Pragmatic 95: FOSS Social

16 August, 2019


Free Open Source Software is at the heart of the Federated Social revolution that’s gathering momentum. David Chartier joins John to walk through where we are in that journey so far, the current players, the current challenges and value of having multiple social-network options.

Transcript available
Welcome to Pragmatic. Pragmatic is a discussion show contemplating the practical application of technology. By exploring the real-world trade-offs, we look at how great ideas are transformed into products and services that can change our lives. Nothing is as simple as it seems. Pragmatic is supported by Patrons. If you'd like to support the show, head over to our Patreon page at or one word. I'm your host, John Chidjie, and today I'm joined by Dave Chartier. How you doing, Dave? Doing real good, John. Thanks for having me. Yeah, no worries. Anytime. The reason that I wanted to get you on specifically was both you and I, I think it's reasonable to say, have been pretty relatively heavily involved with the Fetaverse for the last little while. So, just sort of, just if you want to start, Tell me about how you got involved with the Fediverse and and where you are in that. So I got involved probably a little bit under a year ago at this point and It's I've been one of the people who's been growing frustrated with the you know, the major social networks like Twitter and Facebook, etc I'm really upset with their leadership the people listening to this have probably been following the news But they've been running a lot of abusive practices. There've been a lot of scandals You don't have to look very hard to learn about them. And I don't, I'm upset with the way that they're running things. And I don't see much evidence that they're going to change or that they're listening to the core complaints that a lot of people have. And so there was one of the many Twitter scandals that happened sometime last year, or one of the changes that they made to a feature, something other user hostile that they did. And it started getting around on Twitter. Like, hey, if you're looking for an alternative, there's this thing called Mastodon, and it works like Twitter, but it's open source, and people can run their own servers, and it's an interconnected group of communities, et cetera, and we'll probably talk a little more about that in a bit, but I liked that idea. I loved the idea of an alternative. It was finally like an out, or at least a reprieve, from dealing with this constant barrage of awfulness, and so I signed up and started learning what I could, and I found that it really clicked with some of my values and where I hope community management can eventually go. - Okay, excellent. So you joined an existing instance, I think you didn't stand up your own. - Yes, I joined an existing instance. Like a lot of people I joined in the beginning because that was, and still is a very public one. But once I started learning more about Mastodon and such and understanding it, it's this group of interconnected communities, I decided to find a different one. There's nothing wrong with It's still great. Join it if you can, and you don't know where to get started with Mastodon. But I joined one called And I think that's where I've been for most of the time since. - Cool. All right, so on my side, I have actually, I did a recording episode, episode 80 actually of Pragmatic to talk specifically about Mastodon and all of that previously. but the thing that I really wanted to focus on as part of, so if listeners wanna know about my history of Mastodon, then go back, have a listen to that one. And to be honest, I've since switched to Pleroma, which I'll talk about a little bit as well later. But I wanted to focus on one particular thing, and that's the free open source software or FOSS nature of social networking. And because it's a sort of grown beyond just Mastodon at this point. And I think that the way that that's being approached, and not just that, we'll also, we'll talk a little bit about MISCI and we'll talk about PixelFed as well, and just look at how this is evolving, 'cause this space is evolving and it's fascinating to be a part of it and to watch it happening. So to sort of start a little bit about FOSS, I did a little bit more digging into this because it's not something that I spend a lot of time dwelling on because my J-O-B job, as they say, is not developing open source software. (laughs) But it sort of stands, it seems to have stemmed from Richard Stallman. And he said that there were four essential freedoms with free open source software. So have you heard of these four things? - I've heard of this phrase, I'm not familiar with what they are. - Okay, so let's just step through it. And this is the majority of the research I've done. (laughs) It's pretty simple though. So in order to have these, In order for something in his, okay, according to Richard Dorman, in order for something to be FOSS, it must, you must allow the user to run the program as you wish for any purpose, is the first one. To study how the program works and change it so it does your computing as you wish, it's an interesting one. In order, you also need to be able to redistribute copies and you need to distribute copies of your modified versions to others, essentially contributing to the community. So, the funny thing about number two and number four, like studying how the program works and distributing copies of your modified versions, that essentially puts that in the realm of software developers, and you need complete access to the source code in order to do the second and the fourth. Right. And yeah, and it's kind of I find that to be sort of, it's a bit it's a bit interesting. If you're just an average everyday user and I want to get on a social network, two and four don't matter to me and don't involve me. So, it's really only your ability to distribute copies, but you wouldn't because there's already copies on the server. And to run the program as you wish for any purpose, I guess is really the only one that applies to the average person. So, the other three really are more about developers that are doing development on the software. Okay. So, it's an interesting take. And one of the things that I I find interesting about that, we'll get to a little bit later, is the attitudes of some of these developers that those four freedoms that he outlines drive some interesting behaviors. And I'm not entirely sure I like all of them, but in any case. So we'll keep that in the back of our minds and talk a bit more about Mastodon, I guess. In the end, I don't wanna revisit all the history of how Mastodon got to where it is. Again, I gave a good overview of that previously, but in terms of the developer, The developer is a guy called Eugene Rocco. I think it's pronounced. I hope it's pronounced correctly, yeah. - I think so. - In any case, yeah. And he's a German, I think he's 24, 25 years old. And he, yeah, and he's a prolific developer. He really has pushed Mastodon very, very quickly forward with lots and lots and lots of features. And it's interesting because I found that there's a lot of people, I mean, I'm very impressed with how many features he's added, but he also cops a bit of criticism for not taking on other people's merge requests and feature requests. And there's some criticism of some of the underlying like distributed deletions and so on that I see being thrown at him from time to time. But you can't argue with the fact that it's been highly successful. 'Cause currently, I just checked before we recorded this, currently 2,631 instances of Mastodon globally. - Wow. - And that, yeah, that's huge. And obviously the active user count is always open for debate, but it's more than a million. So it is by far and away the most popular, federated social network that there is. - Last I saw, I thought it had cleared 2 million and was getting closer to three. - It may well have actually, it may well have. the drama I have with that is that there's registered users and then there's active users. And I know it's a little bit of a funny line, but because I've also heard similar accusations thrown at Twitter. So like they'll inflate there, oh, we've got how many 300 million users or whatever it is. And it turns out that, you know, like 200 million have never tweeted or something like that. Yeah. But yeah, it is growing significantly. And certainly, the original when originally when it launches, a lot of people prognosticating and saying it's not going to last, it's not going to make it, it's going to fail. And it was more than a million, not that long ago. And if it's crossed 2 million, then I'm not surprised. And I don't think it is going to die anytime soon. So the thing that's interesting for me about Mastodon because I hosted my own instance is how heavy it is in terms of what you have to install. You have to install Rails, Postgres, Redis, Sidekick, Node.js, and Elasticsearch in order to have a functional instance. Yeah, it's really, really heavy. you need like two to four gig of RAM on a virtual private server, you'll need a reasonable amount of storage and a reasonable number of CPUs. It's pretty heavy. That said, it is by far and away the most fully featured, I think, of all of them. So the next one I want to talk about, though, is MISCI. Have you come across MISCI at all? That I haven't. I wanted to ask you about that. I see it in the notes here. Yeah. MISCI is driven by one person, and MISCI is driven by a gentleman from Japan, and he's 21 years old and his name, and I hope I don't mangle this, is Sulio. And it's actually, it also supports the same standard that Mastodon does, which is ActivityPub. And it's built, again, using Node.js and Postgres and Redis and Elasticsearch, but that's it. It doesn't have anything else. So it is lighter than Mastodon, but it is still not insignificant. And it's built, and obviously anything with Node, you've got to throw in Node package manager or Yarn or something like that. So it's not as lightweight as some of those things you do use package managers, but it's not as big anywhere near as big. It's there's only 62 instances and the largest instances are in Japan. And if you log into MISCI and create an account, it's almost entirely in Japanese, but there are more instances outside Japan that are opening up. And as you may expect, if you're familiar with Japanese culture and the way they like to use technology, it is very heavy on the emojis. There's lots of anime, there's lots of, it's got a very, yeah, it's got a very Japanese feel to it. And I've got to be honest, I kind of like it. It's actually got some interesting features in it, like the full import and export. They call them notes. They don't call them toots, which is interesting. - Yeah. - And yeah, it's actually kind of nice. So if you haven't looked at it, just have a look. But I mean, I just wanted to mention it because it's one of the top three in terms of the most popular of, I suppose what I'd call, oh no, short message social media. - Like micro blogging, short message kind of thing, yeah. - Yeah, yeah. So not quite micro blog, 'cause the thing is with micro blog, like something like Manton Reese's, for example, is designed more for longer form posts as well as short ones, sort of a bit of both. Whereas these ones are more meant for shorter, I think. - Yeah, our choices are certainly getting interesting. And just before we move on a little too much farther, I remember when you mentioned how Miski is very heavy on like emoji and sharing content that way. I remember very early on, I hope your audience knows that I've worked a lot in the Apple space. I probably should have talked about that earlier, but a lot of my career started when the iPhone came out. And I remember back in the day before it had gone to a lot of other countries and continents there was a lot of talk about how it, you cannot get a phone into Japan without emoji. And it didn't have emoji back then. This is around, I don't know, at least iPhone OS 2 or 3 before it became iOS. And there were rumors that this weird emoji, you know, little tiny icon keyboard was coming. And a lot of people here where I live in the West didn't really get it at the time. And, you know, I'd started doing a little bit of research into it. And that was basically in the mobile industry. That was basically the rule of thumb. Like if you want to get a phone into Japan and it doesn't have, it doesn't support emoji, forget about it. Just don't even bother. - Oh, for sure. Absolutely. And no, I actually, I do remember that as well. And I'll be honest, a long time ago when I had Casey Liss on an episode of a podcast don't make any more called tangential. And we talked about that. That was that with Joe Rosensteil as well. And I really struggled to get my head around emoji for the longest time. And it's sort of, yeah, it's, it's taken a while, but okay, I use five, maybe six. Emoji. Have you, have you gotten your head around the fact that there is, I forget the exact name of it, but there's some kind of like international emoji standards body. Mm. