Use the Fediverse instead of Twitter, LinkedIn, …
first things first: SAP Community please read this blog post and decide to post on fediverse like you do on Twitter, LinkedIn, …
In this blog post I will tell you about my journey from Google, Meta, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, … and programs/services like WhatsApp, Twitter, LinkedIn, Teams, Github, … to other Companies and solutions which respect my privacy and don’t earn money with the data they collect about me.
You shouldn’t expect a finished journey nor a complete description of the used solutions. I’m still at the beginning and the way is very rocky. Most of the people I know live in the mentioned world of data octopuses. So it’s not easy to completely move over to the Fediveres and probably I will never be able to do so.
The aim of this post is to encourage you and SAP Community to use the Fediverse beside or maybe instead of the commercial oriented solutions.
So let’s start.
Many years I used Microsoft DOS, later Windows. Around 2005 I moved to Apples Mac OS. My first smartphone was an Apple iPhone. I was happy with this for many years cause I haven’t thought about the data I gave Apple and what they do with it. Cause I was always interested in Linux and I got more and more critical regarding the above mentioned companies I bought a Linux notebook 3 years ago. Even though it took a lot of time especially in the beginning to find good tools that replace the easy to use Apple programs I never really regretted the move to Linux. I’m using Ubuntu for the sake of simplicity and the good support on the internet.
Ubuntu does not track what I’m doing and that gives me a good feeling.
Cause I never liked Marc Zuckerbergs companies (I saw the film about him and how he founded Facebook) I started my Messenger career with Telegram I think. I still use it with some people but it took not long and I installed WhatsApp. Recently I installed Signal cause this currently seems to be the messenger with the best privacy respect and a good userbase.
However the best one I used and still use is the decentralized Fediverse solution element.io. You can find me at @htammen:matrix.org. I would like to use it more frequently but I only know a few people who also use this service and those mostly prefer the other above mentioned tools.
I used some social networks. I think I started with Google+ (or what they called it). In parallel I used Twitter and LinkedIn. After some time I moved to Twitter only cause it was still in the hands of its founders and a lot of SAP-centered communication takes place there. But privacy and advertisement aren’t optimal there, too.
So I had a look around and found Mastodon which is similar to Twitter and my current favourite. Reach me out at @email@example.com.
I used several e-mail providers. In the beginning there were small ones located in my region. When the providers on the internet grew I saw the benefit of such services and moved to G-Mail. Two years ago however I moved back to a smaller provider (mailbox.org) which fully respects my privacy and which servers are located in Germany (runs under german law which I think is one of the best in the world).
I probably forgot something but you can see that I use products from the Fediverse for almost all use cases.
You don’t know what Fediverse stands for? It’s Federated universe or Federated social network.
If you speak german this is a great article to start with: https://digitalcourage.de/digitale-selbstverteidigung/fediverse.
For only english speaking readers Wikipedia may be a good starting point: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fediverse
Idea of Fediverse
The idea behind the Fediverse is a decentralized social network. Decentralized means that everyone can setup a server and provide a service. Cause the different Fediverse services use a unique protocol called ActivityPub (there are some other protocols as well I think) they can interact with each other.
As written above I have an account at the Mastodon server fosstodon.org. This server has around 20.000 users. But I’m not limited to communicate to this userbase. I can see and follow content and users from all Mastodon (Fediverse) servers worldwide. I can even subcribe to users/content from non-mastodon servers, e.g. Friendica.
Another principle of the Fediverse ist, that every server defines its own rules for collaboration. Most of Most servers are free to use, some charge you a bit money to finance their costs. Most of the servers forbid to post racist or sexual discrimination. Most servers respect your privacy and no server sells your data or finances itself with advertisment (as far as I know).
If you as a user break the rules you’re account will be deleted by the owner of the server.
This is also the case at Twitter, Facebook, … you might say. Yes, but on the Fediverse there is no commercial interest of the operators.
So everyone can find a suitable server instance. Here e.g. you can find the rules of Fosstodon: https://hub.fosstodon.org/coc/. If you start with with a server and later think another server would be better for you you can simply move to it by transporting your account to the new server.
Dosn’t that sound fantastic?
One of the problems of the fediverse network, like all social networks, is that they need a huge userbase to be recognized and successful. This userbase is growing with the amount of content that is published in this network.
Let’s use the Fediverse
So SAP Community please publish all the content you publish to Twitter, LinkedIn, … also to the Fediverse. I suggest to use either a Mastodon server or e.g. Friendica, which is something similar to Facebook. For the videos you publish at YouTube you could also use PeerTube. For audio content there is Funkwhale and …
And you, SAP Community users, get an account at any of the Fediverse servers around the world and post your thoughts about SAP technology there. To find a Mastodon server that suits your needs you can use https://instances.social/.
To move slowly to the Fediverse you can use a crossposter like https://moa.party/. This service posts all content you write at Twitter also to Mastodon and vice versa.
If there is enough interest we maybe start our own SAP-centered server like we created this Slack space years ago. The space was a great success story for community driven community.
