able to meet and engage with people on other platforms through this ecosystem, not just people you already agree with.
The need and desire for affirmation and nurturing of your values is real. So also is the need to engage outside your group and hear and see challenging ideas. We cannot be all this or that, we cannot be all “niche” or constantly in debate mode with people who challenge our beliefs and values. There is a time and place for everything, a balance between the need to be nurtured and affirmed and the need to engage and be challenged.
The “niche-to-pluralistic-ecostystem” approach balances these very real human needs. It does so from a user-centric perspective, giving most governance power to users, not some technocracy of the few lording it over the many in an arbitrary fashion.
It is not our intention to replace the big platforms or to be the next this or that. It is not our intention to merely create walled gardens or echo-chambers where only one set of beliefs prevails. We see that through creating interconnected niche communities we balance nurturing with exploration.
The concept of the interconnected ecosystem is to create a open-source mechanism, not owned by anyone, that connects many platforms. It allows users to push content to anyone in the ecosystem that wants it or through aggregation sites using the ecosystem. It allows users to pull in content to view within their own “wall” or “timeline.”
A universal commenting system that allows anyone in the ecosystem to comment and engage a user’s content, if they turn this feature on, also encourages a balance between the niche community nurturing its members and the need to reach and engage the greater world.
We will not build a new platform that is the next big platform without billions of dollars and a way to capture hundreds of millions of users quickly. What is more, even if we did have such resources, this top-down, industrial approach to the web is best left in the past. It’s terribly disempowering.
We want to start with our own niche communities and then find ways to collaborate on an open source basis with other niche communities to create a common ecosystem not owned by anyone. Our aim is the true democratization of the web, web 3.0, where users in niche communities and within a greater pluralistic ecosystem are the primary source of governance.
Web 3.0 is a radically decentralized and democratized ecosystem of niche communities for every type of person and interest.