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I've heard of them. They needed to be. I mean, because one of the things that's interesting is everyone has their own emoji for different things. And, and sometimes I release ones that look like bagels and then people start debating if it actually looks like a bagel or not. I'm like, oh my goodness, really. So, um, but yes, standardized emojis. Yes. Excellent. My, one of my very tiny claims to fame, not to completely derail us, but one of my very tiny little personal achievements, I would say is I'm a bourbon person. I like my whiskey. And they introduced, like, I think there was always a beer mug, and then they introduced like an emoji of like two beers clinking together. And I'd started railing on social media and like making jokes about how there's no whiskey emoji and that we're being oppressed and they're being discriminatory in their types of drink emoji options. for sure. And this someone from the board, I'm so bad, I hope he doesn't listen to this show because I'm blanking on his name now, Jared or Jordan something. He basically works on the board and he DMs me a long time ago saying, Hey, look at the next new body of emoji that we're thinking about ratifying. And one of them, you know, you might particularly appreciate and I will cite you as a little bit of the inspiration. There are others, many others, but you are a part of the inspiration for me trying to get that into this next. release of Emoji. So I played a very tiny part in that Whiskey Emoji coming to life. Well thank you for the inspiration behind the Whiskey Emoji. That's awesome. And yeah, I mean I'm kind of with you on that. I'm not a beer drinker. So yeah, the Whiskey Emoji speaks more to me as well for that for sure. But so yes, Emoji. Awesome. And some of these are actually interesting. A point is that some of these will allow you to import custom emoji sets as well. So if that's your sort of thing, then you can do that. So you're not stuck with whatever ships out of the box with I'm pretty sure that Mastodon, MISCII and Pleroma all support custom emoji. I'm pretty sure they do, which is also very cool. So you're not stuck with whatever Facebook or Twitter or Instagram gives you. You can do a whole lot more with it, which is really great. So, all right. Okay. So that was MISCII. I think worth mentioning because it's the third largest, but the one that I left, the The third one on the list, but probably should have been the second really is Pleroma. Pleroma globally, again, just check before we started recording, 575 instances. So it's somewhere between the two, between Macedon and Miski. And unlike the other two, this is more developed as a collaborative team effort. And I've been following both... Well, there's two main developers that are quite vocal on social media. One of them is a guy called Lane, who's extremely privacy conscious and I don't actually know his real name. And then the other one is Kaini, K-A-I-I-N-I. I don't know if that's how to pronounce it or not, but in any case, and he in particular is extremely vocal and doesn't mind sharing what he's thinking about all sorts of things. So yeah, I kind of follow him on and off. He's an interesting individual, that's for sure. Now to run it on a server is very, very different. It's extremely lightweight and it's intended to be lightweight. You can run it on a Raspberry Pi, which is impressive. Cheers. Essentially it runs-- yeah, I know. And it runs on using Elixir and Postgres. And that's pretty much it. So in my case, I actually run my own server And that's running. It's the VPS. It's a KVM VPS. It's only got 10 gig of solid state drive space, 1 gig of RAM, It runs CentOS 7 and it cost me $15 US a year. So- - Oh my gosh, wow. - I know, pretty cheap. I know. So I'm thoroughly impressed by that, especially when you compare it with Mastodon, which was choking. Mastodon wouldn't run on a VPS of that size. It just wouldn't, it'd collapse, even for a single user instance, which is what mine is. So, and obviously if you want to run more than that, like if you want to have a hundred users or 200 users, you'd want to get a bigger server than that. - Okay, that was going to be one of my questions. Like, so that it sounds like when you were, you can run that as like a single user instance, basically just for yourself. - Yes, exactly. - Okay. - So one of the attractions for me, yeah. And one of the attractions for me has been, I want to have one handle, like an email address or whatever else that I keep ad, you know, forever. And, you know, that may, will be somewhat optimistic. In fact, I think it's probably very optimistic considering how many email addresses I've had the last 25 years I've had an email address. So, I kind of- because my current email address that I've got that is my primary email address, I've had it for about 12 years as my Apple one. That's a good run. Yeah, it's not bad. But prior to that, I had one at Hotmail and that was, you know, and I ditched that once Microsoft bought it and then changed it to Outlook. And I say ditched, I mean, I still got got it, but I forward the emails onto my new email address. But the thing that's interesting is that between Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, they're all different usernames and it's really annoying. So if you say, if you get in early on a new platform, this is what other people tell you, "Oh, you get in early on a new platform and you stake your username claim. So you can always be, oh, I'm @johnchidjee at every single platform you can imagine." And it's It's like, that gets so tiring after about the dozenth platform. And I wanted to have an instance where I owned the domain, basically I owned my address as it was. So, @[email protected], I've been on that address now for the last two and a half years. I mean, mind you, now I have to pay for that domain for the rest of my life if I wanna keep it. - Right. - It's not an expensive domain, but there's that. And running a single user instance, I gotta run that for the rest of my life. So, and then also the flip side of that is that, you know, I've been on Twitter @johncicci on Twitter since 2009, and that's 10 years now. So, I don't know, some of it is just me being a little bit, you know, control freak, I guess. - There's also a conversation to be had here about the permanence of this content, right? Because some people approach, especially these types of short posts, I wanna call it just micro blogging, just for the sake, since that word was around for a while, these tiny character limited posts. You know, I've seen this rise, especially after like Snapchat and these very short-lived content services. I see a bunch of Twitter people who are running some kind of a bot or an automated service that deletes everything after a week or a few days or what have you. The idea being, you know, we're here talking. I've heard it explained as we're sitting around talking around like a water cooler. Like this is a giant, you know, sort of public party. Just about anybody's invited, except for a few instances we don't need to name at the moment. And what we say here is in the here and now, and it doesn't need to be here enshrined for all of eternity. And so I've seen people not care about what domain that it's at, or if they move from Twitter to Mastodon or switch Mastodon instances, I don't need to bring all my posts along and import them. It doesn't matter. Just know where I went if you care about me and what I'm posting or whatever. So, that can kind of become its own conversation by itself. - For sure. - Of how much do you care about the permanence of this content? - Yeah, I guess that's a good point. I was vaguely aware that some people were doing that. I must admit, I haven't paid enough attention to that recently on Twitter, but I have seen a few people mentioning it and it's an interesting idea. I don't know, I guess, yeah, it's an interesting perspective. From what I'm sort of thinking about though is more about, well, here's an address you can get, you can attract my attention. Like if you need to get a hold of me, this is how you do it. And I guess the flip side of that is, well, I already have an email account. So why wouldn't I just give out my email account? Oh, I don't want to get spam, but I'm doing the same thing now for social media. So yeah, anyway, I'm debunking my own argument. I'm very good at that, I think. Anyway. So something that I think might help a little bit, especially with myself, but also I hope some of your listeners, so I'm not getting too remedial here, but I understand the basic concepts of like ActivityPub, that all these services are basically running on like a central core standard for exchanging posts and information. So just to lay the groundwork here, eventually once Pixel Fed gets to an MVP or the actual federated concept, you could follow someone's Pixel Fed photo sharing from your Mastodon account. Let's say you don't want to join Pixel Fed, you don't care about sharing photos, but you like seeing photos from someone else. The idea as I understand it is you could search for them on Mastodon. you could search for that PixelFed account on Mastodon and follow it, even though you don't have a PixelFed account, right? - Absolutely right. And that's a really good point. We should probably just pause and talk a little bit about that as well. So yeah, I mean, ActivityPub is a standard that it sort of followed on a little bit from OStatus, which was the prior standard that Mastodon supported. And ActivityPub really is, in some respects, it's a little bit of a loose standard in some technical dimensions, which really causes some frustration for some of the app developers and some of the server developers, server-side software developers, because it does leave a little bit of room for interpretation. But in the very basics, it'll cover off things like, if I want to subscribe to a particular user, how do I go about that? So like a local follow or a remote follow, and there's a handshaking procedure that has to go on between that. So someone who may have a private account may say, well, I'm only going to accept this remote follow if I approve it and so on and so forth. So it talks about the interaction between the different, say you've got actors and I think it's objects at the top of my head. And when you create a post, anyone that then is a remote follow or a local follow will get a message saying, yes, this is now, there's a new status for you to capture. And it'll periodically go between the servers and it'll say, well, my account on this server, it's every so often it'll check to unask the other servers that subscribe to these different people. hey, have there been any new activities published? Hence the name, ActivityPub, I think. But, and it'll collect that as a timeline and then your application or the web app, if that's what it is, when you log into your Mastodon account or your Pleroma account or MISCI account, it'll simply see, hey, what have I missed? And it'll just pull that into the app and away you go. It's really not that much different from Twitter. It's just that the difference is that Twitter hides that level of abstraction behind a single domain. So it's everything's at And the reality is that they've got dozens of servers, probably hundreds all around the world doing more or less the same kind of thing. It's just that this is abstracted away. And the point is that you now have an individual server that's owned by an individual or a group. And so you can create an account on that server and it all just works. And the great thing about ActivityPub is that in theory, you can have an ActivityPub client, which works exactly the way you described, which would be I can on my clients use ActivityPub as a protocol to extract all of the information from all of those users that are following and construct a timeline. And it should work between anything that supports ActivityPub and that could be PixelFed or it could be Pluroma or it could be MassDOM, doesn't matter. But the truth is, and this is one of the interesting things about where we're at with the Fediverse at the moment, is that so far as I'm aware, there are no client apps of any significance, that is to say of any adoption that actually do that. they all use an API and the API that they use is the Mastodon V1 API. So, you know what I mean? It's kind of a bit interesting because one of the things that's happened is that because Mastodon got biggest first, all the apps support the Mastodon V1 API. So for example, Toot uses, as does Mast, as does Amarok, they all use the V1 API and that's how they get the status updates and everything. the server does the activity pub in the background, but the clients don't. Interesting. That might get... So now I'm curious because that's the most popular one. So if you're trying to build an app, I'd imagine it makes business sense to try and go with the most popular activity pub community, the largest group of people who are getting together and talking to each other. But I wonder if this gets to a proper critical mass, if it it would make sense to rework that and turn those apps into an ActivityPub client under the hood. But most people, we touched on this a little bit earlier about what regular users would and wouldn't care about. Most people, once they get on board with this idea of like, "Oh, I can follow photos from pixel fed or micro posts from Macedon or pleroma or whatever other type of of these activity pub apps where you can publish as long as you want. I can follow whatever I want in this single app that kind of becomes sort of a social inbox as it were. It might make sense for those developers eventually to rework it under the hood and go that route. But right now like you know as unfortunate as it might be it might just not make business