Substak notes launched today garnering a lot of media attention. As with every new social network that gets a lot of press people are hyped about how it’s the greatest thing ever. I’ve watched people do this going back to Google Plus.
Social networks are not primarily enjoyable places to spend time dude to technical achievement. Twitter became my home on the web, my notes app, and a way to meet people. Twitter’s power was mostly network effect, and cumulative history.
On Twitter is a tool where I could interact with bonified celebrities, befriend a pseudonymous lawyer who became a Pokemon Go buddy, have my work read by people I respect, and dunk on the so called worlds richest man. The technical requirements of that tool are impressive, but less so than the size and quality of the userbase it interconnected.
Hype, brings a flash of users. That’s why Google Plus, and Post both felt super magical in the first days. A lot of people actively trying the new thing make it fun.
What I’m noticing right now is that all the people who all caps REALLY LOVE NOTES have outsized influence relative to the platform. If you had 16k followers on Twitter you were a small-medium fish in a very large pond. On Substack Notes 16k subscribers makes you a very large fish in a very small pond that is for the moment very active.
I remember on Twitter when the most followed users were all geeky tech podcasts. With growth many of those geeks found the platform less valuable as they lost relative status. But Twitter, settled into a kind of normalcy, that rewarded media types, kept famous people hoocked on the platform, and gave average users a way to interact with important folks.
Long before Musk Twitter had ups and downs. In 2019, I knew I should stop using it. But the network was strong, and the years of half finished misspelled thoughts and links I publicly bookmarked (Tweeted) kept me on the site.
What Substack will be is unknown. It’s fun now, because it’s new. It’s also more fun if you have high relative status.
I’d like to see notes succeed. I’d like to see Twitter acquired by Automattic and maintained like Tumblr. I’d love to stop seeing headlines about Elon Musk being a narcissistic airhead. I cannot predict that any of those things will happen with the information I have today.