I will add one more thing to this, to make it maybe a bit more clear: the question is who has agency over what.
In Fediverse, communities large and small can set up their instances and have full agency over moderation decisions, registrations, blocking, defederation. They can build and maintain their garden while allowing people in and out as they choose.
In BlueSky, that kind of agency is gone. The storage/hosting layer is irrelevant — the idea is that you can move your account and content anywhere else with exactly same access to everything else retained, so that’s not where moderation decisions can happen.
The “search and discoverability” layer, on the other hand, is where “providers” reign supreme. And they are incentivised to slurp as much data as possible to “offer a better service”, and are not as closely connected to specific communities or people. The power dynamics are completely different.
This de-coupling of storage/hosting and search/discoverability is billed as a great advantage, but it’s not an advantage for the users — it’s an advantage for the providers.
In fedi there is no single entity that can have full visibility into the whole network. In BlueSky, that kind of visibility for “search and discoverability” providers is the basic assumption the protocol is built on.
And let’s not even start delving into the question of consent here… 🙄
@rysiek first of all I don’t see any problems in Twitter technically. It worked well for long time and only now with Musk as CEO we see that not only architecture matters but people supporting it also.
Check out Mudge’s whistleblowing report:
I read the whole 200+ pages, here are some excerpts that I found the most damning:
Regarding BS: just take a look at how centralized fediverse is in reality. Eugene just happened to be always talking about mastodon instead of fediverse, everyone is trying to register on mastodon.social when they herd of it first time. I mean they whole fediverse for people right now is only what a man with a German company did.
And yet when somebody forks Mastodon (like GlitchSoc or Hometown), they are not beholden to Eugene. Moving between instances works. Moving between forks works. Yes, Mastodon has an outsized presence in fedi, but it has nowhere near as much control as Google Search has over website traffic, or as the biggest BS’s “search and discoverability layer” provider will have over BlueSky’s users.
Fedi is simply a different architecture on a very basic level, built in a way that is not as supportive of economies of scale and “winner-takes-all” model, as BlueSky is.
Would I want fedi to be more diverse in instance software offerings? Totally. Is it fair to compare this to secondary centralization that BlueSky will support by design? Absolutely not.
Once again it’s not technicality but also people who support it matters. We can take at-protocol and do many integrations by our own to create own high level crystallization. Or we can give up on current AP and move on to the next one some time. The more ideas you give to the world the more it gives back.
Differences in protocol design define what will happen in a network run on it. Differences in design between BlueSky’s protocol and ActivityPub mean that secondary centralization will be way, way easier in BlueSky than it is on fedi — to a point that it seems this is by design.
If they are to make their own evil corp then you and I are allowed not to be it’s customers.
How’s that working for us all regarding Google Search? We’re not even paying Google for search and yet we cannot escape it. I use DuckDuckGo daily, and yet I still am sometimes forced to use Google Search. Websites that want any real traffic need to optimize for Google Search.
“Voting with your feet” is a naïve myth unless the underlying system actually empowers people to do it effectively. Fedi does. BlueSky very definitely does not in the layer that matters.
Decentralization is about community and people
Totally. No wonder, then, that BlueSky’s design carves out a space for secondary centralization exactly where communities and people can be found: search and discoverability.
I’m sure they did not b0rk their implementation and it will not turn out that for some weird reason BlueSky can only work with some very specific DIDs. That would be unheard of, even though it would be clearly in their best financial interest. 🤣
On a more serious note, BlueSky seems to me to be designed in a way that allows its creators to claim decentralization while at the same time have similar secondary centralization characteristics as, say, cryptocurrencies. The separation into “layers” means it doesn’t matter which node you happen to use for storage of your data, the important, user-locking-in stuff happens in a higher layer.
The higher layers provide search and discoverability. It just so happens that in case of these, scale matters. The bigger the provider, the “better” the service. Look at Google Search. Web is open and decentralized, but search got all-but monopolized because of economies of scale and because of the intrinsic way being Big in search is an advantage.
