Repost of something I put on Twitter, in response to a post about "Shuttering Google Reader Killed Blogging"

a repeat mistake: being excited about a decentralized system's success because a big player moves in, becoming reliant on it, not providing a better alternative, big player leaves, decentralized system dies from shock

see also xmpp and gtalk

hoping to do better...

"Providing a better alternative" also means more than just "make the UI nice and easy to use", though that's a critical step. What is required to become a participating node in the system? How hard is it to keep that software running?

And yes, before you point it out, I don't think ActivityPub is in a good place here. But I think we can do better (and if you look, you can tell how that's impacting my current research & development)

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Yeah. More than once I've wondered what we'd do if Google did to activitypub what they did to email/xmpp, ie launch a service that uses activitypub, but eventually extends it and starts closing out the decentralized players more and more. It's embrace, extend, extinguish all over again.

Getting and using an activitypub account has to be as easy as possible for average people, without relying on surveillance industry players if we don't want to go the same way eventually.

The timing would be just right with Google+ closed down. They've already made competitive products to Apple (Android, Chromebook etc). They've shown a desire to create their own Facebook, trying more than once already. Combine that with the rise of activitypub and the pattern just talked about and it wouldn't surprise me if they were basically waiting to see if it can grow large and stable enough to experiment with turning activitypub into Gpub, or whatever they decide to call it.

@Blort @cwebber I'd like to think the community has become wise enough to the strategy y now to pre-emptively block any Google servers so they never become integrated enough to do damage when they inevitably leave with all their users

@stardot @Blort pre-emptively blocking the big players isn't what's going to save the fediverse from their wandering in and then out, IMO. If all your friends and family show up on the fediverse finally, but they're using the Big G, I think it'll be really tough for network effect reasons, to not connect. Most of the network ultimately will, especially because whole new parts of the network will spring up that do.

So what's the alternative?

@stardot @Blort The alternative is to build our technology so that "where your content is hosted" matters less. The instance shouldn't be where the community is, or too critical to your character's identity.

Whether its Google or, if either leaves, the content you care about should be able to survive, and the user accounts too. You can see a bit of this here: says some of the rest (there's more, but hard to fit here)

@cwebber @stardot @Blort technically this is awesome, but socially I think the fediverse derives its character (and some of its benefits) from the sense of community your home provides. I know that it's mostly UX but still, the fact that your admin runs the service creates the feeling of being in someone's home, you have to behave as they expect you to. Facebook groups will never be the same.


@qwazix @stardot @Blort I agree that there's some degree of that, and some degree of that can remain! Let's reframe it in a different setting.

Imagine if you had something like a distributed virtual world. Your main character can travel anywhere they've been given access to... but somewhere is their "home", and that "home" is on some server run by other people... but that's also physically manifest. People show up to your home neighborhood, and there are friends nearby. (cotd ...)

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@qwazix @stardot @Blort Even still, having a home somewhere shouldn't mean you can't travel anywhere. And how much should your home define you? I've moved around a lot, and my home in each place has had a meaningful impact on my life. But I think it would be also a problem if people immediately defined me by my place of residence. And it would be worse if I couldn't choose to move and still be the same person.

But that doesn't mean I don't have a home with a community.

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