Over the years, I’ve been studying a handful of different fediverse platforms that bring a lot of interesting concepts to the table.
As someone that has studied and reported on the developments of these various systems, I’ve decided to put together a summary of things I’d like to one day put into my own federated platform, should I ever develop enough brainpower to actually develop one.
A community dedicated to fediverse news and discussion.
Fediverse is a portmanteau of “federation” and “universe”. It is a common, informal name for a federation of social network servers whose main purpose is microblogging, the sharing of short, public messages.
Getting started on Fediverse;
Agreed 100% on the account proliferation and type asymmetry points. The way things stand, right now, the user’s choice of account provider will determine what actions they can take on the fediverse as a whole. It is a wholly unfortunate state of things.
An interesting exception would be Owncast’s “Fediverse auth” option for stream chatting. That sends a One-Time code to your mastodon inbox for authentication.
As @firstname.lastname@example.org suggested, Solid would be a shoo-in for your “User Data” server. If, that is, Solid could shake off some of its sheer conceptual gravity. People say the fediverse has a geek problem, i.e. only geeks use it. Well, I think Solid has a worse version of that problem. It is only approachable by the deepest loremasters of geekdom. They are also still vague on its actual operation. What’s more, they are still deliberating what their actual security model will look like.
Which makes me sad, because the Solid sounds exactly like what we architecturally need.
EDIT (3:25 am EDT): Just wanted to add on here, I really think that “linked data” and SPARQL were bad, possibly self-defeating decisions for the Solid project. I sorta see their motivation–they want that sweet, sweet flexibility. But I think this approach is not a good solution.
EDIT again: added links
I wonder if Solid could be used to deal with federated ID?
You know, every time I’ve tried to take a look at Solid’s protocol, I find myself struggling to understand what they’re actually trying to do, or how any of it is supposed to work.
I’ve tried to read the protocol spec several times, and my brain just kind of melts. From their About page for the Solid project, I kind of get what they’re talking about, but so much of the under-the-hood stuff feels really vague.
I’m not against making a fediverse platform support Solid, if only to support the core concepts its promoting, but I feel like they have a lot of work to do to make their own project more accessible to people.
I have exactly the same issue and brought up that topic a number of times on their forum. There are other factors than those you mention that keep me from diving deeper. But on the specification front things feel like they are getting more and more complex and seem to strive for “universal interoperability” (sort of a reinvention of the Semantic Web). The way they are positioned and their website has improved to what it was some time ago, though.
On Fediverse we go the opposite direction, where “ad-hoc interoperability” - apps creating extensions on-the-fly, introducing incompatibilities - make interop harder and harder, also increasing the complexity of deeper inter-app integrations. Interop gets to be on lowest common denominator (i.e. bolt on microblogging features) and the risk is that fedi innovation / evolution grinds to a halt, never tapping into its potential. Your great article, Sean, highlights many things that need good processes and people involved that coordinate beyond the scope of building individual stand-alone apps, i.e. at the “substrate” level.
PS. I started a Matrix chatroom Solidground yesterday to discuss some of these issues.
I think you’re spot on with account thing. When I first came to the fediverse, I thought the distributed system was cool, but then I saw the interoperability between different software and though ok, but why would I want to?
If someone posts a peertube video within the medium of lemmy, I also want to discuss it within the medium of lemmy, after all, there’s a reason they posted it here. I want to do it in this community, using this identity. If I wanted to comment on peertube, I would go to peertube.
So the only benefit I saw was that you could use one account for all my social media, as convenience. But of course, that’s not how it works. The interoperability is just a half baked sending messages thing. Because they are fundamentally different platforms not carefully designed to work perfectly with every other platform in the fediverse. There’s no central account, you sign up for a specific software, on someone’s instance.
I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing to have some platforms be specialized around really particular kinds of activities, but I have like 7 different accounts floating around. It’s tiring. I’d really just prefer a good generalist platform and a handful of different apps that all hook into the same account.
That being said, I don’t mind the concept of following someone’s Pixelfed to see their neat photography pics, or another person’s PeerTube to watch their videos. In fact, if my hypothetical server can interoperate with them without any major issues, I’d consider that a win for me.
I did only glance over the article. I like that you think about the fediverse and how to improve it. I’m amazed what’s already possible even at this point right now. However I agree that especially the interaction of different Activity Pub implementations needs to become more natural to use. I want to be able to login with my account on every application on the fediverse, not to have to create one on each platform.
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Huh, I’ve never thought of doing something like that before! Maybe I’ll do some research on adding some kind of TTS functionality to my articles.
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Epicyon already does have hashtag topics, except that they’re called “categories”. They’re also published as an RSS feed by the instance, so other instances can bootstrap off of the categories assigned by others.