Niall’s virtual diary archives – Wednesday 21st November 2018

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Wednesday 21st November 2018: 9.11pm. Link shared:

Second last day of this 12 month contract, so Friday I am going home!. No more nasty low paid high cost onsite work for me, hopefully. I've started to think about the stuff I need to go do now I'll have free time, first thing obviously to get Outcome into Boost, which means lots of writing docs yay so looking forward to that not. I also need to come up with a replacement for Google Plus, as it is going away, so I need some new mechanism where I can post shit from my phone or web browser at likely nobody nowadays.

Fairly obviously, it'll need to be something ActivityPub based, which is the international standard protocol for posting and consuming status updates. And whilst the software implementing the push side of that protocol e.g. phone apps looks pretty great, what I don't have is some way to publish it e.g. on So I'll need to go write some software to implement that.

Or will I? Looking at, the federated social network gained legs after Google Plus said it was shutting down. Growth took a large jump after the announcement, and has been trickling upwards since. Federated social networks are basically a volunteer resourced social network, so people contribute servers and the federated social graph distributes itself across them, very similar to Fidonet back in the day. Diaspora (Facebook clone), PeerTube (Youtube clone) and Mastodon (Twitter clone) are the three grand daddies of federated networks.

They all seem a bit tired though, if they were going to go exponential, they would have by now. Friendica, which looks a lot like a Google Plus clone, looks more lively, plus it auto plugs itself into proprietary social networks too such as Twitter and so on so from it you can publish to lots of places at once. SocialHome uses caching via relay servers so if the node your home account is on drops out (all this is enthusiast run, after all), people can still get access to your content.

Finally, the most exciting looking federated solution to replace Google Plus looks to be HubZilla, a detailed review of which you can read at The ability to relocate your profile from any home server to any other looks to be a killer feature, because if one home goes down, you can simply relocate yourself to another. That eliminates most of the problem with the federated social network, with the only other problem being that only techies and geeks will ever have any interest in these sorts of social network.

Still, thanks to ActivityPub joining everything together, that means whatever I end up choosing is available to every other choice. People can subscribe to me from any solution. The data all federates. It's effectively Fidonet all over again for the 2020s, which is no bad thing.

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