Great thoughts there. Over the weekend I started using Mastodon and as I started learning more about the GNU Social & mastodon and started using it, the more I see a great hive mind and a next generation network emerging much along the same lines you write there. They have localised instances, which can be small, as a matter of fact niche networks, but because each node or instance is part of a much larger federated network, individuals within the instances can get connected to the larger federation. This is not something that walled garden apps will allow; having said that, the business models are different for each instance within the federation. For instance, #mastodon’s creator Eugen Rochko uses Patreon but there is nothing to stop other creators using other revenue pathways. The result is a giant network of instance nodes that organically talk and share data with each other including nodes on gnu social.
It’s massive, its great and I’d say, it is _the_ future of social networking beyond traditional paths if we care to innovate (at the moment it looks like a Twitter clone but significantly better than the bird site. Would love to hear your impression if you are on it.