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.

@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 Who says Google isn't already surveiling public posts on the fediverse?

I'm more interested in making our systems less surveilable where possible.

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@stardot @Blort Sure, I absolutely agree that's a concern. EEE. Happens all the time and it sucks.

I don't know of good solutions completely, other than making it so that it's hard for them to lock in their users. Making the system resistant to lock-in can help... allowing for easy immigration between instances is more likely to help than putting up borders.

@stardot @Blort If you read my top post on this thread, you'll see there's already a large amount of agreement there.

But I don't think that the solution becomes walling them off. Not because we really want them here, but because I think it won't actually protect us in any way.

@stardot @cwebber @Blort we also need laws that forces online identity hosts to provide users a structured archive of their data that is easy to access and migrate at any time, with a generous buffer period before closing the service. In my opinion.

@cwebber The Google crawler (and all the other "search engines") have been indexing the web timelines all the time, by design. Content is being fetched regardless of robots.txt and headers. All it takes to turn the result of that into "surveillance" is some targeted metadata parsing. They don't need to participate in the Fediverse to that end.

On the other hand, public web content is currently the only workaround for incomplete federation, so it's hard to get along without.

@stardot @Blort

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