Twitter Makes A Bet On Protocols Over Platforms

from the well-this-is-nice dept

It looks like Twitter is making a bet on protocols over platforms for its future.

Nearly five years ago, I first wrote about the idea of why protocols are a better approach than platforms for various internet platforms struggling with content moderation issues. In that first post discussing it, I talked about two companies that I thought might benefit most from such an approach: Twitter and Reddit. Over the intervening years, I’ve been thinking, talking, and writing on this subject quite a bit, including the big paper I released with the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, Protocols, Not Platforms: A Technological Approach to Free Speech. That details a variety of different ideas regarding how we might move to a world dominated by protocols, rather than just centralized, proprietary, siloed platforms.

In the paper I talk about whether or not it makes sense for a larger company to adopt a protocol approach and to move away from a platform-based world. I’ve been talking this over with a variety of folks in and out of the tech world for years, and kept getting told that there was no way any company would voluntarily move in such a direction. And, after watching Facebook’s weird approach with Libra (which is already looking like a flop), it only seemed to confirm that many of these companies are simply too entrenched in the platform model.

And yet… just a little while ago, Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey has announced that Twitter is going to start experimenting with protocols as a different approach to how the company might architect its business (and, yes, he cites my paper in his announcement). This is not, by any means, them jumping off the high dive into the world of protocols, but more a toe in the water. Basically, Twitter is going to seed fund an outside team, called BlueSky, that will be charged with creating an open and decentralized protocol standard for social media which Twitter might eventually use for its own system.

There are a lot of challenges here — and many reasons why this project could fail. There are a bunch of existing teams trying to build their own protocol approaches for this as well. But, I think it is notable that Twitter, specifically (the same company I first wrote about regarding this approach five years ago) has decided to take a serious look at moving in this direction. I appreciate that Twitter is not shying away from the challenges and potential pitfalls to this approach, but going in with eyes wide open, suggesting that this is an experiment worth exploring.

If you’re worried about the dominance of certain social media platforms, or if you’re concerned about privacy online, or if you’re uncomfortable with leaving the decisions for how content moderation works in the hands of a few internet company bosses — this is big news and something you should be paying attention to. It won’t change the way the web works overnight. Indeed, it might never have that big of an impact. But it certainly has the potential to be one of the most significant directional shifts for the mainstream internet in decades. Keep watching.

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Companies: bluesky, twitter

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Comments on “Twitter Makes A Bet On Protocols Over Platforms”

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68 Comments
Koby (profile) says:

Once upon a time

I remember back when there were a whole bunch of instant messenger programs, ICQ, AOL-IM, and many more. Then someone came up with the brilliant idea to unify them by creating a client that would connect to each one, and distribute messages to anyone on any service. Clearly, Twitter’s idea CAN be done, because it was already done.

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James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: Once upon a time

Your example differs from the current discussion in a number of ways.

AIM, ICQ, Yahoo IM Google IM, ect, in so much as they are protocols, represent a series of incompatible protocols. The all in one clients did a lot of back end lifting, and most if not all could only operate one protocol at a time. So If you were talking to someone on AIM, you used the AIM Protocol with your aol/aim account (Which you could not make from the all in one app), and you couldn’t loop in a Google account on the AIM conversation. If you didn’t have a Yahoo account, you couldn’t send Yahoo IM messages.

Moreover, they all relied on the central silo to work. So when Yahoo IM shutdown, The all in one app couldn’t maintain functionality.

What you describe, an all in one app that can push posts to multiple social media feeds and condolidate siloed social media content, exists at least in part. It does not serve the end goal of the discussion of protocols.

The goal here is to create a protocol that does not rely on central silos. Think Bittorrent. The Torrent protocol does not rely on the Bittorrent software, or a central database hosted by Bittorrent. Any person (theoreticaly) can build a tracker, or build a new client, or share content with the network and there is no central gatekeeper or repository.

