Which will win? Federated networks or walled gardens? Long-term my money is on the federated networks. Facebook is notoriously shy about posting user numbers, but it appears that the platform has been in decline for a couple years, especially among younger users. I can easily imagine a future without Facebook, say in 10 or 20 years, and it’s becoming easier to imagine a world without The Network Formally Known as Twitter as well. Meanwhile, it’s hard to imagine a future without Reddit. No, Reddit’s steady growth will continue, and Substack’s growth will continue too, no matter what happens with the other larger social networks, simply because the federated nature of the two makes them, well, a lot more useful. They improve the experience of being online.
So writers shouldn’t worry. It’s going to take longer, but eventually the federated model will prove superior, or at least, surprisingly competitively durable. And with the demise of the last big information clearing house in X’s turn toward being a walled garden, there is something freeing about all this. It means that the internet is what you make of it.
I suppose blogs will continue being the little free libraries they’ve always been.