So the Verge article for which I wrote some thoughts about Jack Dorsey announcing #Bluesky is out and it used only a few sentences from what I came up with, so I wanna share the full thing...
I was asked, if Twitter did indeed adopt #ActivityPub instead of coming up with something new, would it be better or worse for the decentralized social web?
One commonly mentioned danger of a large corporate player like Twitter coming into the decentralized social world is the Embrace-Extend-Extinguish tactic, wherein one entity adopts a common protocol, and once it acquires a large marketshare then makes itself incompatible through custom changes, locking its users in and leaving the common protocol for dead.
Something like this happened to another federated/decentralized technology, XMPP. XMPP was used by Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Google Talk to power instant messaging, then one by one those platforms disabled federation features and now barely anybody still uses XMPP. People fear something similar is going to happen to e-mail through GMail.
However, I think that in our case such a scenario is highly unlikely. First of all, the order of events is reversed--ActivityPub and Mastodon have been built after Twitter, as improvements over Twitter, and the current, not insignificant userbase has specifically left Twitter over bad features, management, or misaligned incentives, so there is essentially no risk of losing that userbase back to Twitter even if it joined the space.
A lot of what makes Mastodon's model attractive depends on smaller nodes being better, so it would not have an edge in attracting new users either. So, I think we only have something to gain.
I think Twitter adopting ActivityPub would be a good thing and a victory for the web. Twitter's current lock-in on its users is its strength, and weaking that lock-in by embracing decentralization would remove essentially all network effects-based obstacles to people moving away from it and spreading out in the fediverse.
It would make non-Twitter social media providers like Mastodon, Pleroma, Pixelfed and others more competetive, since they offer a better experience not motivated by corporate interests and can explore more sustainable and ethical business models. Twitter adopting ActivityPub would also be incredible validation of everything we've been working towards and lead to more platforms joining the decentralized social web and more exciting and innovative projects being created in this space.
"Twitter adopting ActivityPub would also be incredible validation of everything we've been working towards "...
Used exactly this argument to someone who was mocking the move of some of us to Mastodon.
@Gargron You may have listed a lot of reasons for Twitter not to use ActivityPub
@aurochs @Gargron They already are aware of ALL of these concerns. I bet you they have detailed research of all the implications and of what ramifications could implementing federation lead to. I think they are doing this due to Twitter's constant loss of its active userbase, the democratic, civil and legal concerns over the platform's political influence, the extremely polarizing and costly implications of moderation, and the potential for new competitors.
@Gargron really glad to hear your thoughts on this, and relieved to know that you're optimistic. I think we're all a little scared that twitter could ruin the good things that we've built, but as long as this part of the fediverse remains committed to the principles of decentralization, we'll be okay.
@Gargron okay "the principles of decentralization" sounds kinda silly and vague - I just mean small instances are good
@Gargron I really doubt it. At the end of the day, users want simplicity. ActivityPub is too complicated for most people to understand. Hell, it took me some googling to figure out how to use mastodon! The average user doesn't put in so much effort.
Facebook, twitter, tiktok succeeded because they are very simple to use. It will be hard for a decentralised network to provide ease of use.
i tried twitter before mastodon and it wasn't easy to use in a social sense. i didn't know how to find someone to talk to without having friends there already. on mastodon, it was a non-issue to me, maybe at expense of having to learn a few tech things.
i work in IT, so you could argue that for an average user it's harder. but..
@pranit @Gargron ...i still don't think it's *that* hard. there're a lot of users who're willing to learn a few things and become a part of a friendly community. there are many users who don't even care about the privacy aspect or something else technical, for them it's just something better than twitter.
@pranit I disagree, in the way that Facebook and Twitter weren't "easy to use" on the first place ; didn't it take you some time to figure out how to use these platforms properly ? It did for me. I even never sticked to Twitter, because I couldn't figure it out.
Mastodon is like any social media : you need some time to understand how it works, and what it could offer you.
You are right.
We are winning, and it would be a huge win for the web for them to move to this standard.
I welcome the move.
Yes, except if I were jack, what I would do is figure out what would give me control over every use of activitypub, figure out what changes were needed to the standard,
make those changes, instead, in the interest of some innocent reason I can sell to the rubes,
then after everyone is using 'my' standard, make the real changes, and make everyone's continued use dependent on what I can control.
Isn't that SOP for these companies?
I meean really, you're suggesting twitter would fail at this process, given all the money and motivated, interested, parties they have to help them.
@Gargron Quite possibly, which is why I am sure Twitter will roll their own. Or just quietly drop the idea after a while.
@Gargron Exactly - many people say "I would join the Fediverse but all the people are on Twitter", if that was no longer an obstacle I can imagine many people would want to leave twitter.com for better instances.
@Gargron You're underestimating the grasp, or fist to the face, or great hand around your throat. If you think this isn't corporate leverage we need to step back and take a breath. Now is the time for the 1-2 punch. Jack is willing to outgun you with money. Something is afoot. Let's not sit on our hands and wait for the storm.
@Gargron i can only speak for myself, but as someone who only uses twitter sparingly as a news curator, i like this site because it discourages toxicity. twitter will never be twitter without conflict. jack doesn't like to mention this because it wouldn't make sense for him to mention it. but ultimately, at this point, that's their business model. decentralization is wonderful, but it's not what differentiates this place (in my experience, at least)
@Gargron you are being mature and that's good.
Wether you like it or not, Eugene is the biggest figure in the fediverse and adopting such posture only promotes the fediverse. This is a revolution on social media, i hope it remains in the future as ethic as it is today.
Worse, absolutely worse.
Jack Dorsey enables fascists and is straight-up toxic, and should be chased out of decentralized social media by a large mob with tire irons and baseball bats.
No, seriously; we should be displaying open public hostility to Dorsey's project.
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