The protocol being discussed would facilitate non-centralized content (Tweets, photos, memes, gifs, video, polls, ect) distribution which could then be displayed by any compatible client or app, with each app providing its own formatting, filtering, curation and moderation. This is radically different than a consolidation approach.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Once upon a time

The actual "brilliant idea" for instant messaging was the Jabber protocol (a.k.a. XMPP). But the incumbent networks mostly didn’t support it, or in the case of Google, gave half-assed support and then discontinued it.

bluetemplar (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Once upon a time

More like Embrace-Extended-Extinguished :
https://salibra.com/p/the-death-of-jabber-8ea395e82f5b

A couple of years ago I gave my contacts the ultimatum that if they wanted to communicate with me, they would have to use open protocols :

no more Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Skype, WhatsApp, (& Discord, though I made an exception recently) ;

but instead XMPP, Jitsi Meet, IRC, e-mail, (also SMS & phone calls, Matrix / Mattermost soon).

It has worked out so far…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Once upon a time

A great and excellent example using torrent as a protocol outside the platform. I’ve been using it to help people understand for years.

Unfortunately, I have also hit the same roadblocks many others have seen simply because either companies can’t let go of their "proprietary" platform code or, more often than not, people just do not understand the difference between protocol and platform.

When I mention "torrent", instantly the word "piracy" is up in conversation, and once this happens, it becomes far too difficult to explain how it works. People are focused on how it’s used, and I believe this will be a problem which cannot be corrected until the gatekeepers are removed from the discussions.

While we’re working hard to break down these barriers, assholes like Creative Future are pushing the fear mongering to levels we’ve seen before: right before additional copyright reform was turned into law.

The internet is the greatest technology of our era and every day, it’s being ruined by greed and ignorance by corporate interest.

Anonymous Coward says:

As I see it, distributed protocols exist, but there are two related problems holding up widespread adoption. The first is discovery, especially of interesting people to follow. The second is user management of their relationships in a distributed system. That is, it easy to both search a centralised system, and for that system to make recommendations. A distributed system ends up relying on the search engines for most searches. Maintenance of relationships becomes involved when links to servers are required in setting up relationships.

A related problem, which affects finances, a distributed system is not advertiser friendly either for targeting or distributing adds. Companies can run their own instances to allow customers to communicate with them, but that is not a means of gaining new customers.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

The first is discovery, especially of interesting people to follow.

That makes the Twitter announcement appealing: If Twitter switches to an open-source protocol that other sites/programs can use, people already on Twitter can stay on Twitter and still connect with people outside of Twitter through the new protocol.

A related problem, which affects finances[: A] distributed system is not advertiser friendly either for targeting or distributing [ads].

I…I don’t see how that’s a problem. We don’t need, and shouldn’t want, advertising algorithms running our social media feeds. Twitter could easily offer paid accounts that offer more features than free accounts (e.g., higher character limits, the ability to post longer videos, an actual Edit Tweet function). So could any other social interaction network. Any business model reliant on advertising money to work right will live and die not at the hands the people who use the service, but at the hands of advertisers.

Koby (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I forsee advertisers needing to target the message, instead of the recipient. Similar to how a football game on TV may be a good venue for advertising pickup trucks, but perhaps not womens’ fashion products, advertisers will need to make similar judgements about those who broadcast messages on the internet, instead of attempting to track users and spy on their purchasing habits. Meanwhile, users might gain additional privacy, which would be viewed as a valuable feature, instead of a detriment.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Studies have shown that targeted advertising doesn’t really work any better than traditional advertising (which is what you describe above). Targeted advertising is also super expensive; There’s a major premium attached to purchasing targets. And yet advertisers still use targeted advertising.

While we’d all appreciate not being tracked, all you’re really proposing is an end to targeted advertising and a return to traditional advertising. This is never going to happen as long as the platforms selling this advertising continue making all of their money from that.

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James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

But a lack of centralization doesn’t prevent targeted advertising. It rather allows each client to determine what means it will use to fund development. This could, if sold right, retain value in targeted ads. Those users who remain on Targeted ad platforms are therefore open to tracking and targeted ads, compared to those who choose clients with Contextual advertising or donation or sale or membership funding methods. If targeted ads are not valuable without having all the users on one platform, that may be an issue. But Twitter is already expressing with this move that the liabilities of the scale of the centralized silo are so significant they are willing to sell fewer ads by potentially having a smaller user base. So if Targeted ads will inevitably lose value when the user base shrinks, Twitter has likely already made the calculation that reducing overhead by reducing legal liability and infrastructure costs will off set the advertising loss. And then the market can determine where the true value of ads lies.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

A highly distributed system can involve tens of thousands of servers, each owned by a different person of company. That makes placing adverts that much more expensive because of the number of people to be negotiated with, along with supporting the number of Internet connections needed to serve adverts to all those servers. There is also the administrative costs of distributing the payments.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

A highly distributed system can involve tens of thousands of servers, each owned by a different person of company.

