still thinking about open source contributions that aren’t code and really focusing on design.

in my time at the LF — which does serve a need, but only because: capitalism — i often felt like folks were almost TOO “deep in” to see little things that i felt were obvious.

everyone shouting “well if we don’t establish a shared governance committee to ensure future interoperability of the underlying frameworks.…!” and i’m like “ok wild idea here but what if the apps weren’t hard to use and ugly”

it often feels like open source people are living on another planet. the linux foundation has a 50% figured-out reality: they have realized it is helpful to have a logo, and perhaps 2 accent colors. is an example that made me really happy. if you’re a graphic design student, teacher or hobbyist, why not make every one of your projects address an open source project that has no visual identity?

i totally get that many many open source software projects are spun out from internal corporate projects, where there was a need for a name and little else.

then, when they are transitioned to become OSS, they get some visual treatment.

might be interesting to see if homegrown OSS projects who experiment with “friendliness-first”, “UX-first” compete better with corporate OSS, who do that work last

why did mastodon take off so much more than (for example) friendica did? was it timing? did specific types of evangelists do specific things?

could one factor have been its comparatively strong visual identity and messaging?

@alana I think it was a combination of factors, including timing.

Some ads were placed on Twitter around about March 2017 and they appeared to get the attention of mainstream tech journos. The mainstream journos trying it out and writing"Mastodon is dead" or "this will never work" type articles then kicked off a lot of interest in the project.

If Mastodon had been released a year earlier the journos might not have been so interested, but by 2017 the badness of sites like Twitter was beginning to be more obvious to more users. Another factor which I think was important was that Mastodon had been branded as being "like Twitter but without the Nazis". Whether that was really the case though is debatable, but it was a slogan with resonance.

The reason why the Friendica and Hubzilla systems didn't gain nearly so many users despite having more features and better privacy controls is that they're much more complex. Grokking Mastodon was already a stretch for the mainstream journos even though it looked and behaved quite similarly to Tweetdeck. Something like Hubzilla by comparison is a mind-blowing paradigm shift entirely outside of their usual Sillicon Valley or Web 2.0 mode of thinking.

@bob all that tracks for me. good take.

one thing i often wonder about this dynamic (when a relative latecomer gains the largest OSS community/“ecosystem”) is: why not improve friendica or hubzilla? is it not a somewhat capitalist-thinking move to build one’s own thing instead of improving the existing thing? or, do the creators truly have a strongly differing vision, enough to justify “splitting the market” of prospective fediversians?

@bob i suppose my more pointed take would be:

do developers of activitypub-based community platforms want activitypub to succeed? do they want the bulk of social media users to abandon surveillance-capitalist sites? or do they want to build a successful product, above those other concerns

@alana They might not be highly invested in ActivityPub. If a different protocol arrived which had advantages and was simple to implement and an open standard made by an organization like W3C then I expect it would be used in preference.

Do the developers of Mastodon and Pleroma and Pixelfed want to succeed? Yes I expect so, although success does not necessarily mean becoming billionaires or entirely replacing Twitter. Perhaps Twitter just becomes like MySpace is now: still around but mostly ignored.

@bob @alana I think even those of us who want activitypub to succeed want it to succeed because it's a means to an end, not an end itself :)


Yeah what @cwebber said.

The developers of projects that implement ActivityPub are doing so to enhance the appeal of their project and make the project succeed, not to make the protocol more popular. The protocol is just the means. The end goal is to foster deeper interactions between platforms and hosts--to make the World Wide Web actually like the web it was intended to be.

If we all just worked on one AP project there would be no diversity and the end goal wouldn't be met.

@bob @alana

@msh @cwebber @bob i get the diff between protocols and clients etc; my poorly-worded point was more that without an over-arching shared goal or centralization around a uniquely important shared component, development can become more competitive than cooperative, reducing efficiency; reducing the likelihood of addressing a large group of users

@alana @cwebber @bob

"...centralization around a uniquely important shared component..."

Centralization to forward the goals of federation.

Ya gotta be cruel to be kind, in the right measure 😂

I think I get what you're saying though. Sabotaging interoperability in pursuit of market share the way IE did then and the way Chrome does now has caused great damage to the web.

I hope this doesn't become a problem with ActivityPub (I hope Gargron keeps that in mind especially)

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