After nearly two decades of fighting for this vision of the internet, the people who believed in federation feel like they’re finally going to win. The change they imagine still requires a lot of user education — and a lot of work to make this stuff work for users. But the fundamental shift, from platforms to protocols, appears to have momentum in a way it never has before.
Our smarter, richer betters (in Babel times, the king’s name was Nimrod) often preach the idea of a town square, a marketplace of ideas, a centralized hub of discourse and entertainment—and we listen. But when I go back and read Genesis, I hear God saying: “My children, I designed your brains to scale to 150 stable relationships. Anything beyond that is overclocking. You should all try Mastodon.”
So many gems in this piece by Paul Ford:
The Fediverse apps are all built on a set of rules called the ActivityPub standard, which is a little like HTML had sex with a calendar invite. It’s a content polycule. The questions it evokes are the same as with any polycule: What are the rules? How big can this get? Who will create the chore chart?
Mastodon is not a platform. Mastodon is just a tiny part of a concept many have been dreaming about and working on for years. Social media started on the wrong foot. The idea for the read/write web has always been different. Our digital identities weren’t supposed to end up in something like Twitter or Facebook or Instagram.
Decentralisation, Federation, The Indie Web: There were many groups silently working on solving the broken architecture of our digital social networks and communication channels – long, long before the “web 3” dudes tried to reframe it as their genius new idea.
I’ve been a part of this for many years until I gave up hope. How would you compete against the VC money, the technical and economical benefits of centralised platforms? It was a fight between David and Gloiath. But now Mastodon could be the stone.
Pluralistic: Better failure for social media (19 Dec 2022) – Pluralistic: Daily links from Cory Doctorow
Mastodon has gotten two things right that no other social media giant has even seriously attempted:
- If you follow someone on Mastodon, you’ll see everything they post; and
- If you leave a Mastodon server, you can take both your followers and the people you follow with you.
The most common criticism of Mastodon is that you must rely on individual moderators who may be underresourced, incompetent on malicious. This is indeed a serious problem, but it isn’t the same serious problem that Twitter has. When Twitter is incompetent, malicious, or underresourced, your departure comes at a dear price.
On Mastodon, your choice is: tolerate bad moderation, or click two links and move somewhere else.
On Twitter, your choice is: tolerate moderation, or lose contact with all the people you care about and all the people who care about you.
If you rely on Word, Evernote or Notion, for example, then you can’t work unless you have Word, Evernote, or Notion. You are helpless without them. You are dependent.
But if you only use plain text, you can use any program on any device, forever. It gives great flexibility and peace of mind.
I’m very taken with Github’s tab-container element—this is exactly how I think web components should be designed!
A good explanation of web components, complete with some code examples.
Web Components are not a single technology. Instead, they are series of browser standards defined by the W3C allowing developers to build components in a way the browser can natively understand. These standards include:
- HTML Templates and Slots – Reusable HTML markup with entry points for user-specific markup
- Shadow DOM – DOM encapsulation for markup and styles
- Custom Elements – Defining named custom HTML elements with specific behaviour
A step-by-step guide to unDRMing your Kindle books—a prudent course of action given Amazon’s recent unilateral wiping of Kindles.
Watch this space. Glenn has a really interesting idea (and implementation) for exchanging structured data between browser windows using drag'n'drop.
Kellan outlines the bare minimum you should expect from any service that you are putting data into.
Blaine outlines the vision for Webfinger.
Okay, I know I said "holy freakin' crap!" the last time I linked to one of Glenn's Social Graph API experiments but now he's gone and created a Firefox plug-in: press alt-i and you can see the social graph for anyone's site. Holy freakin' crap!
Paul Mison shares his thoughts on moving towards a decentralised web of services rather than silos of data. "Now I'm wondering: is there a space for a piece of user-installable software, like Movable Type or Wordpress, that aggregates their data from sites across the web, and then presents it as a site? If there is, is it even possible to write it in a way that anyone who couldn't have written it themselves can even use it?"
Glenn has created a screencast of his superb Skillswap presentation, syncing up the audio with the slides.
Steven Pemberton's talk from XTech 2008 in Dublin is becoming more relevant with each passing day as yet another service shuts down; Pownce, Ficlets, Stikkit...
Ben has written a superb article outlining the hows and whys of distributed social networks with hCard and XFN, finishing with an inspiring call to arms.
All of Google's data APIs (Calendar, Blogger, Contacts, etc.) all now support OAuth. Excellent!
Scott Kveton rips Chris Saad a new one, and rightly so. We all sent Chris the same message at Social Graph Foo Camp, he's had enough time to shape up but instead things have become increasingly hype-laden and bullshitty with him.
Excellent explanation of DRM by Mark Pilgrim, prompted by MSN Music's gunshot to the head.