Recently read a tweet pondering that maybe most software we've built could just be a “temporary apparition,” instead of needing to be long-lived societal infrastructure. I find that idea incredibly freeing, and the clearest lens to see the tech world through right now, as someone building it.
What if we took social media a little less seriously — even the “better” solutions like the #fediverse? What if we didn't worry about “changing the world” with some new startup idea, and instead improved life for a few people? What if we just made cool shit online that could help pay our bills and then we do something new when that gets old? What if we forgot the 1990s-2020s delusion that the information superhighway was going to elevate humanity to some brand new plane above our own humanity?
I think we'd arrive at viewing the internet mostly as a fun, silly little thing we use sometimes — and that, like TV, it is useful but only ever parasocial. That it can never replace a meal with friends and family, a real-life community, making love, a face-to-face conversation, or hearing the birds outside your window. Maybe we could continue building cool digital things without all the pressures of being the best, conquering the world, getting it absolutely perfect for everyone, everywhere in the world.
Inspired by the news of Starbucks getting into Web3 yesterday, I made a bot that generates news about other companies getting on the bandwagon, using an old list of Fortune 500 companies and buzzwords from Wikipedia.
You can follow the bot on Twitter and in the fediverse: @email@example.com
#web3 #bots #fediverse
Some brief thoughts around Twitter accepting Elon Musk’s bid to buy it and take it private.
Whether worries about what happens next are founded or not, it’s good to see Mastodon and the #fediverse getting some attention. We saw our little Mastodon-powered community grow a bit yesterday (as did many others), as this tweet got spread around:
Now, on those worries: while this could mean a billionaire owning Twitter, intelligent people have rightly pointed out that Twitter is already owned by the controlling presence of a corporate board. Maybe neither situation is the best thing for a “public square” (that’s more of a shopping mall).
You might say we’ve often just ignored this all along. Which, again, is why I’m glad that this is at least sparking a conversation around the question of Who really owns the platform?
It’s also got me thinking again about user ownership of Write.as. I think that’s the real, long-term answer to questions that come up when your social media platform goes up for sale. Mastodon / the fediverse provide a glimpse of great ideas outside the mainstream, like non-commercial, community hosting and self-governance. But outside of a particular implementation, on a Twitter-level scale, I think we need to prove a model for ownership and aligned financial incentives between platforms and the people on them.
Part of what always excited me about the #fediverse was the chance to see all kinds of interoperable social apps. It fit well with my own idea for “a suite of independent, but connected apps” that I started building with Write.as and Snap.as.
Today I came across this talk, A World Without Apps, and it got me thinking beyond my own collection of composable tools on the web, to all levels of the computing stack. Providing that kind of environment everywhere of course will be pretty involved, but I can already feel it changing my thinking toward the tools I’m making.
Even certain basic concepts of my software that I’ve reused across apps, like “collections” and “posts,” could be used as elemental pieces that users could then combine and piece together however they want. I’m thinking about how I could build a tool that uses these elemental pieces to make brand new tools, and build my suite of apps and experiment with new ideas even faster. Then other people could do the same, and instead of only ever getting a single “official” version of WriteFreely, for example, you could build your own WriteFreely entirely the way you like it. In this way, WriteFreely as a piece of software becomes less of a wind-up toy, and more of a real tool you can use exactly how you want.
I also came across the Malleable Systems Collective and the people related to it, and finally looked into Solid after hearing about it for so long. Plenty of things to think about…
Soon we’ll start including images in the ActivityStreams data that #WriteFreely sends out to the #fediverse, making it so they show up nicely in your favorite decentralized social media stream. This should make WF more useful particularly for photo bloggers.
Here’s what it looks like on the receiving end, in my Mastodon feed:
This should be deployed on Write.as soon, and will be in the next version of WriteFreely (your code review, testing, and feedback is welcome!).