Last Week in Fediverse – ep 58


The fediverse has long had the struggle that the wider network consists of a huge variety of product types, but that in most people’s conceptualisation it mainly consists of microblogging. The news this week is another indication of the need for a broader understanding of what the fediverse is, with the announcement of an Open Science Network, as well more and more tighter integration of forum software into the fediverse with both NodeBB and Discourse.

Open Science Network announced

The Open Science Network is a new fediverse project, based on the to-be-released Bonfire project. Bonfire is a modular platform for the fediverse, for more information on that I wrote about it recently, as did WeDistribute. Bonfire aims to be modular and customisable and allow for a variety of extensions to be build on top of it. The Open Science Network project takes the Bonfire platform, and is working on adding a variety of features for building an open science network. The Open Science Network will have the ability to sign in with ORCID, automatically import publications, the ability to work collaboratively on papers, and more. Bonfire and the Open Science Network have not given an estimation for when the project launches.

Forum Federation

Forum software NodeBB now connects to the fediverse! In the February update, developer Julian Lam shows that the forum for NodeBB itself is now connected to the fediverse. You can see the post made on NodeBB on Mastodon for example. The project is still under development, but major functionality is now available, with both accounts and public posts now bi-directionally federating. This means you can follow NodeBB accounts from the rest of the fediverse, and posts by NodeBB accounts you follow show up in your fediverse. Comments you make with your other fediverse account also show up in the comment section of the NodeBB posts. The announcement posts shows some examples, with some replies being made by Mastodon accounts that show up in the NodeBB forum topic.

Meanwhile, Discourse has also made progress with their ActivityPub plugin, so that Discourse forums now also are able to follow fediverse accounts. It is unclear at this point how federation between these forums will interact. One thing is clear though, with the development of ActivityPub integrations for NodeBB, Discourse coming online, as well as platforms like PiedFed and Sublinks, is that innovation and change in the fediverse is not happening in the space of microblogging, but of forums instead.

In other news

Newsmast has released a new update, allowing anyone to log into their platform with their current Mastodon account. This way, you can experience their curated community feeds on their platform, without having to make a new account at all. The ability to log in with your Mastodon account sidesteps one of the issues that the fediverse currently has, namely the need for a new account for every new project. For more information on Newsmast, TechCrunch published an extensive article on the project, which is worth checking out.

Funkwhale is working towards a version 2.0, and in their latest update they talk about how to ‘make Funkwhale a truly interoperable and social platform for audio enthusiasts and content creators everywhere’. Funkwhale is still early in the process, and shows how much unsolved the concept of federation is. People have some understanding of what federation means in the context of microblogging, but federation of platforms that serve other functions that microblogging is still an under-explored space.

Benjamin Bellamy, who is behind the Castopod project, joined the Podcasting 2.0 podcast, to talk about Castopod and ActivityPub. In the episode, Bellamy says that currently somewhere between 300 and 500 people have installed their own version of Castopod, up from a couple dozen a year ago.

Content Nation is a platform in development that has been working on adding ActivityPub integration that experienced significant backlash this week. WeDistribute has an article explaining the situation.

The Links

  • Threativore is an automoderator bot for the threadiverse by @db0.
  • A blog exploring the bridging between the fediverse and the ATmosphere from the perspective of GDPR.
  • Mona, a Mastodon client for iOS and MacOS has a major update, v6, and MacStories has an extensive review of the update.
  • A study on ‘User Migration across Multiple Social Media Platforms’.
  • The W3C Social Web Incubator Community Group is restarting a schedule of monthly group calls.
  • Mastodon updated their Android app, allowing you to share your profile via a QR code.
  • The Decentered Podcast’s latest episode is an interview with @jaz from IFTAS.
  • For Dutch-speaking people: PublicSpaces is organising a workshop to help guide public organisations in The Netherlands to make a transition towards Mastodon.
  • A blog by Codeberg reflecting on the recent spam wave in the fediverse.
  • Regular meetups for the FediDevs group are restarting, with the first one being March 7th, with a show-and-tell of FediTest.
  • Friendica has a script to make Friendica user nicknames function as Bluesky user handles.

That’s all for this week. If you want more, you can subscribe to my fediverse account or to the mailing list below: