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Using ActivityPub to federate communities

As I wrote 18 months ago, Drupal is not the future of Community Forge, and I outlined a vague roadmap, but now things are much clearer.

A new standard protocol called ActivityPub allows communities using independent web sites to federate around content management. Content is published to the network, and the content can be edited, tagged, answered, by members of other communities. One social network Mastodon was built using ActivityPub and it is growing impressively. To us, starting with the ActivityPub protocol offers two major advantages:

  1. Our different groups and different networks which are actually doing the same things, if they agree to use the same protocol, they can share lots of software, both on the server side, and components that make up the client (user interface).
  2. Local groups, especially adjacent ones can see and interact with groups around them, or globally.

I co-authored this document inviting other social networks considering their future to consider ActivityPub.

Different social networks can collaborate to build this ecosystem whether they want to federate or not.

All groups need a similar 'home group' which authenticates to all the services them as members of a local group. Then different networks of communities will need very similar web services most of which are just storing content. Each service could publish re-usable code (The app development platform React supports this very well) which could be used to assemble each community's or network's app. Starting with the basic components, each network can tweak the user interface of their own app that they publish, modifying the skin, language & user experience.

Groups can host their own services and federate with the rest of the network using ActivityPub, or they can use shared services, or a combination of the two.

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