This is an important article by Ton Zijlstra about “distributed technology” and the long tail. In fact, he applies it to Mastodon, a decentralized combination of microblogging and virtual communities. I quote:
This is the notion that tool usage having a long tail is a measure of distribution, and as such a proxy for networked agency. [A long tail is defined as the bottom 80% of certain things making up over 50% of a ‘market’. The 80% least sold books in the world make up more than 50% of total book sales. The 80% smallest Mastodon instances on the other hand account for less than 15% of all Mastodon users, so it’s not a long tail].
Long tail forming as an adoption pattern is a good way then to see if broad distribution is being achieved.
Mastodon is not there yet. It should do more to entice people to start their own instance, their own micro-community. So why don’t I start my own instance? I consider doing so, for instance about VR or virtual worlds. The financial burden would be very modest. I worry more about the moderation duties. I so don’t like getting into fights with people about online behavior. Starting a group about virtual worlds and having to clean up virtual porn images all day does not appeal to me. But maybe there are clever ways to organize a Mastodon instance, avoiding all that hassle.
(Hat tip to Stephen Downes who discussed Ton’s post in his newsletter and on his site)