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Is ActivityPub Paving The Way to Web 3.0?

This is a short talk by Marie Axelsson (aka Malocki) that you can access at Archive.org: https://archive.org/details/apconf-talks/Talk2_Maloki_compressed.mov. Malocki is a former project manager at Mastodon. Since then, among other things, she is part of a group that has forked the Mastodon code to create FLORENCE (Fediverse Loves Open Responsible Ethical Networks for Communicating with Everyone). I’m not going to dive into that right now other than to point out open code allows that any time you are dissatisfied with an existing platform, you can use it to build something new. Whether it thrives or not is up to the users, ultimately.

The short answer is that ActivityPub is leading to Web 3.0, but why does she say that? To start with, she looks at where Web 2.0 went wrong. The Internet was developing into a commercial entity, but most people were not interested in paying for it, so advertising was the solution, and that in turn brought us to surveillance capitalism. This in turn provoked the development of ad blockers. Users were being turned into the product to be sold. This is not what most of us want. But that leaves open some very important questions about how you fund this “open federated web”. Should there be mechanism to facilitate giving funds to admins and developers? And if so, how should it be structured?

ActivityPub is non-commercial. People do run servers, and some one is paying for it, but not everyone is paying because it is about community and not profit. One advantage of the ActivityPub way is that there is not just one solution. ActivityPub is a protocol that can work with any number of potential solutions and allow them to interact with each other. So you can see what your friends are doing on another platform without having to join that platform yourself. But that leads to a different problem, which is how do you find your friends? We don’t, as yet, have the tools that can accomplish this.

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