I dread the day that silicon valley 'discovers' the fediverse and it starts getting popular in a Big way.
the day that happens is the day that VC money starts pouring into startups that will try to 'develop' (ie systematically colonize, commercialize, and exploit) the fediverse, which is, as of today, one of the few non-capitalist (as in non-commercialized) spaces left on the internet.
how do we prevent this from happening? how do we make it impossible for this to happen in the first place?
@oct2pus @gc Relatedly, there's a Rust microkernel project called Redox: https://www.redox-os.org/ - That looks amazing, but he decided to license it "permissively" because that's the culture of Rustaceans. So, he thinks it'll be all about freedom, but really it'll be embedded and locked down into a new form of OS-level oppression. :(
@SoniEx2 @gc The GPL does not accidentally enforce freedom, it's designed to. This reads a little bit like "I'd love to use this but then I'd have to make it free also" which is exactly the point of the GPL, and why it's relevant to preventing finance-backed enclosures and destruction of the commons we all value.
@SoniEx2 @gc So, are you suggesting that you, as the user and designer, will be the only person to use the software? The AGPL does not apply to personal use like this. It does apply as soon as you give or make available the software to others. As soon as you do that, without giving them access to the source code, you make them depend on you to use, modify, improve, or inspect their software/device. And that's not freedom, so the AGPL is there to enforce freedom.
@gc Ze Frank used to host a thing he called The Show. He'd start every episode with a bizarre intro to scare away those looking to jump on the bandwagon. About 90 seconds in the intro would abruptly stop and Ze would ask "Are the new viewers gone yet?" Those that persisted were rewarded with a fabulous experience.
Perhaps there can be some collective, baked in deterrent like cold winters in Minnesota keeping out the "riff raff" as my former girlfriend's grandma used to say.
@gc don't think you do - just when it happens other "fediverse" equivalents will appear, or continue to run in the background/alongside, as they always have.
those who are aware of them will continue.
and one day if we are lucky, people will simply ignore attempts at commercialisation and they will die of starvation
The Multifed? The capability to have a fediverse isolated from the general fediverse solves that problem. Strong protections on a user and instance level mean we can block compromised users and instances from invading a particular fediverse in the Multifed.
(I now dedicate myself to making "Multifed" a real word people use)
federation helps- a "toxic" instance can be isolated.
we need to evolve as humans for it to be impossible to happen. i don't think it's a matter of either legislation or technology (besides, both are owned by captialists/authoritarians)- it's a matter of prioritizing human relationships and liberation above hoarding.
don't know how to get there either: maybe one (small) step at a time.
1) Ensuring that the fediverse remains decentralised is a big part of it. Vigiliantly preventing singularities of accumulation actively discourages capital.
2) If you develop applications, make sure they're released under the AGPL 3.0 or GPL 3.0
In my case, I released a little library for IPFS recently, but made the licensing optional (AGPL3, GPL3, or MIT) because it can only be used to build decentralised things. It would make no sense to build barriers to prevent that from happening.
@gc I've prepared by preemptively instance-blocking capitalist.party
@bob @gc Other than awareness, I think encouraging a relatively low user to instance ratio is the single best longterm tactic. The bigger the diverse ecosystem of small instances is when money bags get involved, the harder it will be to control. I seem to read conflicting stuff on whether mastodon itself plays nicely with the rest of the fediverse as it is already though.
@bob @gc Agreed overall. On the bright side the Mastodon ecosystem has been doing an unusually good job (by free software standards) of making the slick & shiny things. Turns out that a lot of ordinary users want nice phone apps with push notifications and this requires development work that "pure" FS people don't want to do. Those who produced those apps have seriously helped to immunise the community against much more aggressive commercial interests.
@bob @gc Worth noting that there is already a major corporate instance - Pawoo. The trick is that it's exclusively Japanese, so most people don't pay attention to it in the English-speaking Fediverse (other than to block its media, due to certain content posted there that's considered OK in Japan, and taboo at best, illegal at worst in the west).
They've done some pretty extensive modifications to the front end, AFAIK, too.
E-mail as a federated protocol is under massive attack under the guise of anti-spam measures, after all, and I don't see anything inherent to ActivityPub or to Mastodon or Pleroma that improves the anti-spam situation relative to e-mail.
So, you have a legacy of open SMTP relays - send whatever you want, claiming to be from wherever, and it'll transmit the message. SPF is designed to fight this, by only allowing certain servers to originate SMTP mail for a domain (if the domain's SPF record doesn't match, then something illegitimate is going on, and the message should be blocked).
