INDIEWEB.SOCIAL is a #Mastodon-based Fediverse instance that is a home for those who build, study, promote – or are just fascinated by – a wide variety of #openweb, #indieweb, #federated and #humanetech practices and technologies.

We seek to promote innovation and shared evolution and promotion of such technologies as well as to offer this instance itself as a platform to experiment with integration and early implementations of these.

Originally registered by Jeannie McGeehan, now co-administrated by Tim Chambers

To me it’s more logical to run ActivityPub individually, either directly from your own domain, or by having a separate single-person instance (such as in my case). Yet, I can see how having a group instance like this can be useful.

I’ve added a plugin, Mastodon Autopost, to crosspost from this blog to my Mastodon instance.
This won’t bring back any reactions to this blog, unlike Twitter reactions which do get back to this blog through Webmention. For that I would need to use Bridgy Fed. However that has as a disadvantage that it would turn my blog into a separate ActivityPub account, an activitypub user in its own right.

For now I’d rather have a separate Mastodon account (on my personal instance). Not everything I post on my blog I want to post to Mastodon, and not everything I post on Mastodon I want to have in my blog (e.g. responses to or reposts of others). I can definitely see me using this blog as the one and only hub for my online communications, but for that to work, I want to be able to keep ephemeral postings outside my regular site and my rss feeds, and more importantly be able to determine intended audiences per posting. Another requirement is that I can post tweets about a blogpost without that tweet being a separate blogpost (now I use the post excerpt for that and send it to twitter)

Currently I have my Mastodon (and my first Twitter account) set to me needing to approve every follower. My audience for a message is somewhat known to me that way, and I can shape a message accordingly. We all talk differently to different people and have conversations in different settings and contexts. This is true for online conversations just as much as for offline conversations. My microblog account does post everything from my blog but I also interact there independently from my blog.

With this plugin, for each posting I can determine if it is cross posted to Mastodon. I already had a similar setting for Twitter (and Flickr, which I don’t use). See the images.

[UPDATE]
It works as intended. I set the excerpt of this posting to “If all works as intended, this blogpost should show up in my Mastodon instance #wordpress #activitypub”, and set the plugin to post title, excerpt and URL.


[/UPDATE]

The Mastodon community worries about whether the new EU copyright directive (which won’t enter into force for 2 years) will mean upload filters being necessary for the use of the ActivityPub protocol.

I can’t logically see why that would be, but only because I don’t compare Mastodon to e.g. Twitter or Facebook. Yet if you do then the worry is logical I suspect.

Mastodon is a server and a client for the ActivityPub protocol. In a fully distributed instance of Mastodon you would have only a small group of users, or just one. This is the case in my Mastodon instance, which only I use. (As yet the Mastodon universe isn’t very distributed or decentralised at all, there’s no long tail.)

The ActivityPub protocol basically provides an outbox and inbox for messages. In your outbox others can come get messages you make available to them and your server can put messages in your outbox into someone else’s inbox itself.

The Mastodon server can make what you put into your outbox publicly available to all that way. Others can put messages for you in your inbox and the Mastodon client can show publicly what you receive in your inbox.

But making anything public isn’t necessary at all. In fact I don’t need my public facing profile and message timeline on my Mastodon instance at all. They are non-essential. Without such pages there’s no way to argue that the messages I receive in my inbox are uploaded by others to a platform, and falling within scope of a potential need for an upload filter.

My Mastodon instance isn’t a platform, and the messages others send to it aren’t uploads. The existence and form of other ActivityPub clients and servers demonstrates that neatly. I currently send ActivityPub messages from my weblog as well, without them being visible on my blog, and I can receive them in my Mastodon, or any other AP client without them being visible for others, just as I can read any answers to that message on the back-end of my blog without it being visible to anyone but me and the sender(s). Essentially AP is more like one-to-one messaging with the ability to do one-to-many and many-to-many as well.

The logical end game of decentralisation is full distribution into instances with only individuals or tight knit groups. Federated where useful. The way the Mastodon client is laid out (sort of like Tweetdeck) suggests we’re dealing with a platform-like thing, but that’s all it is: just lay-out. I could give my e-mail client a similar lay-out (one column with mail threads from my most contacted peers, one with mails just to me, one with all mails sent through the same mail server, one with all mails received from other mail servers by this one.) That would however not turn my mail server plus client into a platform. It would still be e-mail.

Mastodon’s lay-out is confusing matters by trying to be like Twitter and Tweetdeck instead of being its own thing, and I posit all ‘upload filter’ worries stem from this confusion.

Discovery in networks is always a bit difficult. You can for instance traverse the follower list of the followers of your followers (ad infinitum), which I often do, or you make voluntary lists like webrings, or blogrolls (my blogroll is in the right side bar). Trunk has some interesting thematic lists with (real 😉 )people’s activity pub and Mastodon accounts on them for a wide variety of topics. From retro-gaming to sustainability, from cyberpunk to fountain pens, and from witchcraft to gardening.

In the past weeks I’ve enjoyed using a bot that turns my blog’s RSS feed into an Activity Pub stream. That stream I follow from my Mastodon account, and that way I can ‘retweet’ any of my postings in an easy way. You too can follow my blog on Mastodon through the account @ton@bots.tinysubversions.com.

The bot that turns RSS into Activity Pub was created by Darius Kazemi, a coding artist and art creating coder. In the context of musing about my ideal RSS reader, I started running my own Tiny Tiny RSS instance. Tt-rss is not only a feed reader but can also create feeds, e.g. from the things you bookmark or like while reading. So I thought if you’d mount the bot that Darius created on the back of Tt-rss, you could publish curated feeds of what you read not just as rss but as activity pub streams. I pinged Darius Kazemi to hear if the code is available.

Screenshot of me resharing a blogpost on Mastodon.

I plan to dedicate some learning time in the coming 12 weeks to better understand the protocols that drive the independent web, or IndieWeb. During our STM18 birthday unconference Frank Meeuwsen presented his experiences on the IndieWeb. Frank, Peter and I have formed an impromptu triade to explore the IndieWeb in the past months. In one of his slides Frank conveniently listed the relevant protocols. I’ll plan for 24 hours to explore 6 protocols. Some of them I already understand better than others, so I’ll start with the ones I feel less knowledgeable about.

The ones I want to explore in more detail, in planned order, are:

  • ActivityPub / OStatus, a decentralized networking protocol (as this ties into my Mastodon experiments as well, this comes first)
  • Micropub, publish on your own domain with 3rd party tools
  • Microsub, own your feed-subscriptions (although I already run my own TinyTinyRss instance)
  • Microformats, markup for data, text, people, events (already used on my blog, but curious to see how I can extend that to more types of data)
  • Indieauth, federated login protocol to sign in with your own domain on other services (already active on my blog, but interested in where else I could use it)
  • Webmentions, respond to a blogpost through your own site (already active on my site, but strongly wish to better format and style it on my site)