Bringing blogging to the fediverse
After much trial and error, I've finished basic ActivityPub support on Write.as! (Though it's not live yet.) I'm very, very excited about reaching this point so I can try out some new ideas.
So far, most developers in the fediverse have been remaking centralized web services with ActivityPub support. There's PeerTube for video, PixelFed for social photos, Plume or Microblog.pub for blogging, and of course Mastodon and Pleroma for microblogging — among many others. I've loved watching the ecosystem grow over the past several months, but I also think more can be done, and getting AP support in Write.as was the first step to making this happen.
At first, I too was imagining “Medium, but federated.” But for a platform like this it doesn't make much sense — and ultimately, I think we need to do more than just remake existing silos for the fediverse. Many developers have expressed the desire to see people seriously use their new products, and as I've written before, mass adoption is going to require serious user-friendliness in products that are unique and compelling enough to get people in the door. Pure clones with federation added on only intrigue a small segment of the populace — we need to think about how to make compelling products that stand alone (and oh, by the way, have this great thing called federation underlying it all).
I also mentioned in that piece that we need to scrutinize the parts of the centralized web that we carry over, such as likes. Its mere existence doesn't necessarily mean it's worth including in every following implementation, and that functionality in particular I plan to leave out (as well as others).
Today my idea is to split reading and writing across two ActivityPub-enabled products, Write.as and Read.as. The former will stay focused on writing and publishing; AP support will be almost invisible. Blogs can be followed via the web, RSS, email (soon), or ActivityPub-speaking services (for example, I can follow blogs with my Mastodon account, and then favorite or boost any posts to my followers there). Then Read.as would be the read-only counterpart; you go there when you want to stare at your screen for a while and read something interesting. It would be minimally social, avoid interrupting your life, and preserve your privacy — just like Write.as.
This is just what I'm thinking after implementing the basics — we'll see how it plays out in practice. There's still plenty to figure out, just as everyone is doing. But I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out, and incorporating the ideas I've talked about before.
Keep an eye out for more updates and a walkthrough on building your own ActivityPub-capable service here soon!