Re-centring the Fediverse: how a footnote tells the bigger story

Re-centring the Fediverse: how a footnote tells the bigger story
People on a multi-coloured spinning fairground ride

This blog post was inspired by a conversation with Laurens Hof of Fediverse Reports. Thank you Laurens!

Microblogging in the wider Fediverse received a big boost this week with the launch of the Threads API. All credit to the Threads team for pulling it off. Another key part of the microblogging playbook ticked off by Meta, attracting app builders, brands and social media managers. Big news, but also not really. It’s all been done before. History is just repeating itself, for the third time or more.

Elsewhere in the Fediverse, if you looked closely you could find a much smaller story.

The launch by Mastodon of a new fediverse:creator tag in link preview cards, taking you to the article author’s account. Literally a footnote. But what if this footnote is really the bigger story?
Could we re-centre the Fediverse around long-form content, podcasts, forums and curation?

There are encouraging links and references clustering around that Mastodon footnote. Blogs are back (or never went away), Podcasting 2.0 is taking off, Flipboard just added a bunch of new federated publishers, the Threadiverse is working on common standards - and curated channels are making waves at Bluesky and Farcaster. 

Just as POSSE rewrote the rule book for journalists and content creators, we have the opportunity to re-centre much of the Fediverse around carefully crafted and curated content which is a million miles away from shitposting and reply guys. Placing long form content, forums and channels at the centre of the Fediverse gives microblogging a new, supportive role, a place for comments and boosts that are anchored by more in-depth content. 

Turning the Fediverse inside out. 

Take Philips P O’Brien, one of the main inspirations behind Newsmast. A US academic at the University of St Andrews, author of a big book on WWII. After Russia invaded Ukraine he was one of the earliest voices pointing out the weaknesses of the analysts, journalists and think tanks who thought Russia would win within days. His vehicle: Twitter. Fast forward two years, and after a failed attempt to move to Bluesky, his commentary revolves around a twice weekly blog on Substack, a podcast and occasional press articles. These are the anchors of his output - with posts on Twitter playing a supportive role.

Asking Philips P O’Brien to move microblogging platform is a dead end. He’s tried it once. What if we can offer something which matches the way he works and writes. An alternative to Substack with embedded Fediverse microblogging (on the way courtesy of Ghost and Buttondown) - ideally with a podcast and even a forum hooked in too. 

Sticking with Ukraine, the Kyiv Independent is showing the way here - already successfully funded through subscriptions, and with a big presence on Bluesky, they’ve just federated their Flipboard account. 

It’s fascinating to see Shoq, the ultimate microblogger, praising Flipboard’s transformation:

“they have carved out  a niche in ActivityPub (and beyond) that may have broad implications for open social and publishing.”

Where do podcasts and forums fit in? That’s part of the excitement - we don’t know. While the Threads API takes us down a well worn path, re-centring the Fediverse takes us somewhere new. See you there!