I’d started writing a screed here about how Threads’ purported support for interoperation with other services through ActivityPub (an open standard) is a red herring, and how they’ll be locking it down as soon as they hit a critical mass (which I stand by, for what it’s worth – I give it two years before things start shifting, shutting down APIs, breaking interoperability, adding features that “only work in Threads”, putting their thumb on the scales for changes to the standard, etc). But I realized I was wearing my Cynic Hat, and yucking peoples’ yum doesn’t really help. I’ve already mentioned my concerns about their privacy settings and intertwining with Instagram – if, knowing that, you still opt to sign up, that’s up to you, go have fun.
So instead, here’s a few projects that are giving me some hope:
- The Flickr Foundation and Wikimedia Commons are partnering to improve the bridge between the services. (For those out of the loop, Flickr has been quietly rebuilding itself since it was acquired by SmugMug back in 2018, and launched a non-profit – the Flickr Foundation – in 2022, to help steward the large body of public domain or creative commons licensed material that had accumulated. I have a soft spot for any project that aims at preservation and responsible sharing of creative work, and this seems like a good one.)
- Several museums have begun making available high quality scans of many important works from their archives. Notably, the Smithsonian and the National Gallery of Art are both doing this. The Creative Law Center has a page with a list of museums part of this effort! (If you haven’t checked the Creative Law Center out, it’s a fantastic resource for explaining things like copyright, trademarks, licensing, and what to do about it all as a creator.)
- Tumblr. Hear me out: after seeing it get run into the ground by corporate parent companies (for years!), seeing it get some genuine love and support from their new owners (Automattic, same folks who own WordPress) has been refreshing and appreciated. It has its own culture and customs, and while they’ve made efforts to provide some mechanisms for monetization (gotta pay that server bill somehow, right?), those efforts have very much been in keeping with the nature of the site and the people who use it. Time will tell on whether that’s enough for them to thrive, but that they’re at least trying alternatives to the current de facto default of highly targeted user-data-driven advertising gives me some hope. Obviously I’m more aligned with hosting your own shit, but if that’s not viable for some reason, going somewhere that at least isn’t going to actively sell you to the highest bidder feels like a good next-best alternative.