@charlag @bob @gc You also have some SMTP servers without authentication - if you send a message claiming to be from the domain that the SMTP server handles, they'll accept it and send it out without authentication.
These bad practices are ending, at least - servers that do these things tend to be put on blocklists, and then nobody gets any of their e-mail - but then once you get on a blocklist, it's almost impossible to get off.
@bob @levlaz @gc Pretty much. And the jump from "marginal value is enough for spam" to "marginal value is enough to underwrite loss-leading companies to enclose the commons and squeeze it for surveillance value" is pretty small. Mastodon is not designed to account for or prevent mass surveillance by outsiders, either. Not even a tiny bit, it's far more vulnerable than Twitter or Facebook.
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>Mastodon is not designed to account for or prevent mass surveillance by outsiders
This is what I wondered about during the whole #DeleteFacebook thing. Leaving Facebook for Mastodon doesn't stop someone from making an instance with no web frontend that quietly monitors and scrapes info from the fediverse. If found, sure, a particular instance can be blocked, but due to the fediverse' open nature, and the money in surveillance capitalism, what can stop them?
@jeff @levlaz @gc @bob I'm remembering when I wrote and released TinyStatus, with the claim that it was "spam resistant", the only person to join the testnet was a dude who set up a spambot just to prove that, if the spammer cares enough and doesn't need throughput, they can always spam. :) https://github.com/cathalgarvey/tinystatus
@jeff @levlaz @gc @bob Well, TBF proof-of-work is probably the only thing that would actually work at scale to make spam unprofitable. But it works by making it impractical to send arbitrarily large amounts of spam; it won't stop "spear-spamming" because the volumes are very low. However, there are other, better strategies for dealing with spear-spamming, so I think proof of work is still the best first-line strategy. And, it can also be used to limit API requests or page-loads, vs. surveillance
@bob @jeff @levlaz @gc I'd be interested to see a discussion on that! But I do think that proof of work needs to be coupled to a trust waiver system, and it should be deployed so as to allow a baseline read throughput without needing POW. e.g. you shouldn't need JS to read Mastodon; so 60 requests per hour might be free of POW, and logged in users might get 1,200 free read requests, instead. Post messages might be limited to 10 free per hour, etcetera.
@gc aggressively federate. fragment enough to make assimilation across instances harder than communication across instances. proliferate implementations and clients and governance models. ground funding in co-ops, nonprofits, academic institutions, small business, and local governments. grapple sooner rather than later with the hazards of data-mining and marketing.
in other words: learn both the positive and negative lessons of e-mail, irc, usenet the pre-megacorp web, etc.
@gc That already happened once though? I've already forgotten what the instance was called that had some weird blockchain tie-in but it didn't really disrupt the fediverse beyond lots of people talking about it. I guess I'm not too worried about corporations trying to take this from us; it seems fairly clear how to handle them in this setting.
@gc wonder if this is the actual issue - commercialization and the capital coming in?
It’s never really been about the money its self but more about who majority owns the platforms/ecosystem. Which in the past has been a small number of founders and investors.
NOW the users need to be the majority owners.
Coopertizing the Fediverse is the best possible to staving off a “colonization” while not impeding the relevancy and growth of the Fediverse as whole which is equally important.
@gc Having read lots of responses to your post, there's some great ideas in there. Two stick our for me: capital likes scale, and on the interwebs isn't concerned with profit, merely the potential for profit, so keeping the size of instances down is a great way to keep the whole thing looking less attractive. Couple this with real baked in user ownership and control as we have with #socialcoop.
Avoiding privatisation-friendly licensing of code (e.g. Apache, MIT) is also a good thing.
@snoot @gc I thought it was possible to search statuses with elasticsearch recently https://github.com/tootsuite/documentation/blob/master/Running-Mastodon/Elasticsearch-guide.md
@gc one of the things I've done is at least keep tabs on the known corporate spaces that currently exist and added them as a special category on my blocklist so we can keep an eye on them and potentially remove some of their social power by defederating from them
@gc (if it becomes necessary)
@gc People with backing have tried to do this a couple times. They've failed by overestimating the degree to which it's commercialization-friendly. Also, they've used mastodon, which is AGPL. Also, generally speaking, they've broken federation in order to prevent their users from realizing they can switch to a less-shitty instance. It could be done more competently & I'm not sure how it would be best prevented
getting pretty frustrated with all the responses that essentially boil down to 'but what if we just like, didnt let capital accumulate, man?'
...that's not how any of this works. one does not simply wish away the inexorable logic of capitalism.