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?

@cwebber @Blort if they show up on the fediverse but it's on a surveillance network, I'd rather we kept the walls up so the danger is clearly sign posted. It's no different than what we have today so it's no harm to the fediverse as we know it.


@stardot There is precisely ZERO assurance that there aren't multiple parties archiving Fediverse activity. Proving there are none is all but inpossible.

Yes, there's been loud outcry in a few cases intent has been explicitly voicd. But anyone who thinks that this is a surveillance-free zone ... has a lot of growing up to do.

Public is public, and non-public is likely little better.

@cwebber @Blort

@dredmorbius @cwebber @Blort unless it's e2e encrypted on foss I don't assume complete privacy. I mentioned on another post vacuuming public content isn't my concern, the debate is whether embrace/extend/extinguish can be effectively contained by blocking bad actors joining the fediverse. If G/FB etc successfully fooled fediverse users into joining platforms they control they'll be subject to surveillance that goes far beyond archiving all your posts.

@stardot Re; privacy, glad we agree, many people unfortunately don't get, or don't want to get, this.

On EEE my fears parallel @cwebber's I'm not as saanguine as them about the solution, though. Msss-relational systems such as communications platforms and networks tend strongly to centralise.

My theory is that it is irreducible cost functions (such that larger == more expensive) or mutually incompatible communities which are required to avoid exessively high levels of scaling and concentration, not mere (theoretical) mobility.


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