Over in Micro.blog's “discover” feed (parenthetically, I'm again wondering if I should be over there instead of here on Write.as) I found these pretty great thoughts by Ton Zijlstra on technology, scaling, and community, in which he laments technologists “talking about how to create a community for their tech to help it scale”.
While crediting that, yes, some technologies help “communities ... form that otherwise wouldn’t, because of geographic spread, shame, taboo or danger to make yourself visible in your local environment”, Zijlstra argues that tech perhaps should “focus on me using it for my communities as is, and rather present itself as having me join a made up community whose raison d’etre is exploiting our attention for profit”.
This, perhaps, is the failing of Twitter, and one of the strengths of federation, in that what we need are technologies which enable people to support their existing communities, or ones they wish to create, while then also providing bridges into other communities and wider, more general streams of “content”. The model behind Twitter somehow thinks an unfettered river of such “content” alone is good enough.
Sites that are fundamentally about ads (and, really, that's typically what “scaling” is all about: adding more and more eyeballs for what advertisers are serving up, not for what users are doing) perhaps can never also fundamentally be about any sort of community for which it would be worth using that word.