sense for them at the end of the day. And I know we're also talking about FOSS. So those two things might be in conflict. - Yeah, absolutely. And I do think that they are partly in conflict and that's not helping things. In any case, the whole idea of each of these different silos is 'cause this is one of the things that I, a friend of mine at work asked me this question 'cause I keep on going on about it, is why on earth would you, what's the value proposition for Pixel Fed versus Mastodon, you know, versus WriteAs, for example. And I'm throwing WriteAs in there because WriteAs is actually more like It's kind of like a blog, it's like a blogging platform. - Yeah. - Yeah, have you had much to look at? - Yeah, that's a great analogy. Write, but WriteAs is totally free form, right? Like you could write a 4,000 word essay, couldn't you? - Yeah, yeah, absolutely you could. And that's exactly what they want you to do. - Back to something you were bringing up though, your coworker who is asking, What's the point between these three different services? And I've got, I have two different thoughts in my head about that. One is at the core, to me, it's about constraints. And what I mean by that is we can use an analogy that probably many of our listeners are more familiar with, is we can create an analogy for each of these services. Instagram is a lot like Pixel Fed, right? They're specifically photo sharing platforms. You can write text too, but that's sort of the, if anything, that's the afterthought. You can't post text to Instagram without a photo, right? Mastodon is a lot like Twitter, right? Same thing, very short post, there's a character limit, it's a slightly longer limit, but at the end of the day, it doesn't matter. There's no text formatting, there's no bold italics, nothing. Short text messages, you can also post photos and other types of files. I would analogize, is that a word? Analogize? I figure... Let's go with it besides "analogize." I figure "write as" is a lot like WordPress. So each of these services have some kind of a constraint or some type of a core problem or goal that they're trying to help you with. And so I think it comes down to where you like to write and publish things. I've met people who don't understand how anyone uses Twitter. And this is even after they lifted the character limit up to 280. You know, they're just like, "I couldn't write anything in 280 characters. That just wouldn't work for me." You know, they need a longer format. So they use WordPress or whatever they work with. And so constraint is the idea that I come back to because my wife, being an English teacher, I remember she taught me something very early on. She used to be an English teacher, is not anymore. But people love constraints. They don't think they do. Like if you ask most people, they'll be like, "No, this is terrible. I want to do whatever I want." But we actually thrive under constraint. And there's a saying, "Constraint breeds creativity." Something like that. I might be goofing that up. Yes. Yep. Yep. No, no, no. I think that's it. That's like the core value of each of those services to me. Do you want to post photos? Do you want to write short, quippy things? Or do you want to have a blank, endless canvas to write whatever you want, as long as you want? - Look, I just, I think that's a really good, really good way of describing it. And it's like, it's like, what's the, what's the core functionality? What's the core feature of, of the service and for Pixel Fed and Instagram, you're right. It's posting photos. So I want to post photos. Where do I go? I go to Instagram, you know, and if I want to do a short, you know, I think in the biz, they call it posting, but you want to go on. - Yep. - I did, I don't know. I don't know, but nevermind that, you know, if I want to do a post like that, then I would just go to like Mastodon or Pleroma or Twitter, I guess, you know, that kind of thing. Yeah, if I'm going to, you know, write a longer form article about my opinion of what Apple did with their latest cheese grater hole, well, that's great. I'm gonna do that on Right As, let's say, or maybe on WordPress or my own blog, you know, whatever it might be. And it's like the best tool for the job kind of thing. And each one is optimized for that. So if I'm logging into Pixel Fed, it's optimized to look at photos. if I log into right as it's optimized for, you know, a nice font, nice reading layout. And the ability to look at it all in the one app then creates the problem, which is actually, it's a good thing, but it is a bad thing. So if I've got an app like Toot, which is an excellent app for, you know, just going through a timeline, it's not as pretty as something like Pixel Fed, and it's not as optimized for reading long form articles. So for example, I love using Unread, and as an RSS reader. - Oh yeah, yeah, good app. - You know, 'cause I'm an RSS kind of guy. Yeah, yeah, oh, it's a great app, it's fantastic, I love it. And the thing is about that is that that's optimized for a reading experience. It's almost the best possible way in my opinion is reading it on the iPad interface, but reading it on the iPhone as well is quite good. So it's really good at that and it takes up the max amount of space. It's got highly readable fonts and the way in which the scrolling and the segregation between the posts slash, you know, articles, however you want to think about it, has been optimized for that longer form reading experience. But if you put all of that into one app that can read everything, it's going to end up being a compromise for something. And whether you want to be precious about that or not, I mean, I don't know, but from my point of view, the ability to then choose which app you want to use for what is the ultimate in choice. Because right now you want to look at Twitter, you're going to use a Twitter app. I mean, I mean, okay, I know there's Tweetbot and there's Twitterific, but I mean, Twitter is crippling those. every year, it cripples them some more to the point at which they're going to become, they're already missing out on a whole bunch of features and functionality, which is horrible and frustrating because they never were that, they were never so hamstrung previously and now they are. So, and Facebook's always been like that. There's no other way to look at Facebook, go to the website, go to their app and just deal with it. And it's like, well, but with ActivityPub, you don't have to do that. The best app can win, which is awesome. Yeah, I think, you know, I'm coming because you you're absolutely right. Like I know I've always been a person who is I've always been weary of like a one thing that can do all of the tools. Like I've always been an app person, like right tool for the right job. I don't put everything in like a spreadsheet. You know, I'll use a variety of apps for storing that that kind of information, tools, whatever you want to call them. But there's one that I I wonder if there is an option that could work well or something that can serve as a good example, which might be Tumblr. Because Tumblr, the way that I'm thinking about it right now and I'm kind of just doing this on the fly, but Tumblr had that concept of post whatever type of stuff you want will design a good viewing experience for, I don't wanna say just anything you want, but they have like what, maybe six, maybe eight different post types, right? links, photos, text posts, galleries, videos, quotes. And so I wonder if there is an opportunity for these tools, even if it's an individual activity pub tool like Mastodon and Pleroma, or if it's an app designed to read all this stuff where they could go, yeah, I understand what a photo post from PixelFed should look like. I understand what a long form post from Rite-Azz should look like, and I can treat each of these things differently. I wonder if that could be an option for them. I'm sure it would be a lot more work. I am not a developer. I don't, I absolutely don't mean to be coming in here and saying, "Oh, it should be easy." You know, you should bang that out in a couple of weekends. - Yeah. - You know, that's absolutely not what I'm trying to do. But that being the goal of ActivityPub, I wonder if that would be one of the solutions, at least for end users, is understand that there's all different types of content here and maybe we can play to at least the largest ones that we can responsibly treat right. I think there's definitely room for that. And I think one of the things that I'm-- this is one of the things I want to make sure we talk about with FOSS and what drives those behaviors, is what I'm getting the sense of is that when back in the before time with Twitter, for example, when the APIs and third party developers were their friends and they're like, you know, hey, here's an API, knock yourself out, have a great time, we love you. It's all wonderful and roses and rainbows and stuff. You know, back in those days. And it's like, you would get different takes on how you should ingest certain things. And famously things like pull to refresh, it came from some of that. - Oh yeah. - And it's like some of the some really great creativity and individual companies made, I think a reasonable amount of money from it because in the end there was a motivation to do that. There was a lot of users, a lot of interest and that drove that development. Now on the FOSS side of things, if we wanna be strictly speaking, developing open source software and to be fully open source, many companies will not fully open source their software for commercial reasons, 'cause they don't want someone to just come in and claim their app and then put it in the app store for cheaper and then basically steal all their customers, which has happened and does happen regularly. So as long as that's a competing objective, is it really in their best interests to be fully open source? And I think the majority of companies are gonna say, well, no, we're not gonna do that. And therefore they're going to be to some extent shunned by the rest of the open source community that are involved in the social network development in FOSS. And so I tend to think that if you want to actually see movement, move the needle, as they say, in this space, then you need to make sure that you're encouraging as many people as possible, whether they are genuinely fully open source or not, to bring their best ideas to the table. If they're a paid app, if they're a free app, it doesn't bother me. I will pay for a good app if it's a good app, if it's solid and reliable and does what I need, I don't mind paying for it. In fact, how else do you encourage people to continue to do more of that? Apart from, you know, "Atta boy, you're doing a great job." It's like, you know, and... - Yeah, otherwise, through the goodness of their heart. - Yeah. And I realize now it's a borderline between, you know, capitalism, anti-capitalism, but I don't want to go down that rabbit hole. But the point is that I am very grateful that there are developers like Eugene Rocco, like Cirilio, like the Pleroma team, and of course Dan, developing Pixel Fed, Dan Supp. You know, he, it's like, I'm so grateful that they exist. And I have contributed to some of their Patreons from time to time. And it's like, I want them to succeed. But at the same time, there's a limit to how much they can succeed and how much they're motivated. And they're driven by their own self-motivation and their belief in that end result. And sometimes that doesn't drive an end result and move the needle as quickly as you could have if you're a bit more open to, it's okay to have paid apps. He will help you with this. You know, here's a standard API we're going to push or we're going to invest more time in developing activity pub as a standard or whatever that looks like, you know? - Right, right. And to me, that's a little bit frustrating because I feel like we should be further along than we are. And it's almost like that which created this ecosystem to an extent is now starting to hold it back in a different way, which is just interesting to me. Yeah, I've actually thought about this problem from, I think, a similar angle, and I haven't been able to to put it in that clear of context but it is it is an interesting problem and I'm not as involved in the open source community to have people to bounce some of these ideas off of so I have no idea how welcome or feasible any of some of the ideas that I've kicked around about it but one thing I've always thought is, like you brought up, it comes down to a lot of the people working on these projects have to have a day job, right? We live as unfortunate as I have grown to start agreeing. You have a day job, you have bills, you need to get that money, pay the bills, support the family, hopefully have some kind of a lifestyle that you enjoy. And so a lot of these projects are worked on on the side. So like what if there was some kind of a, I don't know, community or social endowment for these things. I realize this is very pie-in-the-sky, but let me know if I'm getting too far off the deep end here. But one thing I've wondered is, personally to me, one of the things that drives my interest, that drove my interest in Mastodon and the greater Fediverse and Activity Pub is I've grown to really prefer it as a way to organize online communities. I like the idea that I can find an instance of, you know, I'm really into video games. I didn't join a video game specific