I predict a problem:

Currently mastodon is being run as free software by hobbyist and enthusiasts. They're piggybacking on infrastructure built for much larger projects and customers. You don't build a server hall for a thousand low-tier payers of $15 / month. You build it for the two of those that will need to scale up to the enterprise level, and eventually (now) fedi software will have to scale to that same tier

As the web matures as an industry profit margins will decrease, which will increase the pressures to extract more rent for existing capital in the form of infrastructure. If this happens then fedi is dead unless it can blow for blow match the price ratcheting. This is dubious without a strong culture of donations and support.

The only long term solution is if admins and users own the means of infrastructure. Anything less is a holding pattern or active decay.


Hi there. I'm fairly new to mastodon but know a bit about web infrastructure.

Making sure projects are financially stable (and stable in terms of capacity) is very important to be concerned about.

Would be interested in hearing your thoughts on a company like 1984? ( 1984.hosting/about/ )

So far, though, over the years, when it comes to web hosting, the trend has always been towards allowing people to do more for less money.

If this does change though, in the way that you say, the economy as a whole will likely be pretty fucked, I imagine.

@benx Hi! Sorry for just going to bed straight after posting! 🌳

Welcome to Mastodon! I'm going to set this to public just to keep going on my own thread.

What I want to emphasize is that currently small projects can piggyback off of the infrastructure that is required for bigger projects hosted on cloud providers. There are two reasons why things are cheap for small project at the moment, and there are two strategies that can be taken. Both are bad.

@benx Let's do the reasons for cheapness at the current first.

There is a fine balance between ludicrous profit margins and destitution for companies in narrow industries. Cloud infrastructure is one of these institutions.

What has tipped the balance over the last decades has been the culture of open-sourcing of infrastructure tooling, and Moore's Law. Because of the fact that the servers run open source software, there is little startup cost for software for a competing cloud provider.

@benx What is needed however, is human capital in terms of educated workers for the management, and hardware capital in the terms of CPU's, RAM, Storage, and server hall equipment. These aren't cheap, but they're not mainframe, rocket-science level hard to pull off. As a provider you can also start small and ramp up gradually as your customer base grows.

Now for the reasons why it's been smart for these providers to provide low-cost hosting to people looking to run smaller projects.

@benx 1) The half-life of existing capital invested into CPU, Storage and RAM has been short. This is Moore's law in action and it has tipped the balance in favor of new competitors, because they can recruit the educated workers of the previous cycle, thus not paying for training them, while at the same time getting more performant hardware per dollar than their older competitors. The only thing that matters long term is customer loyalty, and recruitment of the next big thing.

@benx 2) Because of the fact that recruitment of new projects is the lifeblood of cloud providers there's been an enormous need to make it easy to provision new environments for new tenants, because the one that provides the easiest and cheapest setup has the highest chance of getting the golden egg. The one that has the most startups on its customer lists has the highest chance of getting to host the next TikTok, and that is where the big bucks lie.

It is a marketing strategy.



When it comes to big apps you mention (like Tiktok) one thing you have to remember is that most of these sites tend to run at a loss for many years before making profits. They only survive because the have the backing of silicon valley investors (or some other funder) to keep them running, based on their potential future profits.

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the fediverse being decentralised does give it the potential to compete though (similar to how Bernie Sanders got funds through lots of small donations rather than big donations)

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