Over at Ars Technica, Ben Klemens has an article diving into Mastodon and federation. It’s a good explainer if you’re curious about the standards underpinning the services.
The idea of an open web where actors use common standards to communicate is as old as, well, the web. “The dreams of the ’90s are alive in the Fediverse,” Lemmer-Webber told me.
In the late ’00s, there were more than enough siloed, incompatible networking and sharing systems like Boxee, Flickr, Brightkite, Last.fm, Flux, Ma.gnolia, Windows Live, Foursquare, Facebook, and many others we loved, hated, forgot about, or wish we could forget about. Various independent efforts to standardize interoperation across silos generally coalesced into the Activity Streams v1 standard.
Both the original Activity Streams standard, and the current W3C Activity Streams 2.0 standard used by Mastodon and friends, offer a grammar for expressing things a user might do, like “create a post” or “like👍 a post with a given ID” or “request to befriend a certain user.” The vocabulary one would use with this grammar is split into its own sub-standard, the Activity Vocabulary.
Surprising no one, I’m very in favor of moving back towards decentralization, open standards, and interoperability. Getting a few more high visibility projects would be a great step in the right direction.