BlueSky is trying to replicate that, it seems to me. “Here, have your decentralized and irrelevant storage layer and be merry, and we’ll just build the biggest search/discoverability provider and own the game anyway”.
Look how different this is from the Fediverse. Fediverse is not layered. It is decentralized from instance to instance, and it seems that scale is not that much of a benefit — or might even be a hinderance. This promotes loads of smaller instances, with no single entity controlling any important facet of the network.
This is completely different from how BlueSky is designed. Again, to me, BlueSky’s (BS, I like that acronym) design is made specifically so that scale is a benefit and the winner takes all — in the search and discoverability layer.
It’s a trojan horse, from people who brought you Twitter.
Bluesky is based on the principle of allowing users to build a shared and open social media platform.
Bollocks. They are using a centralized “DID Placeholder” thingamajig, claiming they want to “replace it later”:
We introduced DID Placeholder because we weren’t totally satisfied with any of the existing DID methods. We wanted a strongly consistent, highly available, recoverable, and cryptographically secure method with cheap and fast propagation of updates.
We cheekily titled the method “Placeholder”, because we don’t want it to stick around. We’re actively hoping to replace it with something less centralized. We expect a method to emerge that fits the bill within the next few years, likely a permissioned DID consortium.
I am personally convinced of the latter and agree with Alejandro Pisanty saying that “the future is to be determined by the agendas of commercial interests and governments, to our chagrin”. The biggest problem imho is that this topic is almost exclusively discussed within professional circles. The wider public is completely unaware what lies ahead.
What we urgently needed is a broad discussion across the entire society, and this requires to communicate the relevant topics in a language the wider “non-tech” public can understand.
Yup. Doing my part in Polish:
Experts agree that powerful corporate and government authorities will expand the role of AI in people’s daily lives in useful ways.
No. No they do not agree on that!
The compulsion to show ‘balance’ by always referring to AI’s alleged potential for good should be dropped by acknowledging that the social benefits are still speculative while the harms have been empirically demonstrated.
(from one of the links above)
Enough with the “experts agree AI is great” bullcrap already!
Semi-related, this fantastic talk (mainly about racism) makes a great point on how systems we participate in (often not being able to not participate in them!) can make certain characteristics of our psyche more pronounced than they would otherwise be.
tl;dr when playing Monopoly, it’s very easy to be greedy, as that’s what the system of the game promotes.
Same with capitalism.
Having a van that picks up a few people on an as-needed basis and drops them off at a transit stop makes a lot of sense.
What I am saying is this right there should be a part of a public transit system.
Small vans and self-driving cars that help people from sprawled suburbs reach their subway or local rail lines, or a bigger avenue where big buses go, make all the sense as part of such a public transit system. As long as these cars/vans are community-managed like the rest of the public transit system, it makes perfect sense to me.
So it’s not about self-driving cars/vans vs. public transit, just as it’s not about buses vs. public transit or trains vs. public transit. The reason I reacted like I did is because your post makes it seem as if it is a “self-driving cars/vans vs. public transit”, is all. 🙂
If a cafe wants to enforce a “no phones” rule, they can do so relatively effectively. If a website wants to enforce a “no robots” rule (especially if they also want to not require any login to view the content on the site) they can ultimately only pretend to be able to do that effectively.
But you’re again conflating the issue of consent and enforcement. There are things we are able to do but we know to ask first before we do them. The fact that something is possible doesn’t mean that it’s allowed. The fact that something is not easy to enforce against does not make it okay to do it anyway.
What about public parks? Is it okay to walk around you while you’re having a conversation and record you, and then post that conversation on-line? Is it okay to use directional microphones to record you in such a setting? Doesn’t the whole recording-in-the-park thing from the Conversation give you the creeps?
Are you saying that the fact that something is difficult to enforce against makes it okay to do, even if the person you do this to does not want it done?
You technically can, and if you get caught the cafe can (and should, imo) kick you out for doing so.
Right, so we agree here. But you did not respond to the second question: are cafés public or private spaces?
