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Social Web Community Group Teleconference

20 Dec 2017

See also: IRC log


eprodrom, cwebber, melody, rowan, BanjoFox, cwebber2
eprodrom, cwebber2


scribenick: eprodrom

<eprodrom> Did we start?

cwebber2: since there are a lot of new people, we'll do introductions

cwebber2: I am co-chair

cwebber2: aaronpk is co-chair but sick

cwebber2: I am also co-editor of ActivityPub

BanjoFox: Independent infosec researcher

BanjoFox: started aardwolf

BanjoFox: aardwolf = federated Facebook

BanjoFox: Rust, ActivityPub

scribenick: cwebber2

<eprodrom> cwebber2, you can just scribe that as "hi I'm Evan"

eprodrom: I'm Evan Prodromou, I'm original developer of StatusNet,, one of the original authors of OStatus, one of the co-editors of ActivityStreams, and am co-author of ActivityPub. I've also been co-chair of the Social Web Working Group, which was kind of the predecessor to this group and the specs we're working on here

scribenick: eprodrom

melody: Main interest is in anti-harassment and anti-abuse

melody: here because I'm evaluating whether to use AP and whether it will meet needs

melody, that is FASCINATING

rowan: working on AP implementation, Smilodon server

<eprodrom> q+

eprodrom: rowan, I'd love to know what you're going to rename the sever to

rowan: pylodon

eprodrom: is it possible you can post an image of a pylodon so I can see what it is?

rowan: I don't think it's a thing, it's just a pun on python and pylodon

eprodrom: aw mannnnnn, I loved that theme... maybe a super giant...

rowan: a giant python with super big teeth?

eprodrom: a furred python

BanjoFox: hit me up on Mastodon or IRC I will take care of this

BanjoFox: if you haven't seen me on Mastodon I've been doing "Mastodon Classical Paintings" so I could probably pull this off

<eprodrom> <-- my fave

SocialWG update

cwebber2: AP is up for REC, needs votes

cwebber2: WebSub will also go to REC
... Notes: PTD, JF2, IndieAuth, Social Web Protocols

eprodrom: we also published four notes, I think they were primarily on the IndieWeb spec; Post Type Discovery, JF2, IndieAuth, and finally Social Web Protocols, which is a "how to live in a world where we don't have one standard protocol"

<cwebber2> ack eprodrom

eprodrom: we're re-emerging into a more ad-hoc process, this is much more about getting things done rather than protocol meetings... so this is the fun part I think

Evan's exciting new ActivityPub projects

<cwebber2> scribenick: cwebber2

eprodrom: yes! I've got a set of slides I'd like to share


eprodrom: this is the first time I've talked about hte hashtag server process, so I've found it fairly interesting

<BanjoFox> Back at my desk for a few minutes :D

eprodrom: the ActivityPub network, if you think about it abstractly it's a web of people and groups and programs that are connected through a social graph that create and consume streams of activities
... that's the short and sweet version of what ActivityPub does
... hashtags, which are a pretty common model used on social networks, are a light categorization tool that allow us to track conversations outside our social graph. You can follow a person's post, but hashtags are useful as a general namespace, and it's very author-driven hashtag process
... the way most federated systems I've seen use hashtags is to have a local hashtag object
... for example the slide that shows the object with the hashtag that's on its same server
... this is how 90% of them work on the federated social web... the advantages are it's easy and it's distributed. the problem is that it's very fragmented... the serendipity of global conversations doesn't happen because conversations are focused around server rather than social network
... it also results in search functionality through also the hash tab

  • tag

eprodrom: the more we had public stream hashtags, it caused more centralization on those server
... you get network effects that result in supernodes
... so if we move to a global hashtag server, instead of a hashtag that's on a local server you have a remote server, and in general people use the same servers
... then you also don't need to provide all this functionality on a single server, and you get global search
... so those conversations are no longer fragmented, they're in one place
... the con is centralization
... and any time you have a lot of activities going through a single point, there's also privacy issues
... today in 2017/2018 any hashtag in the server... there's a temptation as it grows
... are interesting because they're first class AP objects... they have inboxes and etc and any time they receive an activity meeting certain criteria they'll reshare that activity
... any time they receive it they may reshare it, so if you're interested in #metoo or #blacklivesmatter or #rust, you can follow that hashtag, so you can get updates on a hashtag even if you don't follow that person directly because the hashtag shares that directly. so only thing devs have to do is also address the hashtag object. So when you have to: Public, you'd also ad to:
... that'll distribute in a way that makes sense
... if you look at what a object looks like, it has inbox/outbox/following/followers, has a public key for http signatures, and it has a liked collection even though it's an empty object
... so it looks like a person object
... seems to work nicely, seems to work, but does it cause a centralization issue? how can we mitigate the centralization? the main way we do that is by having a back plane of redistributing tag objects. So the trick here is that the server is an AS2 object like any object. it also has inbox/outbox/followers/following, and just as any hashtag can reshare any object, the server itself can reshare public content
... so it looks like a firehose pushing out anything publicly addressed sent to the server
... that lets us set up a network of interrelated hashtag servers that can share all content that comes to them
... so I think this is like an NNTP (?) server that can share, and other servers can reshare ones that are tagged, even if on another server
... it's an ok scalable system, can maybe scale to dozens/hundreds/maybe thousands of servers
... there's some issues with id comparison failing