instance in the beginning, but let's say I did, you know, I found my people, right? And we can decide who we interact with, which other instances we deal with, and most Mastodon instances, and I would imagine Pleroma as well, are open. You You talk to everybody unless they turn into terrible people, like some of the Nazi instances popping up. I really like that approach because that's the way that we generally manage our communities in real life, I feel. You have your family, your neighborhood, your local people that you know, you decide which other neighborhoods you want to work with or who you want to help out in the city to build a thing or whatever. It feels much more organic that way to me. And so I've been thinking, what if there was some kind of, I don't know if it's a social pot or if it's some type of organization that we donate to, but there's ways for example, in the real world, well off the internet, I should say for a nonprofit organizations to work and hire employees and build the things that they do, whether it's a shelter or providing food or advocating for a cause or putting on events, whatever it is. You know, it's donated or it comes from the city in the form of grants, tax money, whatever. I wonder if something like that might be able to help. Like what if there was an organization, for example, just to try and bring things back down a little bit smaller, that we could donate to maybe a portion of our tax dollars went to or something that could hire people to build the Mastodon and Activity Pub and Pleroma and Pixel Fed protocols. these systems, these underlying foundations that provide this data, allow people to exchange things. And then on top of it, people can do whatever they want. If you want to build an open source Pleroma or Mastodon tool or app or whatever on top of it, you want it to be open source and that thing only interacts with that information as open source, you only want to talk to other open source people, fine. But the protocol, the underlying infrastructure is built and run and provided by the people one way or the other. I think that's an it, yeah. I know it's a little, uh, it's a little out there, but. No, I think that how we, how we fund, um, FOSS to make sure that this, this can development continues and, and activity pub and so on. There's a bunch of different funding models that, um, there doesn't seem to be one that everyone agrees is the right way to go. Um, for example, Eugene, uh, gets his funding from, uh, Patreon and I forget what his Patreon is. It's, it's, it's significant per month. And even that is a struggle. So someone like Dan, for example, Dan Sup for Pixel Fed, he said publicly many times, look, he greatly appreciates all of the donations and everything on Patreon, on the support, but he still needs a job, a JIB job in order to survive. So one of the reasons that Pixel Fed, I think, has taken so long has been because he's doing effectively two jobs and he's doing one he's being paid really well for, which is his JIB job, I say really well in air quotes, I mean, significantly better than the Patreon is for Pixel Fed. And that's what he needs to survive. And then, you know, the Pixel Fed stuff is his second job, which he's then doing, you know, because he loves doing it. But obviously, there's a limit to how much time he can spend on that. And so, you know, how you fund these things, and it's like, here's another problem is that if you have too many large contributors, then they can steer the direction of of a product and yeah, look, I like the idea of a community fund and I think that if people are actually doing, and maybe we should just talk a little bit about this as well, is that, you know, standing up your own instance of whatever it might be, whether it's PixelFed, Mastodon, Plurimumiski, it doesn't matter, right as you can set up your own. Other people will stand up ones that they want to. And if you join their instance, I don't think it's, I think it's perfectly fair and reasonable, kind of analogous to, for those that remember, it's okay to, I would say to pay, one or $2 a month, something to put towards their hosting costs. Some of these places will actually tell you what their hosting costs are. And I think that if we want to take advantage of their server and use it, then we should be okay to pay for just for the running costs at least. And then hopefully if there's enough support through those avenues, some of that money can get funneled back into the development of ActivityPub as well. So I sort of, I hope that maybe the way to do this is to anyone that does have an instance that is utilizing the software, they cover their costs with that and anything extra goes back into a bucket of money that goes into furthering developing the standards. But again, that's all very, you know, maybe a little bit pie in the sky, but yeah, I do think that I don't want to see this sort of stuff die, but at the same time, I want to see it move forward and it's a tough problem to solve. Yeah, and I think I do thank Patreon for I think they're playing a very large key role here because like you said, Eugene's Patreon I haven't looked at in a while either, but it's a decent chunk of money. And last I heard he hired at least one or two moderators because he runs the main, I shouldn't say main, but he runs the instance, which by far is the largest of the, let's say, general community. And that becomes, you know, that even becomes its own separate conversation, right? Because one of the goals of these projects and ActivityPub in general is to not have one large dominant entity. In fact, I've watched Eugene struggle with closing signups for his instance off and on over the last year because he agrees with that idea. He doesn't like having such a large instance from a management standpoint because he is still just one person with a mod or two that he's paying. They're at least paid mods. But also, I think it still comes back to this community aspect. The whole idea is to build our own little communities that talk to each other, much like we work in the real world. And both from a social and also a technical perspective, those are much easier to handle, right? Fewer users means fewer server resources. You're you and your community are paying, you know, pennies, maybe dollars versus 10s, if not hundreds of dollars with the really, really big instances that are are chewing up a lot of bandwidth and space. And so No, I for sure. Absolutely. Yeah. How do you fund all these tiny little communities, but also the advancement of the protocol on top of them? It's like this onion of goals and then problems and then hopes for building something of this scale. Yeah, absolutely. And the thing is that people forget, well, maybe they do, maybe they don't, but Twitter and Facebook are feeding you a timeline that is algorithmically determined, which I also talked with Seth Clifford about a few episodes ago and like last year. And they're doing that to drive reaction and they're driving ads to fund all the people to do the moderation and to pay their server costs and everything. And when you take all of that away and you're actually getting a genuine timeline unmodified and you're getting... Unless you're actually going to financially support the people running them. They are just running them out of their own hip pocket and their own sense of, "I want to do this and therefore, so long as I want to do this, it's all good." But as soon as they don't and they have other bills to pay, then the wheels fall off, instances will fall over and that's that. So I guess that sort of leads us into another thing I wanted to discuss quickly is just the pros and cons of people that want to stand up their own instance, like, "I've been crazy and I've gone and done that versus joining others. And because obviously of the costs, but it's also the moderation. So there's the physical cost as well as the, I would say the cost to your time. So in my case, I stood up a single user instance the second time around. The first time around when I did Mastodon originally, was actually a Mastodon instance initially. And because Pleroma just wasn't there yet. And also I hadn't heard about it at that point. There's another reason not to stand one up didn't know it existed. But anyway, that yes, so, and I invited people to join and I sent out limited invites and I had maybe about eight or nine people on there. And what I found is that all but two of them other than myself, so it was basically three of us were active on there and essentially, the two of us were, two out of the three were the most active. And what I found was that I would, you know, take the instance down to do an upgrade and there'd be a problem and then I'd have to go to go to work. And then I realized that when I got home that night, the site had actually been down for 12 hours. And then I'd get an email from one of the guys saying, hey, the website's down. I'm like, oh, okay. So of course, when I thought about it, having a multi-user instance, you have to be mindful of the impact of downtime to all the other users that are using it. You don't know what they're gonna upload. They could upload huge images or huge videos or whatever, 'cause you can put limits on it, obviously, but if the limit's like five meg for a photo when they upload a hundred photos, there's nothing stopping them from doing that. And that would seem to be fair use, but at the same time, then you are probably going to have to account for the fact that you could run out of disk space. So you've got to keep an eye on that. And then you've got to make sure that other people have expectations about, you know, if all my data disappears tomorrow, it's not the end of the world to me, but that doesn't mean it's not the end of the world for someone else. So someone else could be there using your instance and years and years of tweets, toots, what have you history. and then suddenly your server dies for whatever reason just dies and you've lost everything. And they're gonna be very upset with you because they were trusting you that you'd be doing that. And I was like, where's my Twitter archive or equivalent my Twitter archive, I can't get it anymore. And so you sort of take that on as a responsibility as well. So you need to stand up your instance, make sure there's plenty of space, make sure there's good uptime. It's gotta be backed up and so that you can give people their backups if it happens, if they need it. And that's just the mechanics of doing it. The next problem is the moderation piece, which you touched on just to circle back to that, is that moderation is a big job, because once your instance gets to a certain size, you're gonna have people join that, may or may not have nefarious intent. They may be just think it's perfectly okay to post something that you find horribly distasteful. And if other people then say, well, I'm flagging this for moderation. Some moderators got to look at that and say, and make a judgment call. And then it comes down to, right, well, what's my usage policy? Is this fair use? Is this not? And then you end up being the policeman and it's like, okay, well, I'm going to start now spending a few hours a day moderating my instance. And so that's now cost on your time. And so all of that boils down to, well, if you're in the case of you, Jen Rocco, you've got enough money coming in, you can pay someone to moderate. But a lot of people, their instances aren't going to make that kind of money. So they'll be moderating themselves. And it could be there could be a delay. I mean, let's say you're working a job and you're expected to moderate your instance, someone puts up something that's absolutely horrific. And it's offending lots of people. And that reflects poorly on you. Why didn't you take that down within five minutes? And so we have a go at Twitter. It's like, how come you didn't ban this person now inciting violence or they're doing whatever, whatever, and their stuff's up there for a week. It's like, well, they've got a whole team. And I'm going to judge them on the fact that they're a company, they've got a team, they've got strict guidelines, they should have done it. And now, on the Fed Averse, the expectation is the same of individuals, like we would expect, oh, how come that hasn't been pulled down in the first 5-10 minutes? And it's like, well, because it's one person, they're not funded, and they're doing it in their own spare time. And there's even a number of layers there too. One that comes of mine is from what I've been following in this Fediverse and ActivityPub conversation is this is one of the reasons why they believe in having lots and lots of small little communities that talk together. So in a way it works kind of like email. Email has been one of the really good analogies that's worked for me on explaining the general overview to other people. Like I have my own email server on my own domain, but you use Gmail and someone else uses Yahoo or whatever. We can all email each other. They talk to each other. It's fine. So one advantage of having all those little small communities is that it's from a community organization standpoint, because this is part of what I also do for a job for my contract work living, it takes away at least some of those incentives for the trolls and the abuse. It's obviously not a catch-all in any way, but if you have a little community of 20 people, even 10 people, you and some of your friends, it is much less appetizing to