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 @Blort Who says Google isn't already surveiling public posts on the fediverse?

I'm more interested in making our systems less surveilable where possible.

@cwebber @Blort I'm not so concerned about my public content being vacuumed. It's when they draw in users on their servers with a compelling UI and unique benefits to joining their servers. Once they have a large enough share of the network they blow the bridges, make breaking changes to the protocol or make a hostile take over of development using their political clout to define the direction of the network adding whatever anti-features serve them best.

@stardot @Blort Sure, I absolutely agree that's a concern. EEE. Happens all the time and it sucks.

I don't know of good solutions completely, other than making it so that it's hard for them to lock in their users. Making the system resistant to lock-in can help... allowing for easy immigration between instances is more likely to help than putting up borders.

@cwebber @Blort sometimes a bit of protectionism is a good thing. The fediverse is fine as it is, we don't need them to join the party. When they joined XMPP, RSS, SMTP, they were terrible guests. We need to learn from those hard lessons and simply not invite them. Those evil corps will never make it easy for users to leave, we need an attractive proposition that makes it worth the effort to spend time here too.


@stardot @cwebber @Blort we also need laws that forces online identity hosts to provide users a structured archive of their data that is easy to access and migrate at any time, with a generous buffer period before closing the service. In my opinion.

@stragu @cwebber @Blort in an ideal world but inevitably such a law would hurt small server admins more than any major corporation and limit the growth of the distributed web by putting legal obligations onto potential server admins looking to provide a public service already at their own expense. We should accept responsibility for backing up our own data, but perhaps there's room for delegating that to a 3rd party who provide those assurances

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