Almost exactly six months after Twitter got taken over by a petulant edge lord, people seem to be done with grieving the communities this disrupted and connections they lost, and are ready, eager even, to jump head-first into another toxic relationship. This time with BlueSky.

  • @tardigrada@beehaw.org
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    1410 months ago

    it decentralizes the cost to the central authority by pushing data load onto volunteers

    the sad reality is that people will buy the hype

    I have been discussing BlueSky some time ago with a friend of mine, and we soon agreed exactly on these two things. This is an excellent article, thanks for sharing this.

      • @heady@beehaw.org
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        10 months ago

        AP does push the data load onto volunteers (the operators of servers) but those volunteers gain some autonomy in doing so. The important part of that quoted segment is that bluesky has distributed the costs but not the authority, in other words taxation without representation.

        • anji
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          410 months ago

          It’s not exactly clear to me, however, how important this second layer controlled by BlueSky is. Anyone could likewise build an indexing and searching layer on top of ActivityPub (I’m sure someone already has).

          If BlueSky’s first layer is truly decentralized like ActivityPub, instances have at least some comparable amount of control, no?

          • @heady@beehaw.org
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            810 months ago

            At this stage we can’t really know what the future of it will be. My take away is that the early indicators for bluesky are not promising (ie; venture funded, leadership with bad track record, invite only, launched with the decentralization not actually implemented yet) while the AP alternatives of mastodon, plemora, calckey etc are already a living example of a decentralized network.

            Bluesky so far to me sounds more like a strategic concession to give up the minimum amount of control to users in order to maintain the overall pyramid of social media. Facebook won the competition but people have started to question the privacy implications. If bluesky is successful in convincing the masses that it resolves the privacy question then the competition is reset to which tech giant can dominate that second layer, which of course is currently operating in a manner as to give themselves the first mover advantage.

            I am far more optimistic that AP will continue to grow and improve than I am that some kind of benevolent floss implementation will succeed on that second layer of bluesky (if one ever gets the chance to compete at all).

          • @rysiek@szmer.infoOP
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            610 months ago

            This is answered in the blogpost:

            And once you’re the biggest game in town, people will optimize for you (just look at SEO and Google Search). It won’t matter much that people using the network can freely choose a different algorithm, just as it doesn’t matter much on the Web that people can choose a different search engine. And the more I read about BS’s protocol, the more I think this is done on purpose.

            Why? Because it allows BS to pay lip service to decentralization, without actually giving away the power in the system. After all, BlueSky-the-company will definitely be the first to start indexing BS-the-social-network posts, and you can bet Jack has enough money to throw at this to get the needed compute. I guess decentralization is a big thing lately and there are investors to scam if you can farm enough users and build enough hype fast enough!

            (…)

            Of course, fedi could also have some search and discovery algorithms built on top. Operators of such algorithms (there had been a few attempts already) would also benefit from being first and going big. But their potential power is balanced by the power fedi instance admins and moderators have (blocking and defederating) and by the fact that fedi is perfectly usable without such algorithms. And by strong hostility of a lot of people using fedi towards non-consensual indexing.

            You might be interested in reading it, might answer other questions you perhaps have.

        • Hm. I should probably read the spec, but I’m having a hard time getting motivated.

          I’ve been quite disappointed with AP, and especially the Mastodon, community. Nostr content is slightly better, if you can avoid the worst of the Bitcoin spam brigade, but the protocol is vastly more interesting.

          Given the overwhelming dominance of AT by Bluesky, I think I’ll wait until it’s evident they have no more influence than anyone else, before I invest any effort into it. I feel as if it’s otherwise going to end up like AP, with the 900lb gorilla calling the shots and everyone else trying to play catch-up.

          https://gts.superseriousbusiness.org/@gotosocial/statuses/01GZEBDK1JGTNJZ8SCPXA274RY

  • Arthur BesseA
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    610 months ago

    Have you read their blog post titled Composable Moderation?

    imo it is the ActivityPub world that is cosplaying decentralization.

    AT Protocol (BlueSky) seems sort of like AP except if it were designed by people who knew about cryptography and content adressability and who saw that using those tools allows for building systems where where users don’t need to rely so heavily on the node operators.

    Right now, if your AP server changes their policies in a way you don’t like, or simply disappears, your only recourse is to make a new account elsewhere. If your old server is able and willing to facilitate it, you can leave a pointer to your new identity, but you can’t take your history with you.