try and join that and start wrecking stuff versus, which the last time I looked has about 300,000 people. Yeah. And so that's one of the built-in advantages from a community organization, from a moderation standpoint is if you keep that stuff small, you're more likely to run into those things. I'm saying this wrong. You're much less likely to run into some of those big spam common problems. The other thing, the other advantage here is, you know, we're talking about moderation and being able to pay people to moderate, but, you know, there've been those stories flying around lately where people who do moderate content for some of these large networks have come out and That is a, it's an awful job. - Oh yeah. - I mean, even if you have great moderation tools and or a team that you're working with or whatever, like the stuff that people need to keep off of these networks is awful. And if it's your job to do that day in and day out, to watch for that stuff, analyze it, I mean, you can't just look at it and like hit a button. Well, I can't speak too much to that. I haven't done it, but your job is to analyze that content and decide whether it can stay on the network. Like that, that's no small task. I've had to do that for some small communities and that you have to think about it. You have to see it, you know, and these people go through, they develop awful mental health problems. And that's, that's something if, if, if having like little smaller pockets of communities and, and making, you know, abuse less attractive to at least some of these players and also helps people avoid having to do that work, I'm definitely all for it. If that can help at all. For sure. Oh, for sure. I think you make a good point about moderated burnout. And there was a, because I, you know, again, naivety and all that, we learn these things somehow in interesting ways. But I actually became aware of that. There was an episode of a short-lived TV show recently, CSI Cyber, which whilst some of the show concepts sort of stretched reality. There was a heavy basis in fact for a lot of what they did. And there was one particular episode that they actually looked at a moderator for a social network that essentially was suffering from some severe mental health problems because of all the stuff that they were subjected to, desensitizing them to a bunch of stuff and they kind of went off the rails a bit. And I did a bit of research into that and it's a real thing. It's a real problem. And it's the sort of thing that you don't think about. You just think, "Oh, click. Yeah, is offensive and you don't think about the person on the other end who actually has to look at this but not just this one you found, the hundreds and hundreds or thousands of others that they were also asked to look at and they have to look at it, make a decision and then move on to the next photo and you know it's a punishing job for any human to have to do. It's bad enough that people would post things that are horrible but it's worse to think that all that's funneled then into a handful of people to assess and say if they're right or wrong. But in any case, that's That's the multi-user instance thing. If you want to set up your own moderation, I think is a stressful thing. And one of the advantages of a single user instance is that technically there's no moderation to worry about unless you're counting your own self moderation. 'Cause I mean, technically, I guess muting and blocking is technically moderation, but you're moderating what you see and that's okay. I think people are okay with that. So there's a lot of, if you don't want to set up your own instance and have that control versus joining another instance, I would say that if you wanted to have no hassle, just join an existing instance and support them. If you want to set up your own instance and have air quotes control, because there's a limit of how much control you really have anyway, then I would suggest start at a single user instance because taking on a multi-user instance is a whole bag of extra pain. You better really want it, I think is the message. - There is also, there can be also a little bit of help and I'm starting to see some similarities to like the early days of blogging, which I kind of came up through and got my part-time and then my full job through. And in the very early days, it was very similar. Like there were very few services that you could use to start up a blog. You could run some of your own software and it was clunky to set up and it was a lot of maintenance and spam became a thing. And we never really had great tools for that early on. But I think there are some small improvements happening in this realm of ActivityPub sort of this open social publishing network and I think one of them would be these managed hosting companies that are popping up like mast.hosts. Have you seen them? Oh yeah, absolutely. Yeah, you're quite right. Yes. So they're, and of course there's now there's a financial component here because of course they're not free. They're businesses. But mast.hosts, I think it's seven or eight a month, because I believe they're hosted over there somewhere. I'm in the US in Chicago, Illinois. I think it works out to about eight bucks a month. I spun one up because I'm playing around with an idea for a Mastodon instance. But they, when I say manage, it's everything. They do the updates for you. You give them a domain name. You have to toss in a couple settings in your domain name provider. So as long as you have this experience or this knowledge of how to adjust these settings, you can get a single user instance pretty easily for what I would say is somewhat cheap. Not that everybody can afford it, but somewhat cheap considering what it is. And now you've got a single user instance and you could lock down signups all you want and just say, you know, this isn't the instance for you. And now you can plug into the greater network with a fairly low cost and hopefully deal with far fewer of those moderation problems. Exactly. And I'm glad you brought that up because that had slipped my mind. And I do think that I think Pluroma is going to start pushing their own hosted options as well. So you can pay them and they'll maintain an instance for you and you can be single user, multi-user, whatever you like. And that's great because it gives people that aren't technically as technically inclined the ability to essentially still own their own experience. and in the end, it's not that much more than it would cost me to run mine. I'd have $15 a year plus the domain. So it's $15 a year US, the other hosts will probably be a little bit more than that, but it's not significantly more. But in any case, I think we should probably talk a little bit more about the apps because we touched a little bit on them and it's been a while since I sort of went through the list and there's much more now than there was, which is good. So just starting on iOS. So the three that I've most frequently used and the funny thing is, there's a lot more than this but these are the ones I come to the most. So there's Toot! which is the one I mentioned before from Dag Agron. Amarok, which is done by, I think his handle is like Erasureboy or something like that. And Mast, which is done by his handles like JPEG at I think it's Maston Technologies or something like that. And that's, yes. So those are the three that I tend to switch between. And I keep coming back to Toot just because I love the user interface and I love how it backfills the Toots and it gives you the ability to fill in the timeline in either direction, which is really nice. So if there's a gap, you can like scroll up and it'll fill upwards. You scroll down, it'll fill down, which is a feature that none of the others seem to do very well, which is great. But do you have any other ones on iOS that you've played with? So I've bounced between Mast and Toot. I also found one called Toot Don, like Mastodon, Toot Don. And one of the unique things I think it does is, I think it probably has the most traditional sort of social networking design to it. Like it feels like it could easily turn into a Twitter app if the developer wanted it to. And one of the unique things it does, I haven't used it in a little while, but it has a dedicated tab, I believe, just for like watching hashtags. And I think like looking at, you know, maybe the most popular hashtags, I think either on your local and or public timelines, I can't remember, but it builds in some of that idea of sort of looking at what is, you know, this bubble that I have talking about right now? What hashtags are they using? You know, what are people putting into their toots to help them get found? 'cause that's why you would use a hashtag generally, right? And I think that's a really useful tool. And I also really love that apps are in this space right now where it feels to me, again, coming up through Twitter, but I loathe that place now, but I remember the very early days of those early apps where they were inventing the innovative stuff. I remember Twitterific, I think, invented the @ in the first place. Like, I'm pretty sure it was Twitterific that invented the concept of @ username to get that person's attention. And that was really fun. Like you have this base foundational protocol and then these apps are building all this really interesting, clever, unique stuff on top of it. And then the protocol decides to adopt it because people start using it. You know, the @ and the hashtag obviously became canon, basically. I feel we're kind of like in that place with Mastodon apps right now. They have these unique interfaces, they do certain things in different ways and you can find something that fits the way you want to work a little bit better. And I really enjoy that. - Oh yeah, absolutely. Yeah, me too. And I think that it could be moving a little bit faster. I would have liked it too, but some of the bigger names that have sort of dipped their toes in the water from the Twitter side. So for example, Sean Hever, I think it is from Tapbots, I think. - Oh yeah. - Tapbots or Twitter. But in any case, he was sort of dipping his toe on the Fediverse there for a while. and he was having a play, but he'd never actually went ahead and as far as I know anyway, they certainly haven't really seen anything I'm aware of. I was really hoping that they'd release something like that, but like for the Fediverse, but they haven't yet. So I think that as it gets more momentum and there's more business opportunity and hopefully some of those bridges between the FOSS purists and the commercial software developers can sort of be bridged a little bit better and a bit more cooperation and we can get something moving a bit more quickly. On the Mac side, I've been frustrated because everything until very recently was an Electron app, which I understand and I don't wanna sound like I'm some kind of a purist and that anyone that develops Electron apps, is like, "Oh, they're not really an app." It's like, well, they are, it's just that they have certain restrictions and limitations that make them somewhat annoying to use on a Mac, but that doesn't mean they're unusable. It's just that not as smooth as they could be. So in any case, I started out with using WhaleBird, which is an Electron app. - Oh, yeah. - Yep, which is not too bad. I don't mind it. It had some interesting multi-account issues, which eventually they sorted, which is great. Hyperspace, I tried more recently, another Electron app, again, not too bad. And the newest one I've come across is one called The Desk, which I've sort of started playing with, but I'll be honest, it came out around the same kind of time as Masternaut. And Masternaut, as far as I'm aware, is the first and only native Mac application for the Fediverse. - Yes, as far as I know too, yeah. - Yeah, and I think his name's Bruno Filipe, I think, I'm trying to remember, the developer for Masternaut. And it did have a couple of interesting bugs in it that he squashed, there's a few more I'm waiting on the next update. He's also working at integrating Notification Center properly and ShareSheet extensions and a few other things that you get when you have a native app that you can do with a native app that you can't do with Electron, for example. And that's the stuff I'm looking for is that deeper integration into the operating system to give me more flexibility. 