I would be willing to invest time and some money in such a project. As far as I researched running a Mastodon server starts at € 9,- / month. To support a broader userbase it will at least be € 89,- / month. Or do we find a sponsor?
Feel free to ask whatever you want to know about Fediverse. Although I’m not an expert I’ll try to answer as good as I can. Hopefully we start a discussion here and others who have more insights into Fediverse help out.
Let me know what you think about the Fediverse below or at Mastodon.
Nice post Helmut, and inspirational.
Back in 2006 I was a user of identi.ca, a federated microblogging system. I resisted joining Twitter for similar reasons to what you describe in this post, but at the end of 2006 I had decided to join Twitter as that's where all the conversation was happening, and I became a Twitter user shortly after.
I was a big user of Jabber (XMPP) and that is also a great example of federation of systems. I ran my own Jabber server, and also my own mail server, but the latter was a lot of work, esp. with the increase in spam. Despite the work, I really enjoyed the independence and autonomy (and the ability to automate email responses and triggers via tools such as fetchmail).
I do love the idea of decentralisation, but am torn; there's a lot to repair in the data infrastructure that has been damaged by the centralisation over the past decade - look at what's happened to RSS for example.
I salute you for the direction you're taking.
Thank you DJ for your response.
I also ran services like e-mail and collaboration on my own servers and stopped it because it took too much time and yes I also had and have a Jabber account. But at the time I created it there was no one I could communicate with. The people around me used in-person meetings, telephone, e-mail and sometimes post mail with that priority to communicate.
I think times have changed and today more and more people see what the big data octopuses with their AI can do and what they do.
On the other hand they see that it is possible for people like Donald Trump who has his own interpretation of democracy become president of important countries. Or they see what already happens in china.
All this lets me hope that there is a chance for federated systems now or in soon future.
I've been exploring this space also in the last couple of years, but not as consequent as you have done it. Twitter is still the place where I hang out most of the time. I have my Elements (ol1ver:matrix.org) account, but only because of curiosity. Mastodon looked so promising (@firstname.lastname@example.org) but the party is only as good as the people you hang out with.
Here are a couple of other services or protocols that are worth exploring, even though still in their infancies...
Nostr is trying to achieve true decentralisation for a social networks via cryptographic key pairs. Damus is a first promising mobile client with a decent UX, but discovery is still pretty much broken
The whole space of Decentralized Identifiers (DID) and Verifiable Credentials is quite promising, although I don't understand it enough yet. A few projects are exploring this space, maybe most noteworthy to mention is TBD.
It will be rough to make the Internet as a network for social communication and collaboration workable again without the central power guards, because true decentralisation is hard to make work. Open standards and cryptography are a beacon of hope here.
Thanks for sharing your perspective!
Thanks for sharing your experience and the interesting links. I would like to throw another link into the game: https://solidproject.org/. Solid is a project initiated by Tim Berners Lee, the founder of the internet. Solid turns around the internet. Not the big data octopuses hold your data but you do and you give services (temporary) access to it. E.g. your solid account could hold alle your publications at Twitter. You give Twitter access to this data. If you later decide that Mastodon would be the better place to Toot (that's the Mastodon synonym for Tweet) you give Mastodon the access to the data in your account and withdraw it from Twitter.
Here is my solid profile: https://htammen.solidweb.org/profile/card#me
But this goes too far for the moment.
I totally agree with you that a party is as good as the people you hang out with. Additionally a party with nice people gets even better if you have good food and drinks.
The latter can be influenced by SAP. If you post everything you currently post to Twitter also to Mastodon the Mastodon party will get very much better.
I think you are in a position to influence this. So it would be great if you can talk about it with your colleagues.
I remember the Solid announcement back in 2018, but completely forgot about it. Looks like they made some good progress, but looking at your pod, the UX needs some major improvement 😉 I found an improvement request to add DID to Solid which even has a nice comparison between WebID and DID.
Looking at the Web5 overview by TBD, both projects try to deliver a similar vision. Of course the big question is if any one of these will get any significant traction. I hope that Jack Dorsey's relentless focus on UX and ease of use will lower the burden of entry, and make it accessible to a large non technical audience.
Regarding a SAP focused Mastodon instance, why would you want to rely on a large corporate entity, in this whole context of decentralisation? Any attention and support is hard to get, but super easy to loose again with the next internal strategic shift or budget cut. These initiatives are best build bottom up. It needs fairly low effort to build it technically (I mean outside of the corporate frameworks) but relentless efforts of a small team of community builders. Finner, Craig and many others where passioned about doing this on Twitter in 2007/2008. But I don't know how many of them are active these days because I lost connection to the SAP Twitterati, after my Twitter account got hacked 2 years ago (lost all my followers).
I this we are talking at cross purposes. I don't want SAP to move completely to Mastodon. It would just be great if e.g. @sapdev, @openui5, ... could crosspost their twitter content to Mastodon as well.
That would make Mastodon more attractive for SAP users / the SAP community and then a Mastodon community could grow from bottom to top.
My hope was that someone internal could transport this idea into the different SAP departments. But maybe I reach out to the respective twitter accounts directly.