“Is ActivityPub paving the way to web 3.0?” – Maloki

A talk about how we’re walking away from Web 2.0, and paving the way to Web 3.0 with ActivityPub development. We’ll discuss what this could mean for the future of the web We’ll look at some of the history of the web, and also consider the social implications moving forward. :: ActivityPub Conference Praha 2019 – https://redaktor.me/apconf/ A conference about the present and future of ActivityPub, the world’s leading federated social web standard. This two day event will include presentations of prepared talks on Saturday followed by a loosely structured unconference on Sunday, Talk by Marie Axelsson (Maloki)


Recently I got a little bit curious about web 3.0, after noticing the idea seems to be a contractualisation and valuationist take on the web and indeed the internet.

ie All network actions seem to be thought of as Contracts with Values to be executed by blockchains and possibly IPFS (Inter planetary file system).

These seem, to me, very far from a future when the spontaneous need to exchange comes as a without one side using the other’s need for exchange for profit.

I thought that maybe activitypub kinda spaces might develop ways to circumvent - if not outright better - such web3.0 visions and efforts…

Is this the right kind of forum?

Found a short clip from 2017 regarding ideas in a similar kind of direction, but not much else: https://conf.tube/videos/watch/7d0aa9a1-d9fb-4dbd-9183-aec6cdf1ec35

stay safe!


Good questions. Yes, I fully believe that fediverse is different in that regard. First of all the people at the Social Workgroup developing the standards went into it with the right mindset: to create something different and open, accessible for everyone. The W3C Recommendations paved the way for the first applications to arise, with Mastodon being the early adopter. Things grew from there in grassroots fashion. Very important is the culture under which that occurred… the one we find in the free software movement. All Fediverse applications so far are FOSS projects.

Secondly and importantly the people that started using these first applications contributed a lot as well. People that were driven away from the toxic nature of traditional social media, looking for something better. It is not all fun and games of course, there are toxic people too, but so far Fediverse has managed to retain its great culture.

There’s no commercialisation, there are no ads, no trackers (mostly). Addicting user engagement tricks and deception patterns are shunned by the community. And on this basis we are evolving the technology base. As founder and facilitator of Humane Tech Community I find great hope in these developments. I think Fediverse could be a veritable playground, a makers space, for humane technologists.

Very inspiring example here is a recent announcement by @dansup@lemmy.ml the core developer of Pixelfed (the better alternative to Instagram), to revert and remove some features already built. I’ll quote from the toots:

Was recently contacted by someone who mentioned the trending feature has changed the way they use Pixelfed. They find themselves constantly checking like counts and trying to get on the discover trending page by engaging in like-for-like behaviour that is prevalent on other platforms like Instagram.

When I designed the Trending feature, I did not consider the implications of ranking content by like counts. I’ve observed that most trending posts on pixelfed.social belong to a small group of accounts with many followers, making it harder for other users to appear on trending.

Pixelfed cannot be a better and ethical alternative if it ignores the gamification and FOMO dark patterns found on popular platforms. We will fix this. #pixelfed

Wow! Kudos to that 🙏

So yeah, I think Fediverse, ActivityPub et al deserve our attention, and if we are of the right heart and spirit, then Fediverse deserve us :)


Hi. Many thanks for the reply. Yes, its a lovely story between pixelfed dev and users. Thanks for sharing :)

The questions in mind are to do with the current development of seemingly different standards in terms of network computer power/speed, organisation, and culture.

Nowadays, we can claim on activitypub applications that it offers a certain data liberty from info-farms like google, fb etc… However, it’s clear that with blockchain apps the question data usage will alter.

As you point out, the FLOSS culture of exchange for the fun of sharing isn’t likely to go, however, I wonder if this has to remain a question of choice rather than possibly come as an integral constitutive part of the network itself?

The concern is also that once people and tools may migrate from ip and http/s protocols into commercial ones, there’s a possibility of contemporary internet becoming a collectors item or some anachronism.

Maybe i am too alarmist…


I am staying away from blockchain discussions myself (for various reasons), but am following from a distance and mostly via Hacker News discussions on the subject. Until now I don’t feel an inclination to deep-dive into blockchain applications. Maybe in some time mature non-cryptocurrency solutions will be quite attractive. But anyway, I can’t gauge that part of the Web 3.0 storyline :)

As you point out, the FLOSS culture of exchange for the fun of sharing isn’t likely to go, however, I wonder if this has to remain a question of choice rather than possibly come as an integral constitutive part of the network itself?

I am not sure I interpreted this the way you meant. But I see that the overall approach that the FOSS movement applies, has merit for much broader applicability in the business world. People, generally speaking, increasingly crave for “tech-done-right-this-time”. Tech that is open and honest and doesn’t try to deceive or milk you for maximum profit and where only the bottom line is the ultimate deciding factor on product direction.

