A few days ago, while reading an article on The Guardian about online abuse, I started thinking about the role of moderation. Would such a thing be necessary on 10Centuries? What sort of powers would a moderator be granted? Who would be a moderator? Could this lead to a hierarchical social structure on a fledgeling platform? As of this writing, there are 60 people with accounts on the v4 Beta, 31 of which have published a post of some sort in the last 30 days. A group of this size can moderate itself quite effectively. At what point does it make sense to formalize the roles? I decided to ask the question in a Blurb and it lead to a very good question from Pete: What exactly is 10Centuries and is there any reason for anybody who is not me to give a darn and build stuff on the platform?
Last year if you had asked me what this platform was all about I would have said it is a place for people to publish blogs and podcasts that stay online, ad-free, for ten centuries. If you had asked me the same question two years ago I would have answered much the same, but without the podcasting element. If you had asked me four years ago when the service went public I would have talked about blogging from Evernote. The service is in a constant state of evolution as my passions wax and wane. Despite this, my passion for having an ad-free platform that respects people's privacy while hosting data in a future-compatible manner has not diminished. So this begs the question: What should 10Centuries be a decade from now?
There are a plethora of blogging platforms out there that are prettier and better suited for writers of all skill levels. WordPress, Medium, and Tumblr are just three of the more popular places for people to share long-form writing. There are scores of social networks to suit every whim, too. Facebook, What'sApp, Line, and SnapChat are seeing huge numbers of active people interacting daily with aplomb. Podcasting is less popular than the other two mediums, but there are still a number of services that make publishing and distributing a show quick and painless, SquareSpace being one of the more popular tools from what I can tell. Why should anybody care enough to use 10C given its various limitations and constant half-finished state?
A valid question that demands a valid answer, and a change of mindset.
I've often said that I don't expect 10C to become a popular place for people to interact with each other, but why not? Do I say this as a way to denigrate my goals? Do I say this as a way to excuse the lack of growth and barebones financial situation of the project? Do I say this because I am historically bad at handling success¹? There's bound to be some combination of this in the answer, but it's not doing anybody any favours. I've often criticized various social networks for their gimmicky differentiators, but those networks have all enjoyed their time in the limelight, with investors clamouring to give them scads of cash for what looks like a weekend's worth of work by three coders fuelled on pizza and Red Bull. If networks like Ello, Yo, and Emoj.li can attract a hundred thousand people in a month, why can't this service?
Time To Aim Higher
There may not be a great deal of demand for yet another service on the Internet, but I know for a fact that a lot of people do care about privacy and are tired of the endless ads that masquerade as stuff we give a darn about. When I think about what this service has become, I see it as the start of an open platform that stores, organizes, and distributes text. This is where 10C has always excelled dating back to v1 when it was little more than a web presenter for posts written in Evernote. The back-end is designed to support channels of information. Blurbs are part of a channel called "Global". Blog posts are in channels that have unique URLs. Podcasts are the same as Blog posts with extra meta data. The system is, by and large, a mechanism to allow people to share and globally distribute these short bits of information.
It's a social platform. It's a social network.
Blogging is no longer the main focus of 10Centuries. Not by a long shot. Even with the soon-to-be-retired 10Cv2, blog posts and podcasts make up less than 1% of the information stored on the service. The vast majority of the information is in the form of personal archives. Tweets, ADN Posts, Evernote notes, and other objects that are pulled into a single location for faster search. But people don't use the search mechanisms. Most people are completely disinterested in archiving their Tweets and ADN Posts at this time. What people are interested in, though, is communicating with each other in relatively safe places where they are treated as human beings rather than products to be scrutinized and sold to the highest bidder.
This is what 10Centuries needs to become. This is what it can offer to the world more than any other network.
So it's time to get busy and get the service ready to scale. I want to drop the Beta monicker before summer.
Thanks for the push, Pete :)
- Success has come several times in the past with other projects, but it often goes straight to my head. Nobody likes a big ego, and I try to keep it in check.