Hello, Fediverse!

Let me introduce myself. I'm Badri, editor of the Snipette publication on Medium. I'm also there on Mastodon, @badrihippo@fosstodon.org. So, let me give you my background on those two subjects of interest: Medium, and the Fediverse.


I liked Medium's minimalist style, its vision for an alternative to ad-based publishing, and, most of all, the ability for people to run their own Publications, where they edit and curate the work of other authors for display on their site.

As time passed, however, I've noticed that Medium is giving less and less priority to Publications. Rather than working with different editors, each curating their own publications for their own special audiences, Medium is trying to push their own editorial agenda.

Medium has its own editors to curate posts and display them on its front page, and there's less and less visibility to independent Publications on Medium. Rather than a platform for different magazines, it's become more like a magazine itself.

I don't like that idea because firstly, everyone in the world is beholden to the same editors—that is, those working for Medium. True, there's some customisation available, in the sense that you can choose which topics you're interested in and get more post recommendations from those, but I feel Medium is increasingly becoming “just another online magazine”, albeit a slightly algorithmic one.

I don't want that. I don't want Medium's editors to decide most of what I see. I want to be able to #ChooseMyEditor. There are so many different publications on Medium—Chalkboard, Writing Cooperative, Literally Literary, and Interesting Histories are some of the ones I subscribe to—but these days the only publications I seem to find in my stream are Medium, Medium, and Medium.

Of course, as an editor, I also have an interest in other readers seeing my publication more often. Especially when they've specifically decided to “follow” me.

The Fediverse

Like everyone else, I had a Facebook account. But I don't any more.

When the Cambridge Analytica thing broke out, I saw #DeleteFacebook trending everywhere—and I actually did it.

But it's not just about Facebook. I've always been a fan of decentralised technology and federation, and the fact that people can communicate with one another even if they're not registered on the same server or service or provider.

I was there in the days when Gmail supported XMPP, as did Yahoo! Messenger, and Facebook, and just about any other chat service there was. I'm not sure if they all federated, but some of them did, and I had one app to manage all my chats, and everything was great.

But then, my Pidgin suddenly stopped signing into Facebook Messenger. They had, apparently, dropped XMPP support. Google still has it, but they don't federate, and they support hardly any XEPs which makes it practically useless. I mean, I don't even know if someone's sent me a message while I've been offline, because Google doesn't send me that “Chats while you were offline” email any more but just waits until I sign on to Hangouts—which I hear is going to soon disappear too.

To cut a long story short, I want a service that lasts, or at least that lets me switch around without losing all my contacts every time I make a move. That's why I've been trying to convince all my friends to join XMPP (with little success, but I guess patience pays).

And when I heard of Diaspora, I thought wow, here's a solution to the social media problem! The interface was a bit clunky though—no offense, but it kinda wasn't suitable for me. I created an account, forgot about it for a long time, and then came back again when the #DeleteFacebook thing was trending, only to realise I had forgotten my password.

Then I heard that—what is this? There are many other projects too, that can all speak Diaspora-ese and connect to Diaspora! Friendica is where I started off. But the federated timeline is a bit, well, busy. And I didn't have any friends on it to interact with.

That's when I heard of Mastodon.

Mastodon is very instance-focused. It's a thing I've noticed. Each instance is like its own little community, and it's one that I can join in too, at the local timeline, and get to know. I mean, all federated projects seem to have that, but Mastodon actually places emphasis on it.

So, here I am.

Medium on the Fediverse?

So how did I come to write.as?

With Medium's editorial domination on the rise, I was looking around for alternatives. And I heard about this thing called write.as, which is like Medium but it federates!

Oh wow. What more can one need?

Actually, there is more one can need. I run a publication, after all, and write.as is more designed for standalone writers. It's not like Medium. Here, one writer can create many blogs, but one blog can't have many writers.

That would be great if I was just one person sitting and writing, but I'm looking to edit. To collate, curate, and collaborate, and pick out jewels from the stream of writing, and create a group of authors who work together to create a collection that people would like to read.

Or rather, I basically want an alternative where all Snipette authors can get off and come to Medium 😛

So, I'll probably be writing here about my thoughts on how that would work, on how “Publications” can be implemented in a federated way, on how I seem to be liking write.as, and well, I don't know.

Let me start writing to find out.