    This gives the (mostly hobbyist sysadmin) server operators that most people rely on enormous power, not to mention responsibility.

    Having cryptographic identities that are not permanently tied to whatever provider you selected is the solution to this problem, and that is the main reason why ATP exists.

    BlueSky hasn’t actually turned on federation or public signups yet; it remains a centralized invite-only website right now. But I’m pretty confident that both of those things will be changing soon, because the point of the project is to build a resilient decentralized protocol.

    It had 4K users a couple weeks ago, and 50K today.

    They implemented the “block” feature yesterday. This is what it looks like:

    (Like any system where you are publishing things that are public-by-default, the “they will be prevented from seeing yours” part can of course be easily circumvented, but, like twitter and mastodon etc they are adding a speedbump that will help in many circumstances.)

    BlueSky also already has a system for flagging different categories of sensitive content, much like Mastodon’s CWs. This is what it looks like currently:

    If your complaint is that “node operators will have no agency in the system”… lol, i guess that is kind of the entire point of it? Of course ATP server operators will have the agency to not host content or users that they don’t want to, and to provide their users with whatever moderated views of content anyone wants to build. But, they won’t have the agency to hold users hostage to the admins’ whims like they do today in AP.

    With ATP, the idea is that users (most of which are not going to be node operators, in either system), instead of admins, have the agency to change their decision about who to rely on to keep their data available, and also the agency to define what they want to see and what they want to not see (without having to start over when someone else changes their policies).

    But the user-and-or-server agency I think you are worried about BlueSky taking away is not related to the technical differences, but rather the social/cultural ones: it’s the false promise of agency that Mastodon promotes by pretending it’s possible to have the benefits of a public-by-default conversation without the negative effects of it being searchable/discoverable (aka public). One could actually build things with that philosophy on top of ATP as effectively as it has been done on AP, and perhaps someone will, but indeed the current developers seem unlikely to run an anti-search-ethos server themselves.

    • @rysiek@szmer.infoOP
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      10 months ago

      imo it is the ActivityPub world that is cosplaying decentralization.

      ActivityPub has a over 20k different independent instances, mostly federating with one another. BlueSky has one, and if you try to set up an independent one, it won’t federate.

      I mean, I’d laugh, but it’s not even funny.

      BlueSky also already has a system for flagging different categories of sensitive content, much like Mastodon’s CWs.

      You are confusing content warnings (not exposing others to potentially triggering content you post) with moderation (making it hard to harass users). These are two very different things.

      • @tardigrada@beehaw.org
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        610 months ago

        ActivityPub has a over 20k different independent instances, mostly federating with one another. BlueSky has one, and if you try to set up an independent one, it won’t federate.

        Yes, and the current owners have no economic incentive to change that. It’s a project backed by financial investors, which means they’ll want to get back as much money as possible as soon as possible.

        Don’t get me wrong, this is not some “venture capital bashing”. It’s their full right to earn their money back and do with their companies whatever they want. If I were a financial investor, I did the same (what is ignored in many discussions on this is the fact that the vast majority of VC investments fail due to their high-risk nature, but that’s a different story). I just argue that if you want a distributed and/or decentralised system, you likely need a different kind of funding and a more decentralized form of decision making.

        • Arthur BesseA
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          210 months ago

          Yes, and the current owners have no economic incentive to change that. It’s a project backed by financial investors, which means they’ll want to get back as much money as possible as soon as possible.

          Their initial funding came from twitter, but twitter doesn’t own it. The BlueSky Public Benefit LLC is owned by the founding team, many of whom have been working on decentralized protocols (SecureScuttlebutt, IPFS, Hypercore, XMPP, among others) since before Mastodon was a thing. The entire purpose of their company is to build the protocol, not their instance of it. Running the first instance is just a way to bootstrap the protocol.

          After reading atproto.com do you still think accounts that currently exist on bsky.app won’t soon be able to migrate to another (including a self-hosted) PDS?

          • @rysiek@szmer.infoOP
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            710 months ago

            After reading atproto.com I still think it won’t matter, because secondary centralization will happen in the “reach” layer. That’s where the power in the system will be. As explored pretty in-depth in the blogpost that started this whole thread.

          • @tardigrada@beehaw.org
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            310 months ago

            After reading this site (btw, they appear to be using Cloudflare for their decentralized service) it doesn’t change anything. They indeed “may soon be able to migrate”, may “federate soon”, and all that, but it simply isn’t. It is a centralized service, and they promise once again that this time everything will really be better.

