How NGI supports internet applications through projects like Mastodon

In recent weeks, there has been a lot of news about the well-known messaging service Twitter after the change of ownership and the actions taken under its new management. Some newspapers, such as Forbes, have even gone so far as to call it “the great exodus,” and major US civil rights organizations, including the NAACP and the Anti-Defamation League, have even called for a boycott.

However, Twitter is not an isolated case. The Internet and the original decentralized vision behind the Internet has suffered from large-scale industry consolidation. The Next Generation Internet Initiative is working on alternative futures for the internet to create a sustainable, reliable and sustainable internet. internet. These alternative futures have one thing in common: they are based on technology commons: open standards, free and open source software and hardware, and open data. These are the ideal ingredients for restoring the health of the Internet, as they empower individual users and society to control their own Internet services rather than elevate a single business entity to a dominant superposition.

A key component in the social space is a standard called W3C ActivityPub produced by the World Wide Web Consortium. ActivityPub allows a person to have their own presence in a place called Fediverse and actually have their own presence as a user – you can set up under your own internet domain, set your own policies and community rules, create and use your own privacy settings. same account everywhere to interact with others.

One of the most popular Fediverse projects is Mastodon. In a short period of time, Mastodon gained over 500,000 new users and recently hit over 1 million active users. The number of independent servers for Mastodon has also doubled recently. Unlike traditional social media, Mastodon is not a single website or service. To use it, you choose an account with any provider that implements the ActivityPub protocol (or run this program yourself), which allows you to interact with the entire ecosystem on your own terms.

Users can post text (500 character limit), images, links, and videos, and their so-called “Toots” are published in strict chronological order (there is no algorithm for ranking “Toots”) without ads.

Building the Next Generation Internet with Open Standards and Free, Open Source Software

The European Digital Decade for 2030 aims to empower businesses and people in a people-centred, sustainable and more prosperous digital future; decisions to support digital commons become relevant to preserve the original vision of a non-monopolistic and non-privatized Internet.

By offering citizens an alternative to mainstream commercial players, ActivityPub provides the conceptual building blocks for cross-cutting collaboration. It also opens the door to the widespread adoption of Fediverse—turning the internet back into a decentralized infrastructure that can accommodate diversity, a freer, and more democratic alternative to today’s status quo.

NGI supports many different Fediverse tools, such as Mastodon, PeerTube, Pixelfed, GoToSocial, Lemmy, and Owncast – each suited to their own use cases. Fediverse’s strength lies in its diversity: Mastodon examples are websites, but also PeerTube, PixelFed, etc. There are also servers that provide services. Fediverse may be seen by the user as “just another class of web pages”. PixelFed is more photo sharing oriented (like Instagram). Lemmy is a great alternative to Reddit. Owncast allows live streaming like Twitch. Each of these is valuable in its own right. Together, they offer a real alternative for users who want to get away from the online social networks of big corporations

Some of the more specialized efforts receiving funding from NGI programs include:
  • Castopod is an advanced open source podcast hosting solution for anyone who can connect to Fediverse.
  • Corteza is a low-code platform for building cloud-based web applications.
  • Funkwhale is a free, decentralized and open source audio streaming and sharing platform.
  • Inventory is a free book sharing web app that shares knowledge about books and helps people connect to discuss, give, share and sell them.
  • Lemmy is an open source, easily self-hostable link aggregator that you can use to share and discover exciting new ideas and discuss them with the world. You can also log in with Lemmur
  • Mobilizon is a federation tool for finding, creating and organizing events – allowing community events to benefit from greater visibility and participation.
  • Owncast is a proprietary, open source live streaming platform for people to easily host and manage their own live broadcasts.
  • PeerTube is a free, open and federated video platform. Video is a very popular content class and also accounts for a significant portion of internet traffic, PeerTube significantly expands its hosting options.
  • Pixelfed is an open source and decentralized photo sharing platform, similar to services like Instagram. You can also use the PixelDroid mobile client.
  • XWiki is a modern and extensible open source wiki system that allows you to track individual wiki pages and allows people to post comments without creating a new account.

In addition, there are many other tools and libraries that allow users of your site to interact with other users on Fediverse. Drupal and WordPress ActivityPub plugins, bridges between ActivityPub and other protocols (such as XMPP, a vendor-neutral standard for instant messaging, or the Matrix protocol).

ForgeFed is set to use ActivityPub to bundle software spoofs. There are other interesting methods and protocols for federation, such as Hubzilla and Spritely. NGI’s portfolio includes many other projects in building federated services that use standards such as XMPP, SIP, and others.

The Next Generation Internet interacts with citizens and constituencies directly through the established EU Mastodon, becoming part of Fediverse, the largest alternative to centralized platforms based on federated, open source and standardized technology.

Project contributors contributing to the development of the ActivityPub and Fediverse tools I refer to NGI Open Calls. More information about NGI solutions is available here.

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