'Cause what I wanna be able to do is I wanna be able to easily share from the native app from a ShareSheet extension. If I'm on a webpage on Safari to be able to share that to Mastodon without having to jump through a few dozen hoops, which is currently quite difficult to do. And there may be other ways I'm not aware of, but. - Yeah, you're absolutely right. I mean, that's one of the core benefits of native apps. And I don't know if Electron apps can get there and their users and developers just aren't doing it. But like you had mentioned, like a native app integrates with the share sheet. You know, it's just a couple clicks to share something rather than like, you know, it just creates a lot of friction when they're not. And I'm the same. I recently discovered Mastodon, and it is a very solid, very Mac-like app for Mastodon. And that feels really great to me. And you're right, the developer's been iterating on it pretty well. They added, you know, app mentions and support for a lot of the core features. I don't know if you could do things like polls yet, But that one, if you're on a Mac, I would definitely take a look at, keep your eye on, 'cause I bought that almost right away after looking at it in the store. It's just, it's great. And in terms of growing support and trying to grow the user base, which will create more of an incentive for more people to work on these projects, to build apps, whether they're FOSS or paid apps, whatever, I'm hoping to try and get more, I'm hoping to see more support from some of the larger players out there. And one thing I've been very happy to see is Apple actually featuring Mastodon apps a few times over the last year or so, which actually kind of surprised me, but they've done it a few times. Mast got featured. One of the really big recent updates for Mast, it got featured, and I'm talking like front page on the iPhone under like our favorite new apps or something like that. They've posted, you know, roundups of like certain types of workflows, like here's how to publish online or here's how to write, you know, quick pieces out on social media and they would list Mastodon as one of your options. And so they'd list, you know, a couple apps for Mastodon and there's a utility called Linky on iOS that basically makes it really easy to share links on social networks. And the name of the app is Linky for Twitter and Mastodon and Apple's featured that a few times, actually. So I hope little mentions like that, you know, it's all about raising awareness, right? It's why advertising still exists as much as I hate it many times and in many ways. Like these, you know, these things can, once you get those words out there in front of people, every little bit can help. Oh, absolutely right. And Linky is a great, I'm glad you brought that up as well, because that's not technically like a Mastodon app or a Fediverse app, but it allows you to post links to the Fediverse. So technically it kind of is, even though it's not a client for reading it. Anyway, so on Android, Tusky, Subway, Tudor and Federalab are the ones that are, I believe, the most popular. And another one that I think is worth mentioning, which is Linux only, I believe, is one called Toodle. In particular, I'd have to say on iOS, Mast has definitely been the most ambitious in terms of things that it's tried. So the developer for Mast has tried all sorts of things like a scrolling thumb wheel to go through the timeline, which is a bit odd to get used to, but it's interesting. But I do want to start, sort of move on a little bit and talk a little bit about Pixel Fed. 'Cause we've sort of touched a little bit on this, but I really want to just go into this a little bit 'cause I've been excited about Pixel Fed for at least a year. And I've even went so far as setting up my own instance because, you know, that shouldn't surprise anybody. I mean, come on, I've set up my master I've set up for him. So no one is shocked probably. Yeah. - That's how you do. - That's just how I roll. (laughs) - Because I'm crazy and I just sound monisters. But so I set it up a while ago and I knew that it didn't support Federation at the time but I didn't mind because I wanted to do Instagram but I hate Facebook with a growing passion. So it seemed like the answer. So I got a domain It was cheap, does the job. And I stood that up and I posted like six or seven photos But then I realized that there's no network effect because right now without Federation support, well, at that time there was no Federation support, all I could do was link to it. So, I would create a post, create a link, post that on Mastodon. That's what I did because Federation didn't work. So, about nine months ago, maybe something like that, they introduced the ability for Mastodon and Pleroma users to follow pixel fed instances. So the activity pub would work in one direction only. And that's an important distinction because only this week, literally only two or three days ago, Dan Supp, the developer, he actually then has enabled support for Mastodon accounts in the other direction. So now you're in PixelFed, you have a PixelFed instance, you can now follow a Mastodon account from PixelFed. So Mastodon and PixelFed will now actually inter-federate. So they'll actually federate as you'd expect out of the box. And yeah. Yeah. I thought that that's really interesting. I kind of liked that idea and I liked the way that Dan's done it. And he said that he'll only pull down posts that are picture posts. So Pixel Fed will only show pictures from Masson. So if you type in, in Masson, Hey, I'm just landed in LA, whatever, which is the opening line of Pleroma, but nevermind. So, cause yeah, when you, when you open a plural instance, it's the suggested text it says for your post is just landed in LA. - It's an odd one, but okay. - It is, Plural has got some weird little touches like that, but anyhow, it's kind of like a running gag, but nevermind. So when you type something like that in there, Pixel Fed won't pull that down 'cause there's no photo as part of it, it's just text, so it doesn't care. - That's really interesting. - Which I think is, yeah, which I think is a good choice because if you're trying to keep Pixel Fed for photos, then that makes sense intuitively. So if I go to Pixel Fed, I'm looking at photos, like we said before, context sensitive, you know, that's what I'm there to do, makes sense. But the thing that's frustrating though, is that, and I know that Dan is, as I've said before, previously, he has a full-time job, plus he's doing this on his spare time. He doesn't have the sort of budget that Eugen has got. He's doing this because he loves and he believes in it. But the reality is, it's getting that federation working, it's like, that's a hard slog. and he doesn't have any real help or not much help. And so right now, Pixel Fed doesn't federate with itself, which sounds crazy, but that's where we're at right now. So right now, if I want to go to, I can't follow a Pixel Fed social account from my Pixel Fed instance. I can't follow it. And they can't follow me. - Software is hard. - So that's frustrating. It is hard. - Software is hard. - It is. And so I'm looking forward to inter-PixelFed Federation working. He said publicly a few days ago that he will now work on getting Pleroma. So PixelFed will then be able to follow people from Pleroma, which is great. But it's really the inter-instances I'm most interested in. So when that happens, I think then it'll have the ability to take off. Because each of the instances can then talk to each other without relying on Mastodon or Pleroma to prop it up, essentially, which is what it currently does. Right. And I think that's really powerful because I've met people who are like, I really enjoy... Just the other day I met someone who's like, I really enjoy X, Y, and Z people on Twitter, but I don't have a Twitter account and I don't want to visit Twitter to see their stuff. So I feel like I'm kind of missing out. And we were trying to find a solution for that. And I think they use a feed reader like Feedly or something. And Feedly is one of these... They made a business out of being a feed reader and as a product, I think it's very good. One of their features is you can follow people from Twitter in the feed lead newsreader. Like you just have to toss in a username and I don't know exactly how they're scraping the data because I know Twitter got rid of like their RSAs feeds and such but that's one of their their features. And so I like this concept of I don't want to have an account on whatever service that is but I still like that person on it. I wish there was a way I could view their stuff. So you don't have to sign up for Pixel Fed if you're on Mastodon, but you love photography, you can still get those photos from that artist that you love or whoever. And it's a great concept. I think it's one of the really powerful things of the Fediverse and the activity pub infrastructure. I think you're totally right. Once Pixel Fed gets that fully fleshed out, it'll be powerful. Yeah. And that's an interesting point as well regarding Instagram versus Facebook versus Twitter. And that's sort of why I care so much about Pixel Fed is because I've observed that sort of that relationship with... So people will have an account on all three. What do you post to where? And it's like, right now, I've noticed that there's been a bit of a jump or drain or switch away. A lot of the people that I traditionally followed on Twitter are now more active on Instagram than they are on Twitter anymore. And the interactions on Instagram are almost overwhelmingly positive. Here's a photo. I'm doing something. It's the sunset. It's my kids playing. It's the dog chasing a ball. It's whatever it is, something personal, something nice, something relatable. It's like, it's hard to sort of like have a dump on that and say, Like, geez, great ball or sunset looks horrible. You know what I mean? It's like, it's- Hmm. Yeah. Yeah. Interesting. Whereas on Twitter, it's like at the beach and there'll be some comments saying, well, geez, I hope you like getting sand and everything. And it's like, what? Yeah. Okay. It just, it seems to me like for some reason, because maybe it's just the language problem. you know, when I write down, I'm having a nice day, as opposed to I take a photo of it's a nice day outside, we just relate to the photo of the day outside being very nice and we enjoy that as opposed to I'm having a nice day and then us reflecting on how we're not having a nice day or something. It seems to me like photo sharing seems to be far more of a positive, interesting activity than just typing a few sentences of frustration or whatever, even if it's positive, it doesn't matter, it seems to get negative on Twitter. So I'm looking forward to Pixel Fed to be an option to do that and have that experience without having to deal with the fact that it's owned by Facebook, that they're gaming the timeline and that they're using me as a product and all of the problems with privacy that Facebook have. So that's one of the reasons I am so excited about what Dan is doing and why I really, really want him to keep working on it and why I think there are a lot of people in the Fediverse that have a similar opinion about Pixel Fed and it's got a lot of traction and I really do sincerely hope it takes off and succeeds 'cause I want to see it succeed. - You know, on that point, I am not at all affiliated with Dan, but I completely agree. I love Pixel Fed and I'd love to see them improve. So this is not like a sponsored mention or whatever, but yeah, he's @dansup. I think he's I forget where his personal account is, but his Patreon is DanSupp. So if you want to support him, if you want to learn more about Pixel Fed, you can go to and I highly encourage it. I love the service. I have an account myself and I completely agree. We are visual creatures. I think Facebook saw that in very early days when Instagram first started exploding and before Facebook bought it. And I mean, you can even look to Facebook, how, did you ever see those early comparisons? I don't see them float around anymore, but there was a graph sort of the volume of photos that Facebook has in comparison to previous services like Flickr and the Library of Congress. It was, the one that I saw was like a, it was like a pink box and far, far down in the lower left corner, way, way, way, way down there was a tiny little like, like reddish box and that was like Flickr. And then a tiny, tiny little box in there was a library of Congress. Previously, those two things were the largest bodies of photos. And this is, I mean, this has to have been back around like 2014, 2013 or something when I saw this graph like Facebook before they got crazy with Instagram, like was already people sharing photos was by far, by light years, by thousands and thousands of times over any other type of post type, that was what people shared. And so yeah, photos are powerful and I really do hope we can find some way to support Dan better and whoever else is working on Pixel Fed. I haven't looked at the rest of the team. I don't know if he's the only contributor to it because I do hear him talk about like we like we finished you know X Y & Z feature we're almost done with a you know new whatever. So I hope I think there's at least a few other people working on the project. Yeah there are there are other people contributing to the code base and he does try and process those the pull requests as they come in. You do see it from time to time but there's also no question that he is definitely driving it setting the direction and doing the bulk of the programming. I think that, just to echo your statement, I think if anyone does want to see Pixel Fed or like a genuine Instagram alternative, because to be honest, there doesn't seem to be any Fediverse compliance like Tabularity Pub compliant or web mention compliant, decent equivalence to Instagram. And so that's one of the reasons I really want to to succeed. So if you can support Dan and what he's trying to do with Pixel Fed, then I'd strongly encourage you to do that. And at least, if nothing else, just go and check it out and see if it's for you. So I want to move on, if we can, there's a couple more things I want to talk about before we wrap up. And I guess the next one is, one of the attractions of the Fediverse is the idea that you should be able to migrate between instances. And I sort of, so let's say you start out on, like we both did on And then I went off and started my own