I’ve been taking a closer look at the world of ActivityPub and related federated social networking standards.
The entire network reports slightly over 121 million “toots” across Mastodon’s entire history; for comparison, it’s estimated that there are 500 million tweets every day — that means a new Mastodon is created on Twitter roughly every six hours.
 Okay, it’s not strictly an ActivityPub implementation; there’s a more involved history that’s not relevant here but is worth reading.
Time flies: Micro.blog just turned one. It’s clear that Manton Reece and Jean MacDonald have been hard at work. It’s worth reading about the interesting new developments over the past year. Congrats, all!
Inside the Seattle Spheres
I’m a boostrapper by nature. I typically look for low magnitude outcomes with a high probability of success that I can tackle with a small team. Today’s software world is full of these, ripe for the picking.
Lately, however, I’ve been thinking about the other end of the spectrum.
Audacious goals are low probability but, at their grandest, have the potential to effect high-magnitude systemic change in the world. They’re also notoriously slippery beasts; it’s hard to see their shape at the outset.
To grapple with the biggest challenges, I find myself asking two simple questions:
Assuming success, what should be quantifiably true of the world tomorrow that is not true of it today? (A single razor-sharp test is ideal but can be hard to find; a small set of slightly duller tests, some high percentage of which ultimately prove true, might suffice.)
What separable pieces can be built today that will likely be accretive toward the final goal?
By taking small concrete steps while holding the desired quantifiable outcomes as our North Star, perhaps it’s possible to slowly illuminate the shape of the beast. Then, one day, when it’s least expected, we can grab it by the tail.
Outrider is a new foundation that “believes in the power of an educated, engaged public” to “solve the world’s greatest challenges”.
I only hope their hypothesis is right.
The view from Grouse Mountain
Live light room
In the past, when I’ve written about indie web projects, I’ve tried to make the point that they won’t succeed unless they offer fundamentally new and compelling features. Louis makes this same point with much more eloquence:
“Controlling your personal data is an ideology, not a feature.”
As I build my Memex and work on launching it as an app for others, I have to remind myself that products need to solve problems — simply fulfilling an aesthetic about data ownership isn’t enough.
With this in mind, I think Memexes are fertile terrain well worth exploring. Back in the late 90s the web flirted with Memex-y ideas in the form of (goofily named) Blikis, but they never took off. At the time, I found the tools hard to use and poorly integrated with the wider world. Yet, the few hard-core adopters who stuck with their Blikis have built some of the weirdest, most contextually rich personal content I’ve ever run across on the web. The value of Blikis to dedicated authors, at least, seems undeniable.
So let a thousand Memexes, Blikis, Memkis, and Blogexes bloom. I’ll be watching with interest as Louis attempts to craft both a compelling product and a razor sharp value proposition for Chronobase.
Trump is nothing if not talented at introducing fear and uncertainty into the lives of others. So here’s a short improv for dreamers deferred:
As an aside: the most interesting thread I’ve read about DACA comes from Eric Columbus, a lawyer who helped craft Obama’s original action. It seems that DACA, in its current form as an executive order, probably doesn’t pass constitutional muster.
Grain in Ashton, Idaho
Trump’s insane saber-rattling at North Korea continues to confirm how little he understands the gravity of the situation. As I said in January, my two greatest fears about Trump are his poisonous efforts to erode trust and his cavalier attitude toward nuclear weapons. You could call me clairvoyant if I hadn’t been stating the obvious. Like Chris Hayes this morning, I’m also in a 25th-amendment kind of mood.
So what exactly have I been doing with my newfound freedom as an indie developer?
My site now offers JSON Feeds for those playing with the new format. Just to recap, here are all the links:
It’s back to (true) indie development for me! I recorded a few short words about what’s next.