My weekly tech industry newsletter, Command Line, published this interview on April 13. To receive future issues in your inbox, subscribe here.
The drawbacks of centralized social media platforms are becoming increasingly obvious as Elon Musk uses Twitter to attack Substack. For individuals like me who have created a valuable Twitter audience over the years, it’s unsettling to think those ties could be damaged or lost instantly.
That underlying discomfort drives much of Musk’s current anxiety. Zooming out, it’s also why I’m monitoring Mastodon’s ascension. They promise that a Musk-like entity can’t restrict or prohibit someone from the protocol. I like to use the comparison of email service providers: you can potentially be thrown off Gmail and still carry your contacts and emails to another address.
Before Musk grudgingly bought Twitter, former CEO Jack Dorsey funded and spun up Bluesky. This public benefit company built an open-source, decentralized social media platform that he intended Twitter to use. Bluesky is still invite-only, but more users are joining. After opening my account, I wanted to talk to CEO Jay Graber. In her first interview since joining the project in August 2021, she answered some of my questions this week.
Bluesky currently resembles Twitter. It defaults to your followers’ chronological feed and enables you to switch to a “What’s Hot” algorithmic feed. However, the service cannot export account data or fulfill its decentralized objective. The AT Protocol (proto) also lacks a feed algorithm marketplace. Content moderation was described. Early days.
Bluesky’s future intrigues me. It will compete with Dorsey-funded Mastodon and Nostr shortly. Moreover, Bluesky’s philosophy may shape social media’s future.