instance and you went off to Toot Cafe, I think it is. And yeah, and so how easy that is and why it's problematic. And so I'll just go quickly through sort of like from worst to best. So first of all, pleuroma is quite possibly only slightly the most difficult in order to do that. So you can migrate your follows, you can migrate your mutes and blocks. In other words, you can export them and then re-import them in a new instance. But that's it. You can't export your posts and import them and start again on another instance. Nor can you do that on Mastodon. The only other thing you can do on Mastodon you can't do on Parama is you can actually, there's an embedded switch, like a feature you can actually say in Mastodon in your user account settings, hey, I've gone to this instance and it will then direct people to that new account on this new instance, which you don't currently have in Plurim. The way I handled that is you just put that in the text of your description, like inactive, I've moved to this account. But whereas the Mastodon, it's automatic. Like it has that functionality to automatically redirect you, which is great. But there's still no way to migrate your posts. And I thought, well, why is this the case? And it's because of the way in which they index the identifier with your instance. So the connection between the time and the date of your post and the identifier on that specific instance is a unique combination. And pulling that out of one instance and moving it to another is problematic because if you replicate that, the same instance technically will exist on both instances, but have different ID numbers, even if the time and date and content is the same. And there's a whole bunch of ways you could deal with that. But for whatever reason, the developers for MassLine Unemployment just decided, you know what, we're not dealing with that right now. And we're gonna leave that in a too hard basket for the minute. So the reason I sort of wanted to mention this is because sometimes instances will go away. You wanna change instances for a different reason. You wanna stand up your own single user instance or something, and you wanna take all your posts with you right now between MassLine Unemployment, you can't, which is annoying. - Yeah, it's certainly tough. And it's something that I've been asking mostly Eugene about, especially because I ran into this very problem, switching instances. And I can't speak to the technical difficulty behind it, not being a developer and not actually looking at any of the project code, but from a community management standpoint, I can see some cases both for and against. So I can't imagine it's been an easy discussion from many of the angles that they have to deal with. So like as an end user, when I moved, of course I wanted to bring, I mainly wanted my follows and followers to remain the same. You can bring along, at least on Mastodon, you can bring along the people that you follow, the people you're interested in, but anybody who follows you, that relationship gets broken and they have to re-follow you manually, you know, in the new place. And that really bummed me out. And I was asking him for that for a while, because I feel like that's, I made those relationships, I'd like them to stay even if I move somewhere. And I think I used various analogies like in the real world, even if I move to a different address, the people I know still know me and et cetera. Not every analogy holds up perfectly, but from an abuse standpoint, I can certainly see problems because you know spam accounts that start you know spam following tons of people post tons of awful awful content and now They you know, they know that they're about to get struck down or blocked or or kicked off You know, they can just up and export everything or do whatever the the account, you know authorization handoff would be and they move everything over to the new place and It all stays there. They can keep harassing whoever from a brand new domain so I I can see I can absolutely see some of the the the darker sides of of enabling a feature like this. I can't imagine it's an easy discussion or problem to solve. And I also haven't heard much about it since, you know, the discussion has come around a couple of times, but I really haven't seen it crop up recently. So maybe they're focusing on some other priorities right now. - I think that they just keep kicking the can down the road as far as I can tell. But the thing is between Mastodon and Pleroma, the way that they're architected for whatever reason, they've just chosen not to deal with that. But the thing that I find interesting, and I haven't had a chance to test this, but I did stand up an account on Mistkey a while back and had a play with it. And at some point since I last played with it and a few days ago, when I just, you know, just a little bit of a check-in before we have a chat about it. And I was surprised to find that they've added sometime, however long it's been, a year or so, whatever, you can now actually import and export notes. And that's what they call toots or in plural, it's just a post or technically if you wanna go on the name of the button, it's a submit, but anyway. (laughing) - But I'm- - 'Cause I'm mastered on it says toot and then on the plural it says submit. So anyway, yes, so here, have a look at my submit. Anyway, so yes, so notes is what they call it. And you can import and export notes, but I haven't tried it. And of course it can do all the rest of it, like followers, blocked lists, muted lists. And the auto refollowing thing as well, I think is actually, is also a problem. So I don't think it supports that either for all the same reasons we just talked about. They also support lists on MISCII, for example, which they don't easily support on the others exactly. Well, they do, but in a different way, but you can't export and import them. So MISCII seems to be another step down the road, but still not quite there either. And maybe there needs to be an agreed correct way of handling user migration for ActivityPub at a standard level, and then each of the services then need to support that. Maybe that's the ultimate answer here. But in any case, it's something to be aware of. And hence my advice is always choose your instance carefully. You know, is it likely to be around in another 12 months? Is that actually a problem? Because I mean, if it's not a problem and you're going to set up auto delete on your tweets after a week, then maybe it doesn't matter. Yeah, but if you want people to find you and keep finding you, Otherwise, if you try and skip, hop between instances, you'll just lose followers every single time. And if that's a problem to you, then that's a problem. 'Cause I know that when I jumped, I had like 160 followers on the Fediverse in the beginning in my Mastodon account. On Mastodon, when I was on Engineered Space, originally my Mastodon, when I jumped to Pleroma, I had to change my account name and only about 50 or 60 people followed me. And then I had to jump back again for a whole bunch of different reasons. I think I've got something like 45 followers now or something. I haven't looked actually. I should have a look. Yeah, it's certainly a problem that could use solving at some point. And your idea of having it built at the foundation in ActivityPub is really interesting. I hadn't thought of that. But one thing that I think helps at least a bit with, you know, sort of if you have any unsurity about like, can I join this instance? Is it going to be around? You know, is it, is it a decent instance? Is it run by, you know, decent people? Do they have a code of conduct? All the instances, well, most of the instances at least we'll, we'll publish that and let you know right up front, but the site, the like main, you know, hub, at least user facing hub, if you're interested in mastodon, thinking about signing up, whatever. I know Eugene and the other people that work on this site, they recently created sort of a directory of instances. It's kind of a curated directory. It's not just a free for all. And I don't know exactly what the criteria was for it. Are you familiar with this? I am. And I haven't spent much time looking at the criteria, but I'm aware of the list. So I know it's curated. I know that they talked about setting specific rules that you have to agree to in order to be listed here. So they are proofing this, they are choosing which instances get to show up here. And it's also filterable. I'm looking over it right now just to make sure I'm not talking any telling lies here. But you can look by language, you can look by categories, general art, journalism, furry, gaming, whatever you're looking for. And these instances had to agree to a certain type of criteria. So there's at least some relationship, at least a statement of commitment there. I don't imagine anybody who's running a free-for-all instance is going to try and get listed in here and then just disappear next week. These are decent-sized instances, they have a good chunk of people, and the main Mastodon team has put at least some kind of, maybe a stamp is too large of a word on it. So hopefully that might help a little bit. And the website is just a little bit, let's say, friendlier and better designed than some of the other libraries of instances. It's a little bit easier to browse, I feel. - Yeah, for sure. And it definitely helps. And I think that there's definitely progress being made in finding and selecting the right instance for you, which is really good to see. So, I guess just yeah, anyway, so we'll put a link to that in the show notes. There's one more thing that I did want to talk about on this before we wrap it up. And it's a bit of a, I don't know, it's a bit of a touchy subject, this one. And I wanted to talk about it because it disturbs me a lot. And because I think it's a massive challenge to social networking. And I'm talking about Gab. - Yeah. - And yeah. And so this has been something that I, you know, it's not like I've been living under a rock, but at the same time, I hear about bits and pieces of this going on around me. And it's something, it's a site that I've never actually been to. And so most of what I know is from secondhand and it's the sort of site that I don't think I ever want to go to, but that's not necessarily the point. What's interesting to me is how the open source community and the Fediverse has handled this. That's actually what's interesting to me. So in August, 2016, some guy started a site where people could post whatever they wanted without any censorship, essentially. And they said it was in reaction to mass censorship by social media platforms. It used an upvote/downvote system. Eventually, they removed the downvoting, so it's just upvoting. And again, I never visited the site, so I can just say what I saw from screenshots, but in any case, there's a link in the show in case you really care. And the site very quickly sort of became full of like anti-Semitic, neo-Nazi, hate speech, the sorts of things that just, just not pleasant. And in about late 2018, I think their time kind of was up. The domain, I think, got suspended. They were banned from hosting their site on a whole bunch of different providers. Stripe, I think, stopped processing their payments, things really sort of fell apart. And they developed a plugin called dissenter, as in dissenting, I don't know, dissenter. Anyway, for web browsers that allowed people to comment on any website via that service. And then a few months ago, this is where it becomes relevant to the Fediverse, is a few months ago, they took the Mastodon codebase that Ugen had written, and they forked it to create their own customized version and joined the Fediverse. And I say joined in air quotes, because what happened next is kind of interesting. So, how much are you aware of what's been happening with Gab? I've followed that. And what, from the beginning, if I recall, a lot of these people involved with it were kicked off of 4chan and 8chan, which are some of the other previous sites that champion free speech and some of the most awful stuff that you could ever see people publish online. And so they have, yeah, they've got quite a bit of a long standing of doing stuff like this. And I followed this Gab instance spin up. And what I thought was really interesting, and this ties back to one of the things that I like about this concept of communities that work with each other and decide to talk to each other like most of the Fediverse has, is many of the instances, their admins, the people or the teams who run them, talk to each other. They, I know they have at least a discord, probably like an email list and who knows what else. And there's also a community block list that many of these instances use. And so one thing I don't think we've touched on a whole lot is that instances can block each other at the instance level. So if you're on, you know, my.instance.happyplace, you could just completely block if you wanted to. And so none of your users would see anything from just because your admin blocked them for you. You don't have to do that on your own. And as I understand it, most of the instances in, at least on mastodon again, because that's where kind of my personal focus is, I can't speak for like pluroma and others, they basically just said, "Yeah, we're not having this. These people are just here to destroy and be angry and say terrible things." And so most of them blocked Gab almost