I got asked, this morning, what the “fediverse” is. I gave my best under-10,000 word description, but wasn’t terribly satisfied with it.

After I was done, it occurred to me that one could liken big social media companies to large, centralized sewage treatment plants. It’s very convenient: you dump your sewage into a big pipe, and someone in a big complex of buildings far away decides what to do with it.

Conversely, the fediverse is more like having septic systems either for individual dwellings, or small- or medium-size communities. You have more control over the ultimate disposition of your sewage (perhaps you would like to see it converted to fertilizer instead of just leached into the local water supply), but you also have responsibility for dealing with problems when things go wrong.

Of course, social media content isn’t sewage, much as it might resemble it sometimes. You want your sewage gems to be shared with others who are interested. And, of course, there’s no chance of the contents of your septic tank going viral (although the folks at Biobot Analytics might disagree).


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