There is a niche I think for a new breed of sustainable businesses to arise, that - at a much smaller scale, but potentially numerous businesses together - start to compete with big tech. Decentralized technology would be a key enabler for such businesses to be more likely to succeed and indeed survive.

The concern is also that once people and tools may migrate from ip and http/s protocols into commercial ones, there’s a possibility of contemporary internet becoming a collectors item or some anachronism.

Yeah, the threat is vast, you are not too alarmist. We arguably already have a “corporate internet”, but it may go way beyond that towards in inter-connected set of walled gardens by dominant players, where the interconnections are driven by business incentives (partnerships, cartels, oligopolies, etc.)

But alsof for the Fediverse there’s big threats, if there’s commercial uptake in interest for decentralized protocols. This is not unthinkable. The EU with their Digital Services Act might mandate interoperability, and e.g. Twitter with Bluesky is looking into a decentralized protocol. With this latter development, whether they choose ActivityPub or not… both decisions are likely to be detrimental to how Fediverse looks & feels now.

PS. Could you change the post title to something like “What is the role and opportunity for Fediverse in Web 3.0?”.


I am not much of a techie, so apologies for possible misunderstandings that may follow this line ;)

It seems that blockchain oriented p2p - and the whole web3.0 push - has to do with employing so called contracts that push network switches on/off.

ie currently, my browser came to this site,. the server performed a contract with the browser based on “are you friendly?” yes, i am said the browser - i use such and such protocol. and the server was cool allowing access to this site. (put roughly)

If this was a blockchain, that “are you friendly” would have been more like: “give me a proof that i should let you in” the browser would then need to show a “proof” of work/stake/etc. Instead of a general “we use the same kind of protocol” the network becomes much more anonymous yet at the same time Personal. The vetting into content becomes a personal contract that can - and is - being vetted and priced constantly, without a need to use all sorts of forms. (ie at the background)

Yes, this description might be mistaken, however, please bare since the point is that in case Web3.0 has a noticeable Blockchain bias then perhaps relating that bias critically - can make something like activitypub offer a positive difference? ie Offer to do things blockchain can not and stuff that contemporary p2p network can or Does not?

Cheers! xx


There is a lot of complexity in web/internet technology, but the communication between a browser and a server refers to something else than what blockchains are typically used for. Browsers communicate via the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) and the hypertext is your html page (text, images, links).

What makes blockchain special is its trustless consensus mechanism. In a global decentralized web of interconnected (p2p) applications, you want to make transactions with many other parties that you don’t know, and can’t trust. Blockchain solves this, by ensuring a transaction is only committed if it guaranteed is was not tampered with. In cryptocurrency for instance the consensus mechanism is used to solve the “double spend” problem. When I pay someone it takes time for the transaction to be verified, and without blockchain I might make another payment with the same money in the meantime.

Most blockchain technology - like Bitcoin - comes with a lot of downsides, like insane energy use, and incredibly low transaction speed. New blockchain projects try to solve this, but in many applications where blockchain is used, it is not adding much value. Most of the technology already existed before, except for the consensus mechanism, and are often a better choice.

ActivityPub is communication protocol where you sent meaningful messages over HTTP. Such as a ‘Like’ message. You can extend the protocol with your own objects and activities, such as ‘Product’ and ‘Buy’ and in that way build a great variety of applications on top of it.

For peer-to-peer use of ActivityPub we need some changes. HTTP is bound to domain names, and e.g. your phone doesn’t have its own domain. A different protocol below AP is needed, and research is underway to define this (e.g. in the DREAM project). Things get even more complex in P2P context, but eventually we will have a hybrid decentralized Fediverse (federated + p2p).

Social Media Reimagined

This is a companion to Fediverse Futures on SocialHub to elaborate the Fediverse from high-level, non-technical perspectives, brainstorming our visions and dreams.

We need a more holistic approach to fedi development and evolution. We need product designers, graphics artists, UX / UI / Interaction designers, futurists and visionaries to join the dev folks. Everyone is encouraged to join here and enrich our views on what Fediverse can be with diverse and different viewpoints, and to stimulate brainstorming, creativity, thinking out-of-the-box and crazy, wild ideas.

Some guidelines

  • Choose a descriptive title that speaks for itself.
  • Be substantive in your comments and stay on-topic.
  • Treat others as you want to be treated, respectful.
  • Don’t be overly critical, we are just brainstorming.

Our fedi hashtags

#FediverseFutures #SocialNetworkingReimagined #UnitedInDiversity #YearOfTheFediverse #SocialHub #ActivityPub

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