      • Arthur BesseA
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        10 months ago

        ActivityPub has a over 20k different independent instances, mostly federating with one another. BlueSky has one, and if you try to set up an independent one, it won’t federate.

        I’m guessing you still haven’t read this post I linked to? Here is the first paragraph:

        Moderation is a necessary feature of social spaces. It’s how bad behavior gets constrained, norms get set, and disputes get resolved. We’ve kept the Bluesky app invite-only and are finishing moderation before the last pieces of open federation because we wanted to prioritize user safety from the start.

        It’s a little surprising that the person you’re linking to managed to install and operate their own Personal Data Server without reading enough of the BlueSky website to see that federation isn’t turned on yet!

        You are confusing content warnings (not exposing others to potentially triggering content you post) with moderation (making it hard to harass users). These are two very different things.

        Why should they be different? If a user neglects to label their own post, shouldn’t other people be able to label it? (And shouldn’t the reader be able to decide who’s labels to give what importance to?)

        • @rysiek@szmer.infoOP
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          10 months ago

          Moderation is a necessary feature of social spaces. It’s how bad behavior gets constrained, norms get set, and disputes get resolved. We’ve kept the Bluesky app invite-only and are finishing moderation before the last pieces of open federation because we wanted to prioritize user safety from the start.

          I do hope I will eat my words as far as moderation on BlueSky is concerned. I do doubt I will, though.

          It’s a little surprising that the person you’re linking to managed to install and operate their own Personal Data Server without reading enough of the BlueSky website to see that federation isn’t turned on yet!

          Until federation is turned on they don’t get to call BlueSky a decentralized/federated social network. And until an actually decentralized DID is used, they don’t get to call it a decentralized protocol. And until they actually implement some features related to moderation and fighting harassment, they don’t get to claim they care about moderation — they cared enough about “free speech” to design a whole protocol around it, so I believe I am quite correct to say that moderation is an afterthought in BlueSky.

          All of this is basically “trust us, this time we will not screw people over” coming from a Twitter-funded startup started by Jack Dorsey. I don’t believe they deserve the benefit of the doubt.

          Why should they be different? If a user neglects to label their own post, shouldn’t other people be able to label it? (And shouldn’t the reader be able to decide who’s labels to give what importance to?)

          It’s not about labeling, it’s about protecting people using a given network from malicious/harassing behaviour. That is always contextual. Putting a label on a post doesn’t mean much, it loses a lot of the context. Saying “you’re not welcome in this community” after reviewing of a broader context (multiple posts etc) is a much more effective way to do this.

          You’re also completely missing the point that it’s not just about “whose content I see” but also about “who sees my posts”. As I wrote in the blogpost:

          What actual difference would being able to choose between different recommendation/discoverability algorithms make for at-risk folks who are constantly harassed on Twitter? There is no way to opt-out from “reach” algorithms indexing one’s posts, as far as I can see in the ATproto and BS documentation. So fash/harassers would be able to choose an algorithm that basically recommends targets to them.

          On the other hand, harassment victims could choose an algo that does not recommend harassers to them — but the problem for them is not that they are recommended to follow harassers’ accounts. It’s that harassers get to jump into their replies and pile-on using quote-posts and so on. Aided and abetted by recommendation algorithms that one cannot opt out of being indexed by in order to protect oneself.

          Anyway, we won’t agree. I rarely find common ground with free-speech-maximalists. I see fedi admins and moderators as people helping protect and nurture their communities, you see them as “hostage-holders”. We might as well stop here.

    • NiceMicro
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      410 months ago

      @cypherpunks Interesting point of view. I of course won’t argue that the Bluesky has some innovative ideas that are better than what ActivityPub does. But, one is a tried and tested protocol, so we know its weaknesses, while the other is barely a prototype, so we only know its promises.

      Of course in a comparison to real-world examples, idealized thought experiments always win.

      Time will tell, and if Bluesky’s protocol that much better, we will start using it eventually.

  • @tardigrada@beehaw.org
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    210 months ago

    It’s all written in the linked article and this thread already imo, but as I just stumbled about this:

    If you post any content to the Bluesky Web Services, you hereby grant Bluesky and its licensees a worldwide, perpetual […] licence to use, reproduce, publicly display, publicly perform, modify, sublicense …

    That’s from BS’s Terms of Service.