It can, but why would we expect this to turn out much differently than email? That has several very large advertising-supported services used by the public; companies who run their own infrastructure or buy it as a service; and a very small number of individuals running servers themselves.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

As I see it, distributed protocols exist

Two examples being OStatus and pump.io. When asking people to "develop [a] standard", it would be beneficial to say what the requirements are and why existing standards can’t be used (or extended).

Maintenance of relationships becomes involved when links to servers are required in setting up relationships. A related problem, which affects finances, a distributed system is not advertiser friendly either for targeting or distributing [ads].

All of this works reasonably well with email.

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deutrino (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I’m kind of surprised to see OStatus & pump.io get a nod before ActivityPub, given that OStatus is essentially dead and ActivityPub is an actual successor to pump.io… and powers the Fediverse, the biggest decentralized social network that I’m aware of in terms of active users. Mastodon is the best-known of the (many) Fediverse platforms.

The Fediverse today has about ~4000 nodes and somewhere between 500K to 3M active users, in pretty much every country. It’s big enough that some ends of the social graph are pretty well disconnected – ask users on nodes that primarily use Asian languages how often they rub shoulders with users on nodes using some version of the Latin alphabet, for example.

In other words, there’s already a functioning, scaled example of decentralized microblogging right now, but the people who built it have the concerns of advertisers dead last on their priority list, so that might be why it hasn’t got more press. Marketing droids & old media can’t figure out how to make money from it, and that’s emphatically a feature – not a bug.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Marketing droids & old media can’t figure out how to make money from it, and that’s emphatically a feature – not a bug.

And the Fediverse in general looks down upon ads and badly behaving bot accounts. (Hell, some instances have certain “ad”/“promoted post” symbols as custom emoji so people can mock the idea of promoted posts in general.) The decentralized nature of the Fediverse keeps a lot of celebrities/“influencers” away, too.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I’m kind of surprised to see OStatus & pump.io get a nod before ActivityPub

I just don’t pay very much attention to "micro"blogging, and the Wikipedia page doesn’t give much indication of which protocol is the latest and greatest. So, ActivityPub uses Activity Streams 2.0, a recent (2017) W3C recommendation.

I have to wonder whether Twitter know there’s already a protocol they could be using, and are pretending otherwise so they can look like supporters of open standards. Or maybe it was a poorly worded announcement and the group will just be looking to implement and extend existing standards as needed.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I have to wonder whether Twitter know there’s already a protocol they could be using, and are pretending otherwise so they can look like supporters of open standards. Or maybe it was a poorly worded announcement and the group will just be looking to implement and extend existing standards as needed.

Did you read the announcement? Jack made it clear he’s aware of others working in this space already, and this new project is going to be tasked with exploring existing options before determining if any of them might work for what they’re hoping to accomplish. If so, the idea is to help boost existing efforts. If not, then they’ll explore possible new solutions.

So, not sure where you get the idea that they’re unaware of existing projects or that the announcement was poorly worded. The announcement directly addressed that there are existing efforts ongoing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Did you read the announcement?

Well, I thought I did. I didn’t realize it was a sequence of Twitter messages and you hadn’t quoted the whole thing. Usually you do the "if you can’t read that" thing and include the message.

The Twitter link only offers to forward me to "legacy Twitter", which doesn’t work (error 403) and never has. If I ignore that link and disable stylesheets, the thread is visible after 10 pages of junk. IMHO, even in the best case, a sequence of short messages is not good for usability.

The relevant message is #8: "For social media, we’d like this team to either find an existing decentralized standard they can help move forward, or failing that, create one from scratch. That’s the only direction we at Twitter, Inc. will provide."

He goes on to say that there are "MANY challenges", but I see no hint of what those might be. Anyway, great news!