immediately. Yes. And so it's this really odd situation now where technically speaking, I regret to say, if this is correct, that Gab almost instantly became the largest instance because they are unfortunately a very, very large community and website, but it's also basically blocked by the majority of the rest of the Fediverse. And so, yeah, it's a very odd situation to have been following, especially from the way communities work in this particular aspect. - Yeah, it has been interesting. And the interesting part of it is that, so there's two levels of, I should say, sort of ring fencing, maybe is the right way of saying. I mean, we're blocking it, but where essentially all of the server administrators, or not all of them, but certainly the vast majority have got that block list and have just decided, you know what, I'm blocking Gab 'cause they don't like them, but I don't like what they stand for. And for the most part, they've been penned off into a corner of the Fediverse. And yes, if you have an instance where they're not blocked, you can of course follow people on their instance. And if you want to, then that's an option. But that decision was made by the server administrators. And, and it's like, well, they're running and their position is I don't want someone to pull down a copy of something horrific, which then will come on to my local timeline, which could then end up being moderated, which is then going to be more work for me. And therefore, you know that I'm trying to save myself that frustration and that extra work other it could also the other side of is simply just on principles like I don't believe in anything that gab do therefore, that's it. I don't care if any my if any of my users don't like it, they can go join another instance, right? So, it's kind of like, that's the equivalent of Twitter sort of like saying, well, you're not allowed to post cat pictures anymore, you know, because we said so. The difference in the FedFers is that you have a choice. You can go to a different, you can go and set up your own if you want to, you can go and join the Gab instance if you want to, I guess. You know, it's like, that's that choice. But watching what all of the people, the vast majority, certainly that I've observed, basically said, nope, that's it, you're done, you're blocked. And it's like, I kind of like that. I like that, that we collectively have agreed that this is not a good thing. And therefore we can do this as opposed to being at the mercy of what a board of people at Twitter might decide, or not decide. Exactly. I think that's one of the most powerful aspects of this community management. Because I also should mention that you as a user can also block entire instances, if you want to. It's not only up to your admin. So let's say you're on an instance that has a decent code of conduct, but your admin has decided for whatever reason not to block something like Gab, but you don't want to leave just yet. Maybe you've built up a lot of community there or it's too much work, whatever your reasoning might be, you yourself could just go and block Gab at your level, at your personal user level. So everybody has a bit of power and choice here. And I think that's incredibly powerful, not to keep banging the same drum, but again, from a community management standpoint, and I think it also much better reflects how we work in the real world. Because like you said, there isn't some board of directors who are deciding which communities I get to talk to in general. I and my neighborhood and my family get to decide who we talk to and who we try to build things with and what people we let enter our home. I think it much better fits the way we work as people and communities. And I think that's something very, very powerful. And I think Mastodon and other Fediverse services could probably use some better messaging around these concepts because they're kind of hard to wrap your head around and explain to other people. But I see it happen often that when people get it, when it starts clicking, it makes sense. makes a lot of sense. And so yeah, I was really happy to see the response. I was really bummed out to see some of the news just completely misunderstand what's going on. Because I saw these headlines of like, you know, Nazis are now the largest mastodon community. And it's like, Oh, no, you're this just went in the totally wrong direction of how this stuff is. Yeah, no, no, it did that that's sort of, but that's also a bit clickbaity. And it depends on how you want to think about things. But I guess one of the things that I found interesting though, is if we just go beyond that part of the discussion, which is server admins and blocking and individuals within their own user accounts blocking Gab or anyone else or anything else for that matter, what has been, I think, unique, or at least maybe not unique in the fullness of time, but certainly for the moment, it's the first instance I'm aware of, where developers of software decided that they disliked Gab so much that they would then take that matter into their own hands. and they would say, "You know what? I'm going to block that in my app because I don't want anyone in my app seeing anything from Gap." And that took it to a different place that I'd never seen. And it's interesting because what's now happened is that some of these apps that were considered to be either open source or FOSS, despite the fact that some of them were paid and hence, and don't have all of their code base fully published and therefore technically aren't FOSS. But because they're not entirely FOSS, but they're connecting to something like Plumber or Masson that is considered to be FOSS. Therefore they are FOSS by association or something. I'm not entirely sure how that works in people's minds. But in any case, those developers started to get flooded with one star reviews in the in the app store, saying, How dare you take away my right to choose? It's like, well, I'm never you know, you're this, that and what have you, not particularly pleasant either. Yeah, and it's like, I bought this app and it's not truly open source and you can't tell me how to use it. Because if we go back to Storman's first one, first guiding principle was that it has to be, anyone can use the app for whatever they choose. And so by taking that away, you're taking away that choice. Therefore you're not FOSS, you're not living up to what Storman wanted you to do, therefore, it's a problem. And it's interesting because what it means is that, okay, so FOSS will say it needs to be available for anyone to modify. Well, that's exactly what Gab did. Now, if I'm producing software and open sourcing it as a client, if I choose to then exclude a specific instance in the code, someone else can just fork my code and they can go and take that out if they want to. - Right. - So Shrug, what's the problem? I don't get it. - Yeah, this gets a little bit complicated. And as far as I know, the apps, most of the apps we've talked about, or at least the ones I'm familiar with, which would be Toot, Mast, I believe TootDon as well, and also Mastanaut, I don't think they're pitching themselves at all as open source apps. I think they're following, I guess we can call it the traditional app publishing method, It's been just over 10 years now of being... They're paid for apps from a singular creator or company and they decide what their app can do. And we can either take it or leave it. We can try and get a refund. It's in that sort of capitalist system with the way those things work. But I think the core thing you're talking about here, I think we are in a unique situation because I've never seen this before. So like, I've been trying to think of an analogy and the closest one I can think of is Reddit. Because Reddit has previously been the place for some of the worst communities on the internet. I mean, as I remember it, I'm pretty sure people who got kicked off of Reddit spawned 4chan, and people who got kicked off of 4chan spawned 8chan. and we're talking about some of the worst of the worst content and hate and terrible stuff out there. I don't remember a case like this where like a private app said, "You know what? I'm blocking certain parts of a community because these go against my morals, my beliefs," or a code of conduct or whatever that I want to follow as a developer, let's say. Personally, I kind of of like that they did that because the whole concept of these things being platforms, you know, Activity Pub is a platform upon which Pleroma and Masson and PixelFed are built. You know, these are platforms upon platforms and we have a choice on where we want to go. And I think that can work both for and against us. But in this situation, I think it largely works for me and the people who I hope hold my same morals of not wanting that hate around and not wanting to support it. And so those developers made that choice. And the people who are not happy with that choice can find another solution. - Exactly right. - Whether it's open source or private or not, we've got options. - Yeah, exactly. And it's all about options. And so ultimately there's nothing stopping those people, for example, from using a web interface and not using the app if they really, really wanna follow someone who has chosen to go onto the Gab version of the Fediverse, for example. But in the end, just a minor point to circle back on is that Mast was actually open sourced a bit over a year, about a year ago. I think it was late last year. Oh, really? So, yeah, it was. Yeah. And you can actually look at it on GitHub. Oh, I did not know that. But the other ones, you're absolutely right. The other ones are not open source. Ultimately, just to wrap this up a bit is your experience on the Fediverse, I think is just going to vary differently depending upon what instance you join. and obviously the same rule as anywhere else, who you choose to engage with. And having that choice, I think, is what makes it so great. Absolutely. I completely agree. This is a lot of uncharted territory in many ways. I mean, social media itself is still pretty young, but I love the fact that at the end of the day, we, the community, get to explore these questions and these problems and set our goals and work towards solving them rather than, you know, some capitalist board of directors who don't have our best intentions at heart. Absolutely. All righty. Well, if you'd want to talk more about this, you can reach me on the Fetaverse at [email protected]. You can find Pragmatic at, or you can follow @engineered_net on Twitter. Yes, it's still there. Tisci, see show-specific announcements. If you're enjoying Pragmatic and you want to support the show, you can via Patreon at, or one word, with a thank you to all of our Patrons and a special thank you to our Silver Producers Carsten Hansen, John Whitlow, Joseph Antonio and Kevin Koch and an extra special thank you to our Gold Producer known only as R. Patron rewards include a named thank you on the website, a named thank you at the end of episodes, access to raw detailed show notes as well as ad-free, higher quality releases of every episode so if you'd like to contribute something, anything at all, there's lots of great rewards and beyond that it's all really really appreciated. Of course there's other ways you can help as well by leaving a rating or a review on iTunes, favoriting the episode in your podcast player app, or sharing the episode or the show with your friends or via social, Fediverse or not, it's all good. All of these things will help other people to find the show and can make a huge difference too. So, if people would like to get in touch with you, Dave, what's the best way for them to go about that? Dave So, I can be found at Chartier, C-H-A-R-T-I-E-R, at I also still am on Twitter because for various aspects of work it is still useful. So I'm just @shartier there. Or my website, And my blog is Excellent. And I've been following Finertech for years. Some good stuff. Make sure you check it out. So just really thank you so much for making the time to come on the show and talking through this stuff. It's been a blast and I really appreciate your time. Thank you so much. Thanks a lot. I'm so glad more people are talking about this. the better. Exactly, couldn't agree more. Thanks everybody.
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Episode Gold Producer: 'r'.
Episode Silver Producers: Carsten Hansen, John Whitlow, Joseph Antonio and Kevin Koch.
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David Chartier

David Chartier

David Chartier is a content strategist for indie app devs and a freelance writer. He games, photographs, and explores Chicago at

John Chidgey

John Chidgey

John is an Electrical, Instrumentation and Control Systems Engineer, software developer, podcaster, vocal actor and runs TechDistortion and the Engineered Network. John is a Chartered Professional Engineer in both Electrical Engineering and Information, Telecommunications and Electronics Engineering (ITEE) and a semi-regular conference speaker.

John has produced and appeared on many podcasts including Pragmatic and Causality and is available for hire for Vocal Acting or advertising. He has experience and interest in HMI Design, Alarm Management, Cyber-security and Root Cause Analysis.

Described as the David Attenborough of disasters, and a Dreamy Narrator with Great Pipes by the Podfather Adam Curry.

You can find him on the Fediverse and on Twitter.