I’m a big proponent of enforcing privacy in online and offline spaces with technology, policy, and social norms. I’m also opposed to magical thinking. Telling people that they can semi-publish, to have some of the benefits of publishing without some of the consequences, is misleading to the point of being dishonest.
Nobody is saying that. Nowhere in the thread I linked is that being said. Nowhere in my comments did I say that. It’s not about telling people they can or cannot “semi-publish”, it’s about telling people creating systems and products that they need to ask these people for permission to do certain things.
Or in other words: it’s not about telling café patrons they can or can’t have perfectly private conversations in the café, it’s about telling anyone who might want to potentially record conversations in that café “you have to ask and receive permission for this first”. That’s a pretty crucial difference.
Sure, I think we basically agree.
There are things that are impossible without JS, and there are things that are possible without it but JS is still the better choice for implementing them — as long as it’s not the bloated mess, pulling random libraries from a dozen third party services, that we know and “love” from a lot of websites. And as long as there is graceful degradation built-in.
Violating the distinction between content and representation in the form of a few hidden radioboxes or checkboxes to be able to make a JS-less menu strikes me as a reasonable trade-off in a lot of cases.
Pretty advanced UIs things can be done using just CSS. For example, this little tidbit of mine. It’s not mobile-optimized, but that’s beside the point — the point is a complex interface done without a line of JS. Making it mobile-optimized is possible too, of course.
I don’t think you’re arguing in good faith. In fact, reading your comment again, I am pretty sure you are arguing in bad faith. And I have better things to do than engaging with that.
If anyone wants to engage in an honest conversation, those who follow me on fedi or have seen my comments around here know I’m totally game for that. But “and yet you engage in society! curious!”-level discussion is not worth anyone’s time, frankly. 🙂
I am one of those technology educators, and today I would still warn people that “Internet does not forget”, and that they need to be careful what they put out there.
That doesn’t mean we should not demand explanation from people who make it so, and that we should not demand them to ask for consent and respect our refusal to give it. I really appreciate how fedi culturally puts this front-and-center. I hope it continues to do so, and that this way of thinking spreads farther!
I agree that consent should not be a controversial topic. Regardless of how much it inconveniences techbros trying to “disrupt” yet another area of human endeavor.
I think search engines indexing plain old websites (blogs etc) are an importantly different case.
The nature of the medium in blogs/news websites/etc is way more public and way less intimate (in general…) than social media. Social media blur the line between private and public conversations, for better or worse.
Social media is like having a conversation in a public cafe; websites/blogs is more like publishing a newspaper or standing on the corner of a street shouting your message at strangers.
Making a public archive of newspapers or recording a person shouting at strangers is one thing. Recording semi-private conversations in a cafe is a whole different thing. Does that make sense?
It has its place, but if it can be avoided, I believe it should. Basically, if something can be implemented using just HTML/CSS, it’s probably better to do it that way.
Fun fact, I have a large JS-based project, because what the project aims to do is impossible without JS. But the website itself is almost completely JS-free, apart from the demos (which necessarily need to use the JS-based project itself).
It loads immediately (just flat HTML/CSS/image/font files), it does not slow down user experience in the browser, it also signals very clearly there are not weird third-party JS scripts slurping the data for whatever godawful reason.
Or exposure to harassment, including offline. Or context collapse. Or…
In the end, adding search would change the space dramatically, especially any privacy-related expectations. And there are about 2mln people who are using fedi with current set of expectations. There are hundreds of thousands who had been using it with this set of expectations for years. Waltzing in and bulldozing these expectations is just not a good idea.
So yeah, don’t do search on fedi unless you do some deep research about consent.
I don’t have to defend my right to decide how stuff I put out there can be used. Whoever wants to scrape my toots has to explain why they want to do so, and get my consent first.
And “well it’s publicly available so it’s fair game” is not enough of an argument. Just as “she was wearing a short skirt” is not consent to sexual advances.
Yeah, I know. Still, we can make it clear what we think about that. 😉