Matthew Palmer

The End for Combust

This morning I had to shut down Combust, my social networking app. The server costs were just too much for something that didn’t offer that much utility. The people who were using Combust loved it. It had a totally different vibe to anything else out there, which is the most I could’ve realistically expected. Nevertheless, it’s a sobering moment.

Before I switched off the servers, I shared a few of my thoughts on Combust. But since it won’t be around any more, I’ve decided to repost them here (this, perhaps, serves as a glowing recommendation for blogging).

Imagine if Facebook, Twitter, etc. had political agendas in the same way that news corporations do


Give it twenty to thirty years and we’ll be fucked. We need small, independent methods of socialising in the same way we need indie news sources


But the problem with indie social networks is that they’re not financially viable. You need a critical mass to make the platform compelling, but once you get that mass then you’re not really indie any more


It’s concerning because we’re going to continue socialising online, but we’re only going to be able to do it in maybe 5 or 10 different places.


Imagine if everyone could only hang out in 5 different bars. That’s a disastrous scenario, but that’s what we’ve got, and what we’ll continue to have.


And it’s not just a problem of online/offline. With the bar scenario, everyone could be just as easily manipulated and exploited.


Lack of diversity is one of the worst things in the world, and it’s a problem that ‘success’ often conceals.


I don’t think Combust solves any of these problems, apart from being indie.


Thank you to everyone who used Combust.


05/09/105: Just for the archives, putting a few other resources here.

Looking back at it now, I have a couple of thoughts. 1) The design is totally incoherent. 2) What the hell does this product even do? 3) The music on the video could not be any less suitable. Hindsight.

Combust icon

Combust screenshot

Combust demo video

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