Posted on June 18, 2022 under Fediverse

Fediverse

The isn’t Twitter or a better Twitter. It is, in its core, the spiritual successor to Pingback and Trackback, in friendly competition to WebMentions and the IndieWeb in general, and a way to keep your content yours.

A Reflection and Rationale (skip me if you want the deets)

The issue all of the above try to address (well, Pingback and Trackback anticipated this happening and wanted to preempt it) is exactly that: give users a way to write on their hosts (“Instances”) and comment or like others’ without having to create an account on whatever platform or site content appeared.

This can be shoehorned into a Twitter clone. But that’s suboptimal. Whoever thought, that 280 or 500 characters are a good thing and not an invitation to dogmatics, sloganeering, and strife, needs to be beat until they manage to make a coherent argument why the beatings must stop in 500 or fewer characters.

The social Network is at a critical junction in 2022. If the past two years have taught us anything, then that overreach and narrow-mindedness of the silos (places that host and keep our content to analyze it and monetize us) can cause more than just strife and hostile conversation. They can kill. Aberrant algorithms and badly trained “fact-checkers” removed content because it triggered one of the filters, while bad faith actors like Joe Rogan were free to promote their anti-science and anti-measure agenda thanks to financial interests of the hosts involved.

And, while grave, this isn’t more than the tip of an iceberg under which a greedy, unethical, and unattractive system does everything to weaponize psychological tricks, the mentioned short status constraints, and privacy-invading user surveillance to create the perfect manipulative advertising platform.

The only way out of this is to reverse “Step One” of the silo scheme: get everyone into the silo and make everyone outside of it irrelevant.

Facebook and Twitter achieved this, by offering a free and, initially, very performant way to reach friends, family, and anyone interested in the kind of content each of us creates. It made it easy to share family pictures with grandma, debate politics, or organize protests.

In Step Two, external content became de-emphasized. Shared blog posts were lowered algorithmically in or hidden from feeds.

Now the silo had what it wanted: a perfect mouse trap. Everyone was inside, outside content wasn’t relevant anymore, and if one did not want to miss out, one had to be inside, create inside, act inside. A perfect data mill for advertisers and opinion makers.

The Solution

Reverse “Step One” and go back to the systems we had in place before Facebook and Twitter (and Instagram and TikTok and Flickr post-buyout) began to siloize and monetize our lives.

The only remaining issue: how do we keep the tight connectedness, the bubbles, the friend and family networks, in place? Easy: enter the IndieWeb and ActivityPub.

Both are solutions to an actual problem: the connectedness (or, better, lack thereof) of individual sources of content. And both are, IndieWeb more than ActivityPub, rather easily implementable. This doesn’t mean, that everyone has to start their own blog, an account on one of the ActivityPub powered “Instances” (Mastodon, Misskey, Pleroma, or Friendica, etc.) is generally enough for light interconnectedness.

My Solution

I chose to move back into a weblog. Since there are plenty of good and well maintained solutions for interconnectedness available for WordPress, this has become, despite my reservations, the system I settled on.

My presence on my.medic.cafe and medic.cafe is unaffected by this. Just as mikka.md, those servers are under my control and fulfill my basic requirement for being active with my data: no logging, no tracking, no blocking.

Note: “No blocking” does not mean that I am not filtering content, people, hashtags, and instances. It simply means that there is no Big Daddy doing this for me but a system that considers me an adult of average intelligence and mental strength to do this myself.

First, I installed ActivityPub, Webmentions, and Semantic-Linkbacks on the blog. Installing the first turned every user on the blog into an active Actor in the , meaning each user on this weblog is reachable as @<username>@mikka.md (try it out, search for @mikka@mikka.md on your Mastodon, Misskey, etc. Instance and you’ll see that my German user account here (or search for @mikka.en@mikka.md for the English language one) is a fully capable citizen of the Fediverse.

More, even, if you were to like this, you could favorite the post on your Instance and it would show up here. If you disagreed, you could comment and, again, it would show up under this post.

Second, I moved the blog to Autonomie, a theme with implicit support for ActivityPub enabled installations. If you were to check out my author page, you’d see something like this:

[ A screenshot of the author page ]

Reminds you of Twitter, Facebook, Mastodon, or Misskey? Yeah, it should.

I should also mention, that all the above goodness, all the plugins and the theme, were developed by the same person: Matthias Pfefferle (@pfefferle). All the credit goes to him.

My Social Strategy

I’ll be using my.medic.cafe to write microblog and text-only style posts. Some might get reshared to this site, some might not. Following me there (@mikka@my.medic.cafe) is the best way to see the irreverent and short side of me. The blog hosts three personas, all me, this one, a German language one, and Sprocket‘s account (a plushie traveling with me). Content is federated.

I’ll be moving my photos to this site as well, turning them into galleries and federating individual pictures (likely as @mikka@mikka.md) whenever I feel one is worth it.

In the meantime, I am using brid.gy to crosspost between Flickr and here, and will be preferrably interacting with blogs that do the same (have ActivityPub, Webmentions, and/or Trackback/Pingback enabled).

This won’t take us back to 2006 but a newer, better, 2022, in which the silos lose access to the one thing those soul sucking vampires truly crave — us. Join me?

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