Glossary of the New Web

This is not an exhaustive list – the discourse keeps evolving! Please feel free to reach out with terms and topics that you think should be included here.

Concepts and Principles

  • POSSE: Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere. This is the principle of publishing your work where you can control it, and using various types of social media to share that content more widely. (Ref.
  • IndieWeb: The IndieWeb is a community of independent & personal websites connected by simple standards, based on the principles of: owning your domain & using it as your primary identity, publishing on your own site(optionally syndicating elsewhere), and owning your data. (Ref.
  • DWeb: Decentralized or Distributed web. A principle pushing back on the centralization and siloing of users’ online presence (content, identity). Sometimes used as an umbrella term for tools and protocols that follow this philosophy(for example, federation tools), as well as the philosophy itself. (Ref. Mozilla)
  • Federation: Allowing different services, sites, or platforms to communicate with each other, while retaining individual autonomy. The protocols used to do this are frequently (but not always) open source. (Ref. Wikipedia)
  • Fediverse: A portmanteau of “federated” and “universe.” This refers to a particular subset of federation tools that are focused around social media, primarily those using the ActivityPub protocol. These tools include programs like Mastodon, as well as services such as Threads. (Ref. Wikipedia)
  • Isles of Blogging: A way to describe blogs using a physical metaphor – each blog is its own isle in a vast archipelago. You may get visitors, and you may visit others, but you’re still effectively on your own, and discovering like-minded bloggers can be hard. (Ref.
  • Republic of Newsletters: A physical metaphor for describing a mindset for newsletters – access is more controlled and less public, and you effectively bring your tribe with you, as it’s a known audience that act as its citizens. But because of that sense of privacy, it feels safer to have discourse. (Ref. Warren Ellis, though the original reference was in a newsletter that I can’t find at the moment.)
  • Dark Forest: The initial Dark Forest hypothesis is that many alien civilizations exist throughout the universe, but they are both silent and hostile, maintaining their undetectability for fear of being destroyed by another hostile and undetected civilization. This hypothesis has since been posited regarding the internet, and that the withdrawal of online discourse into more private enclaves (private Slack or Discord servers, newsletters, et cetera) is the result of the internet becoming increasingly hostile and an unsafe place to be visible. (Ref.
  • web 3.0: “web 2.0” was frequently used to refer to thinking of the web as a platform, shifting towards social media and user-created content. “web 3.0” was sometimes used as shorthand for “whatever shift the internet is going to have next” (sometimes in reference to efforts towards a semantic web), but then got co-opted and used to refer to the blockchain and cryptocurrency. (Ref.


  • ActivityPub: An open standard managed by the W3C. It allows for decentralized communications with other federated services, aimed primarily around social media needs. (Ref.
  • AT (@) Protocol: The Authenticated Transfer Protocol, managed by Bluesky, who also use the protocol for their service. It performs similar functions to ActivityPub, but with some differences in focus and approach. While not managed by a standards body like W3C, the protocol is still open source. (Ref.
  • WebSub: An open standard managed by the W3C, previously known as PubSubHubbub. It’s a method to notify subscribers of updated content, using hubs to manage that subscription. This provides a closer to real-time notification system than poll-based subscription models like RSS or Atom. (Ref.
  • RSS and Atom: “Really Simple Syndication” – standards that define a way to create a feed of content that users can subscribe to. This lets users automate the process of discovering when new content is available on websites they are interested in. It’s common for blogs to provide an RSS or Atom feed, but other types of sites can also create feeds. It’s also the underlying protocol used to create podcasts. (Ref. and


  • WordPress: One of the most popular blogging platforms in the world. It is used both for blogging and for managing content in general, such as e-commerce sites, portfolios, and other material. Also provides newsletter services. Available as a self-hosted solution, or as a service.
  • Ghost: Another blogging platform that also provides newsletter services, and a hosted service along with a self-hosted solution. (They push the hosted service pretty hard, but you can technically self-host.)
  • Mastodon: One of the more popular ActivityPub-based platforms for posting short-form social media. While other platforms do exist, Mastodon was the first of the ActivityPub-based, federated solutions to get broad attention, and so sometimes acts as shorthand for any of the compatible tools in that space.
  • Blue Sky: Another short-form social media service, based on the AT Protocol instead of ActivityPub. Blue Sky is currently the largest AT Protocol-based system, and the company also manages the protocol itself.

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