The weakness of the protocol, as presented in my demo client, was that you could only design your board by writing raw HTML and CSS. That’s fine for the nerdiest among us, but still a bit forbidding for everyone else. A better client would provide built-in templates, maybe a little WYSIWIG editor — you can imagine this easily. For my part, I settled on a simple design: a blood-red headline in 72-pixel italic Bodoni over an acid green background. Someone said to me, not a little bit archly, “So, really, you made all of this because wanted to tweet in a 72-pixel font.” And I had to confess that maybe I did. On this front, I am an evangelist: arbitrary HTML and CSS should have a place in our social networks. They are so expressive, and they are available everywhere, on every device, essentially “for free”.
Platform design seems to me now like a sharp hilltop with steep slopes descending in both directions. A platform built around twitchy compulsion will trend towards addiction; a platform built around stolid patience will trend towards … forgetting about it.
If only you could balance perfectly at the summit. Alas, I don’t think it’s possible. The opportunity before us, as investigators and experimenters in the 2020s, isn’t to make Twitter or Tumblr or Instagram again, just “in a better way” this time. Repeating myself from above: a decentralized or federated timeline is still a timeline, and for me, the timeline is the problem. This digital medium remains liquid, protean, full of potential. Even after a decade of stasis, these pixels, and the ways of relating behind them, will eagerly become whatever you imagine. So: imagine!