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: Re:

A related problem, which affects finances, a distributed system is not advertiser friendly either for targeting or distributing adds [sic]

You percieve Twitter or some other entity as retaining some sort of advertising backbone to the protocol. Advertising could remain with the client, who can implement their own advertising and tracking policies. This could also provide spaces for new advertisers to break into social media ads, serving to at least temporarily open up the market.

And as I noted deeper in this thread, Twitter has likely made the calculation that reduced costs in moderation, legal liability, and infrastructure, issues which exploded as twitter grew, would offset losses in ad revenue going forward.

Anonymous Coward says:

A distributed platform is still a platform from the public’s, and more importantly lawmakers’, perspective. Even if Twitter does this they will still, for all intents and purposes, appear to be a unified, centralized platform. It won’t matter that individuals can now decide whether certain material appears in their feed. That the material is available at all is the core problem most lawmakers have with these platforms today.

Forcing the use of a special client to enable the use of a protocol between an end-user and the platform (and it’s still a platform even if much of the work is distributed) would push some control into the hands of users but it doesn’t change the desire of misguided congresspeople to prevent access to any material they find objectionable at the root. Just look to the porn industry for an obvious example. Porn is already filtered off of these platforms yet it is still readily available to any who want it.

This really seems to me to be a solution in search of a problem. A potentially good one, no doubt, but not one that will do anything to address the government-origin issues facing these platforms today, however misguided and unconstitutional they may be.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

A distributed platform is still a platform from the public’s, and more importantly lawmakers’, perspective.

There is a significant difference from the legal perspective, and that is there is no single owner or central authority, but rather thousands, or tens of thousands of servers owned by different people and interconnected in a complex web.

bluetemplar (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"Distributed platform" is a contradiction in terms. Would judges go after the "e-mail platform" (Google because Gmail?) because some of its users have been sharing child porn or terrorist plots?

But I kind of see your point, perception often doesn’t care about reality – and I’m reminded how Matrix seems to have a difficulty to fully decentralize, most of its nodes still being linked to the "official" node first? (Or whatever it’s called.)

Anonymous Coward says:

This is what USENET was built on. USENET was great for advertising for those who needed to build an audience, but once that audience was built those who had already monetized USENET wanted it destroyed as competition, so they’d flood it with noise, SPAM (including for their own censored alternatives that were "noise free), etc.

The tradeoff on USENET was always true free speech in exchange for noise, SPAM, trolls, and hate speech. Obviously the public didn’t value free speech, and wound up gravitating to those who censor. Publishing has been democratized, yet everyone still buys the authors who have "book deals." We want our gatekeepers no matter what we might say.

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James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Publishing has been democratized, yet everyone still buys the authors who have "book deals."

Yes and no. A "Book Deal" comes with significantly more than pure publishing services. Why customers buy more books from the major publishing houses has to do with other factors. A major publisher provides marketing and can get your book into stores across the country and print a sufficient stock to keep your book on shelves to keep word of mouth going. They also can provide an advance and provide assistance in booking signing events.

One of the smaller publishers can still get you into much of the country and help you get signing events, even if they can’t provide advances or the large marketing push.

Self publishing provides a lot of financial benefits if the book catches on. But as Techdirt highlights, independent creatives need to build a fanbase, connect with those fans, and convert that connection into a reason to buy. And an independent will often have issues percieving the polish of their work. It is why self published works are seen as lower quality in Books and Video Games – these authors/developers have over-estimated the quality of their work – a state of affairs which can happen even to the experienced and/or talented regardless of the quality of the concept. For every "Celeste", there are a hundred "The Slaughtering Grounds" and a dozen mediocre games we never remember.

Its not that I want Random house to serve as a gatekeeper, but that Random House will have some level of competence guaranteed, if by reputation if nothing else.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

A major publisher provides marketing and can get your book into stores across the country and print a sufficient stock to keep your book on shelves to keep word of mouth going.

None of which should matter on a decentralized internet where anyone can publish their own e-books, which they were doing for years until Kindle decided it was cool rather than "self-publishing." Internet marketing used to be SPAM until Google and social media put up their toll booths.

