This is a reply from John Udell, a very smart guy I’ve interacted with a few times over the years. He wisely doesn’t link to the post he’s critiquing, primarily because (ironically) it would give more attention to someone he’s suggesting has a problem weaning themselves off the attention economy.
Udell talks about the ‘sweet spot’ on Twitter having been between 200 and 15,000 followers. The most I had was around 14,500 which seemed pretty awesome for a few years. I did notice that number not going up much after 2014.
But, as he says, the point about saying things online if you’re a regular person is hanging out and discussing things. There are absolutely times when you want to shout about things and make a difference, but that’s what boosting/retweeting is for, right?
If you occupy a privileged position in the attention economy, as Megan McArdle does now, and as I once did in a more limited way, then no, you won’t see Mastodon as a viable replacement for Twitter. If I were still a quasi-famous columnist I probably wouldn’t either. But I’m no longer employed in the attention economy. I just want to hang out online with people whose words and pictures and ideas intrigue and inspire and delight me, and who might feel similarly about my words and pictures and ideas. There are thousands of such people in the world, not millions. We want to congregate in different online spaces for different reasons. Now we can and I couldn’t be happier. When people say it can’t work, consider why, and who benefits from it not working.