eprodrom: but if we get to the point where it's not scaling that's fine(?)
... so if developers aren't using this model, we're not getting in the local hashtag data... we can look for ways to get that too
... I think this is a healthy pattern for the AP network so I have a couple of other slidedecks I'm going to be doing along the same lines
... is for location objects, and I'm looking at puttting Musicbrainz vocbualry with a or etc, don't have a good domain yet but similar pattern of having objects and having them rebroadcastable and also public


eprodrom: if you're interested in this project, I have links to or to gitlab codebase
... any questions? I kind of burned right through this

<BanjoFox> I don't have any questions ;)

<eprodrom> Thanks!

<eprodrom> cwebber2: Any interesting design challenges while going through this?

eprodrom: there were a couple of things that were difficult.. getting this design down in a way that made sense was interesting, once I realized that any object on the AP network can be a first class citizen, it makes a lot of other patterns really interesting... being able to do this pattern between servers is really cool, and it works right out of ActivityPub. that's been a tricky part


eprodrom: also I did the implementation in node.js, and testing any of this stuff is really complicated... I actually spent quite a lot of time working on a mock server that implements activitypub in order to be able to test server to server and client to server functionality
... so that's the other part of it... we're at an early time with AS2 and AP, and a lot of the infrastructure we need isn't quite there yet. So a lot of the implementors in 2018 I think that'll be a lot of it... is there an AS2 library in Go? is there an AP server/framework in Ruby? A lot of us will be building those things up in 2018 and that'll make building easier in 2019

BanjoFox: how do we connect contributors?

cwebber2: I think rowan, you're doing in Python and collaborating with other users right?
... and I think that's part of the SocialCG's space

rowan: yes, Mastodon is doing Ruby, I'm collaborating on some with Python, sometimes it's hard to find others, and IRC has been useful enough... and I was fortunate enough to know Shel and met cwebber that way

BanjoFox: question for me is, is there a current list of people more or less that have raised their hand and said "hey ActivityPub is really cool, I'm doing an implementation in XYZ language"

rowan: gotcha... there's the implementation reports page

<eprodrom> cwebber2: languages are listed at the bottom

<eprodrom> cwebber2: it's not a complete answer, since people aren't ready to do IRs if they don't have everything ready

eprodrom: I was going to suggest maybe have something on that's a "here's your links to libraries in different languages"... that would be a quick way to get people started, and that page could also link to "here are the languages we don't have an impleemntation of... if you want to do a PHP based system would be huge, or a drupal system or a wordpress system... those would be a big help, and flagging them out would be

a "bounty for glory" type thing

<eprodrom> BanjoFox: I'm primarily interested in how we build things out with Rust

BanjoFox: I got it... my specific interest is in the Aardworlf project and I'd have to ask them where we are at this point... at this point I've written a couple small projects in Rust, so to your point I saw the implementation report and say "that's great... we're working on it?"

<eprodrom> Unfortunately I need to leave...

<eprodrom> Thanks all!

BanjoFox: I'm not sure what the implementation report is supposed to be, but I'm kind of a head hunter for the people who are there

eprodrom: thank you for coming!

<eprodrom> I'll be here in 2 weeks. This is where the fun is.


BanjoFox: how do I find folks who may be interested in coming then

<eprodrom> cwebber2: if I were to write up a Getting Started page, how would I get it added to ?

cwebber2: I can start putting together that page on

melody: is there a distinction between applications and libraries?
... if you wanted to do a Ruby implementation of AP, Mastodon isn't a great start because it has so many other things, so maybe we should have a distinction between libraries vs full "tool" applications

rowan: sounds like an important distinction to me, and is why I started on my project

BanjoFox: we're defining a library as the core code to add to the application

melody: I'm looking at what useful distinctions might be for organizing this

cwebber2: I'm working on porting my stuff to Racket, and also rowan you and I should collaborate on ActiviPy
... regarding errata, the SocialCG will be taking that on but I think we need people more familiar with the W3C process in order to make progress on that in the meeting
... and on that note, good meeting everyone, see you next time!

trackbot, end meeting

Summary of Action Items

Summary of Resolutions