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James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Marketing is most definitely a factor in the visability of any ebook regardless of publisher or sales platform. I’ve gotten a few independently published ebooks in the last few years, and I never would have gone to get them if it weren’t for a recommendation or ad putting that book in my sights.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Marketing is most definitely a factor in the visability of any ebook regardless of publisher or sales platform. I’ve gotten a few independently published ebooks in the last few years, and I never would have gone to get them if it weren’t for a recommendation or ad putting that book in my sights.

In that case the book becomes a vehicle for marketing income. Once upon a time, a book was marketed automatically by a system that has not been replaced. "Best of" lists are no longer accurate because the best work from 2016 might not even become a hit until 2021, or 2051. Different world now.

The other problem is that there are just too many books. It becomes more profitable to use the books for publicity, or to market a more expensive service (like a therapist writing a self-help book to gain clients). It’s also more profitable to write perishable articles that are not worth pirating due to the short shelf-life.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Be wary of reporting biases. The publishers keep careful count of every book sold, while keeping count of anything published under creative commons is not possible, because anybody can make copies available. Also, free books may individually have small audiences, and therefore not be noticed, but there are lot of them available, and 5 downloads here and ten over there… soon outnumber publisher sales.

Anonymous Coward says:

*Self publishing provides a lot of financial benefits if the book catches on. But as Techdirt highlights, independent creatives need to build a fanbase, connect with those fans, and convert that connection into a reason to buy. And an independent will often have issues percieving the polish of their work. It is why self published works are seen as lower quality in Books and Video Games – these authors/developers have over-estimated the quality of their work – a state of affairs which can happen even to the experienced and/or talented regardless of the quality of the concept. For every "Celeste", there are a hundred "The Slaughtering Grounds" and a dozen mediocre games we never remember.

Its not that I want Random house to serve as a gatekeeper, but that Random House will have some level of competence guaranteed, if by reputation if nothing else.*

Which defeats the entire purpose of a decentralized internet, and shows that the big corporations’ control over the market is more about distribution than copyright maximalism. Even worse is that the public’s insistence on perpetuating this bias leads to independent works being ignored until plagiarized by the big houses. The indies stop feeding the beast, and quality disintegrates because people buy based on "reputation" rather than attempt to think for themselves. Even in a world without copyright this wouldn’t change much. The same people would wind up with the money.

bluetemplar (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’m not sure that one can call games like Celeste – that would be wiped out if they were kicked off Steam for some reason – as "independent" (Actually Celeste might survive on consoles – but what if it had never been allowed on Steam in the first place ?). Platforms like Steam are basically the new publishers.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Platforms like Steam are basically the new publishers.

All of whom would not exist without a public ruled by argument ad populum. A meritocracy relies on those with hiring/spending/voting power making rational decisions. In that world, people would think for themselves and reviews would be accurate. Somehow I don’t think we’re there yet but maybe one day we will be. In a world ruled by sociopaths who won’t admit failure or relinquish power for the greater good, it will not be an easy Point B to reach.

Samuel Abram (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

This is why I support GOG and itch whenever possible, and only buy or redeem on Steam when there is no other choice. The tactics of Epic Games with their exclusivity agreements and how it actually led to GOG scaling back their price-matching program led me to support GOG more because I realized that GOG and itch would be hurt the most from Epic’s practices, whereas Valve would be fine. And since I see a value in DRM-free gaming, I should vote with my wallet, and, as I said before, only use steam if I have to (and for my back catalog of when I used it exclusively).

Anonymous Coward says:

The NEED for censorship among many is very strong, and USENET proved it multiple times, when breakout groups would migrate to websites, or existing groups with websites would silence discussions on their sites that couldn’t be censored on USENET, so they had to resort to brute-force attempts (usually noise and SPAM) to achieve their goal.

I don’t see how this would change with a new generation of "protocols."

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

so they had to resort to brute-force attempts (usually noise and SPAM) to achieve their goal.

