Matt

WriteFreely

The last several months have zipped by for me. But Write.as is about to enter a new phase that I'm pretty excited about.

While our focus until now has mostly been on individual users, as a business, today Write.as is starting to look at how we can support a new set of customers: other businesses and organizations. I'm excited about this not just because of how easily our software works in that space, but because it gives us a solid plan for long-term sustainability.

The consumer-focused prices we built our business on have made our road to sustainability long and slow. Really, they tend to only work when you're building a side-project, are backed by venture capital, or don't need to pay the people working on the thing. But today we're no longer a side-project, we still refuse to take venture capital, and yes, we pay people.

The road has been long, but we're in a good place as a business. Now I want to get us to an even better one. Which brings me to this next stage.

The past several months have shown me the many ways WriteFreely, the software behind Write.as, is useful. Make something simple enough, and it will find uses in ways you never could've imagined.

After seeing all these uses, listening to feedback, and considering our four-year history, we're finally settling into a very interesting use case we'll be pursuing next: knowledge-sharing within businesses and organizations. It's called Write.as for Teams, and will run entirely on WriteFreely.

This will be a new service offered in addition to our existing hosting for individual writers. Really, it's a natural evolution from the WriteFreely.host service we launched late last year. But unlike that service, Teams has a very specific audience in mind, and will be priced for businesses. We've been using it internally at Write.as, and it's really working out nicely so far.

I'll have more to share when the service launches within the coming weeks. But I just wanted to explain what's going on behind the scenes so everyone knows why other promised features have been temporarily put on the back-burner. We haven't gone anywhere or forgotten about you — we're just preparing for this new world we're about to enter as a company.

Just as well, our progress on Teams will continue to circle back and improve Write.as for everyone. As one example, an early Teams customer has driven our decision to speed up development on the v2.0 command-line client release, which any Write.as user can use. It'll be soon followed by our first official WriteFreely client, also for the command-line.

Beyond that, the underlying WriteFreely software will continue to improve for everyone, while stubbornly sticking to its goals of ultimate simplicity. I can't wait to see the new uses it finds, and to hear what you think.

#writeas #WriteFreely #future

A recurring problem I and others see in the fediverse, with both new and veteran users, is the issue of a single identity.

I wrestled with this when I first created a Mastodon account, going straight for one on mastodon.social, as most people do. But when I wanted to start my own writing-centric instance, I had to create a new personal account on it and mention my mastodon.social account in the bio, and vice versa. I was the same person, but speaking to different audiences — one, a general audience and the other, more about writing.

Many people create multiple accounts — the point, especially on niche instances, is to get access to the local timeline and see the conversations around your instance's niche. (There are probably better ways to handle this specific problem, but I digress.)

The issue of identity really started to grow as new platforms popped up. There's PixelFed / Anfora for photos, PeerTube for videos, Plume and WriteFreely for blogging, and many more in the works. Though #ActivityPub allows you to follow and comment on all these services from a single identity, current implementations unfortunately don't accommodate the other side: the publisher hoping to utilize all these services under a single identity.

But I think I have a solution — one I mentioned in a recent conversation in the fediverse.

Essentially, we could make each ActivityPub service work both as a publishing platform and a client to other AP services. So for example, if I wanted my primary identity to be a Mastodon account, I could also create a PixelFed account like normal and hook it up to that Mastodon account. In this scenario, PixelFed would let me turn off publication of any ActivityPub endpoints (so people aren't also following my PixelFed account), and would simply interact with Mastodon's API as a client. With this kind of setup, I could use PixelFed's photo uploading / filtering features and have everything go to the profile of mine that people already follow, over on Mastodon. With this, people could combine any number of services to publish a variety of posts all to a single identity.

With the projects I'm building, WriteFreely and Read.as, you might use your WriteFreely blog as your primary identity, and then by hooking up your Read.as account, any posts you boost from there would be published to your blog.

Of course, making this work in practice will involve much more work that wouldn't otherwise be needed. For one, each platform would need to be able to store any kind of activity out there published by another platform. And some platforms will be more suited to play the “identity” role than others.

Still, I think it's an interesting idea. And I'll be experimenting with it in the future to see if it's all actually possible.

#fediverse #WriteFreely #ReadAs