Mastodon, BlueSky, and Highlander Syndrome

I am total agreement with Jamie Zawinski here. There is no way I will trust anything that Jack Dorsey has anything to do with. He’s either incredibly naive – in which case he should be nowhere near a service which requires trust and safety to be at the front of everyone’s minds – or he knew what Musk was like and didn’t care (in which case… you guessed it).

I don’t, though, really care if people jump from Twitter to BlueSky. There is room for more than one successful microblogging platform and different people will have priorities which aren’t the same as mine. I don’t particularly want to spent a massive amount of effort on a centralised service, but you might feel differently.

There is a lot of Highlander syndrome here: “there can be only one” social network which wins, there can be only one platform which everyone must be on. Some of this comes from the narratives which tech journalists love to write about. Conflict sells, conflict drives clicks, and if you can personalise the conflict to two “heroic founder” figures duking it out, all the better.

This isn’t, by the way, some kind of failing solely in journalism. Our oldest and most fundamental narratives frame things as battles between giants. The myths of gods and heroes are full of them, and seeing founders in the same vein is just part of the same old story. We do it with kings, religious leaders, scientists, you name it. Even our efforts to celebrate the collective often devolve back into hero worship. We’re just not very good at celebrating the collective, unless we have a clear enemy to stand against.


  1. Ian Fogg: @ianbetteridge Just saw your “Highlander” social networks post. Have been thinking through the same question.If two services are too similar, then I think one will crowd the other out and become dominant. Think YouTube over Daily Motion.But if they are differentiated in value and/or experience they can both succeed. Example: YouTube & TikTok. via



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