Why do some people assume that they have a right to get their message across, despite people telling them they do not want to hear their message? That is not an exercise of freedom of speech, but rather forcing ones message onto others by any means up to and including violence.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Maybe, but as you noted the people you are trying to force to read your message migrate to somewhere where they can shut you out. USENET worked well at first because it inhabitants were techies, and then the Internet allowed everybody in, and most people went to somewhere where they was way less noise, spam and proselyting idiots.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

the problem with censoring "trolls" or "idiots" is everyone abuses the power to enforce those labels. USENET lets people decide for themselves, while a "moderated" forum has censorship biases that make a truly open discussion impossible.

This is why I don’t see protocols changing anything. USENET was an NNTP protocol that the public didn’t want.

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michael says:

I don't buy it

If Twitter had any interest at all in what they claim here, they’d start by having a decent API, like they did years ago and killed off. Some of us remember when Tweetdeck was the best thing on earth, social media-wise.

Twitter killed that off, too.

This article claims that this is a big deal. But it’s really just a baby step in anticipation of the government forcing openness at some point in the future.

There’s nothing at all to see here.

Anonymous Coward says:

What I want to know, as this project progresses and potentially comes to fruition, is this: How much work would be shoved to the end users to do? Because all I can see with a decentralized bunch of protocols is having to spend a not-insignificant amount of time sifting through different clients, filter lists, and what-not, then further curating my feed by going through other clients and filter lists to look for people that I want to follow and link everything up. And then it turns out the thing I was using goes to shit because the people who made it decided to stop maintaining and moderating it because it was too time-consuming and costly, and I have to do the same thing over again…

How does "Protocols not Platforms" make using social media better for the average end-user and not more akin to a part-time job? Cause I’m not seeing it.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

How much work would be shoved to the end users to do? Because all I can see with a decentralized bunch of protocols is having to spend a not-insignificant amount of time sifting through different clients, filter lists, and what-not, then further curating my feed by going through other clients and filter lists to look for people that I want to follow and link everything up. And then it turns out the thing I was using goes to shit because the people who made it decided to stop maintaining and moderating it because it was too time-consuming and costly, and I have to do the same thing over again…

Sounds like an opportunity for someone to create a nice, easy, user-friendly plug and play implementation that doesn’t require all that.

After all, that’s basically what Gmail was for email.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

When encryption and backdoors come up, you rightfully lambast the people who think that people can just "Nerd harder" to make it work.

When it comes to solving the issues around getting your average person onboard with the wide world of protocols, making it actually convenient and not a burden of time, and ensuring that decentralization has the same (or better) profit incentives compared to what we have now, the essay that you wrote just comes up with the excuse that some people someday will just nerd hard enough to come up with a solution.

The last 10 years of “Move Fast & Break Things” has led me to believe that end-users are going to mostly be left to their own devices to figure out what to do. If any “nice, easy, user-friendly plug-in” that solves all the problems that protocols create gets made, it’s going to be a commodified Silicon Valley VC-funded service that sucks up your data and winds up behaving just like the big platforms that we ostensibly want to switch to using protocols to get away from.

Andrew M (profile) says:

RSS on Knight Foundation site

One protocol that is has been suborned by private platforms is RSS. It is extremely useful for building an acceptable personalized reading list & (I see now) has great support here at TechDirt.

But I read this article at the Knight Foundation’s site. I thought it was great & read a bunch of other articles the site & was interested in seeing new articles, so I subscribed in my news reader: "Error: no RSS feed". That’s odd, I though I saw the RSS icon in the footer. Yes it is there, but there’s no auto-discovery on the page. So I’ll just use the RSS link in the footer. Empty! https://knightcolumbia.org/rss

Sigh. This is why open protocols have a hard time.

Arjun Moorthy (profile) says:

A live content recommendation system that's transparent

Jack Dorsey references the testimony of Stephen Wolfram, founder of Wolfram Alpha, given to the US Senate where he outlined a solution for the problem of algorithmic transparency.

My startup, The Factual, coincidentally implemented something similar to what Wolfram has in mind with technology that automatically rates the credibility of news in a transparent manner. Details here: https://blog.thefactual.com/delivering-on-stephen-wolframs-vision-for-addressing-algorithmic-transparency.

This isn’t an open-source protocol so not exactly what Jack and Mark Masnick but our solution is live and used by thousands every day via our daily newsletter that curates the most credible news on the most widely reported news topics. May help advance the thinking on this topic.

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