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Imagine if you could follow an Instagram user from your Twitter account and comment on their photos without leaving your account. If Twitter and Instagram were federated services that used the same protocol, that would be possible. With a Mastodon account, you can communicate with any other compatible website, even if it is not running on Mastodon. All that is necessary is that the software support the same subset of the ActivityPub protocol that allows for creating and interacting with status updates.
Mastodon is a fascinating project. At surface level, it is similar enough to Twitter for people to consider it a valid alternative: the UI and the fundamental social constructs could not be more familiar. At the same time, you don’t need to dig too deep to encounter esoteric concepts like ActivityPub and the fediverse.
A common viewpoint is that Mastodon has failed to appeal to a broader, less tech-savvy audience so far due to its federation model, but I tend to disagree: after all we are using federated messaging systems every day and we’ll likely keep doing so until the end of time.
There was a moment when email itself was an esoteric concept and it was important to know what SMTP is in order to send a message, but we have managed to abstract all that complexity away, so I am cautiously optimistic about federated social media in the long run. Arguably the biggest challenge so far is the network effect (or lack thereof), as it’s hard to move to a new platform when all you friends are somewhere else. In that respect, feel free to follow me @email@example.com. Don’t be shy!via docs.joinmastodon.org
In all of these cases, the back pressure that gives wide review any force, beyond a moral high ground, is the fact of multiple implementations. To put it another way, why would implementers listen to wide review if not for the implied threat that a particular feature will not be implemented by other engines?
So yes, I absolutely think multiple implementations are a good thing for the web. Without multiple implementations, I absolutely think that none of this positive stuff would have happened. I think we’d have a much more boring and less diverse and vibrant web platform. Proponents of a “move fast and break things” approach to the web tend to defend their approach as defending the web from the dominance of native applications. I absolutely think that situation would be worse right now if it weren’t for the pressure for wide review that multiple implementations has put on the web.
Microsoft’s release of its new, Chromium-based, Edge browser has sparked renewed concerns about the rapidly decreasing diversity of browser engines. “All browsers becoming Chrome” is problematic in many ways, but while having bigger contributors like Microsoft in the Chromium project could actually help steering the project away from its Google-centric agenda, the issues intrinsic to relying on a single implementation remain open.via torgo.com
Complexity bias is a logical fallacy that leads us to give undue credence to complex concepts.
Faced with two competing hypotheses, we are likely to choose the most complex one. That’s usually the option with the most assumptions and regressions. As a result, when we need to solve a problem, we may ignore simple solutions — thinking “that will never work” — and instead favor complex ones.
To understand complexity bias, we need first to establish the meaning of three key terms associated with it: complexity, simplicity, and chaos.
Nice piece on the risks of being seduced by unnecessary complexity, especially in the broader context of language. It reminded me of an old essay by Italo Calvino, “L’antilingua”—literally: “the anti-language”—in which he comically shows the effects of replacing simple words with increasingly grotesque jargon. To paraphrase Calvino, the anti-language is the language of people who prefer saying “utilize” instead of “use”, people who are scared of showing familiarity with the subject of their talk. According to him, speaking the anti-language is a sign of being out of touch with life, and ultimately represents the death of language itself.via fs.blog