The future social internet

The Social Internet today is a mess. Users are tracked across the internet and manipulated for more engagement to drive advertising revenue. However, big social media sites are faltering.

There is a better future coming. Much better in fact.

ActivityPub is a protocol that allows for sharing and social connection across the internet in a connected network of different systems. People talk about Mastodon (mostly) and other “federated” social networks.  Underneath it all is ActivityPub.

Your Email uses the SMTP protocol to exchange messages. Similarly, federated social networks use ActivityPub. Your Website uses HTTP/HTTPS to deliver your website pages to people who come to your site, and federated social networks use ActivityPub to deliver what you post to your followers and also to bring to you the posts of the people you follow. These analogies break down if you look closely at the technical detail, but the important thing to know is that these standards allow all these systems to interoperate over the internet.

ActivityPub’s interoperability allows people to make different software to deliver different experiences to users and their communities. It also means that you might have your own, something that’s just you.

The big players are getting into the act. Meta’s Instagram has promised ActivityPub support in Threads, Tumblr is adding support, and WordPress has support already.

There are, and will continue to be, many different takes on social networks and the software that powers them, but they will all connect in a federated system using ActivityPub.

My prediction is that many organizations and communities, and even individuals, will run their own ActivityPub-based social network. Most people will belong to more than one – each for the different community experience they provide. Your professional association, your workplace, and your local birding club will all have their own, tailored and administered differently for each community. Having one of your own will be as simple as having your own email address.

I am exploring these new social media systems and how they are used to create community and build connections between people. Follow along here.

If you are on Mastodon, you can find me on

I’m also on, at

Developer support is key to The new visionOS platforms

A key element of the success of visionOS and the Apple Vision Pro will be how they handle Developer support over the next several months. And it’s not enough to let those developers get their hands on the hardware with some access to support from Apple. It’s critical that the Apple staff that supporting these developers be very active in their code-level and design and interaction support, with a goal to learn from the process actively, and to bring that learning back into Apple for the benefit of visionOS, the Apple Vision Pro and future products, the supporting APIs, the development tools, and the developer support process itself.

The people supporting developers as they learn how to work with visionOS and as they create new apps, games and connected products will be immersed in the developer’s work. This is not just about getting bugs fixed or clarifying the documentation or making improvements to the tools. The learning coming in from this effort should be an important part of the definition of where this thing goes next.

Design in visionOS

The WWDC23 session “Design for spatial user interfaces” gives an excellent overview of how some of the interactions work in visionOS. It’s impressive, and very Apple-like, the care that’s gone into designing these interactions and the supporting elements.

Summer of Blogging

The folks at are running a fantastic promotion, Summer of Blogging. You get their standard plan for just $1/month for four months (and after that it’s just $5/month).

It’s an easy way to get started with blogging. As the folks say:

Personal blogging is making a comeback. Post short thoughts or long essays, share photos, all on your own blog. makes it easy, and provides a friendly community where you can share and engage with others.

It’s Hip to Be Square

Dave and Gina Pell were among the very first to encourage and support our dreams for Square Peg Foundation. They were there when we were just a couple people with a few horses and a dream. Their support and the support of so many others over the years has kept this dream alive through some difficult times, and made possible all we do today.

One of my favorite daily reads is Dave’s NextDraft, but sometimes I miss a day. So I’m a bit embarrassed to say that I didn’t see the January 27th issue, where he had these kind words for Square Peg Foundation:

“Since 2004 Square Peg Foundation has been providing homes and meaningful work for ex-racehorses who, for whatever reason, would have trouble finding a home in equestrian sports. Today, with our 25 horses, we serve hundreds of autism families every year, we are the designated provider of equine services for San Mateo County Mental Health, and we provide meaningful paying jobs for eight young adults with autism. We currently have over 100 families on a waiting list for services.” Let’s do something good this weekend. Square Peg is an incredible organization that does good things for people and animals. I’ve known the founders for years and wholeheartedly vouch for them and the program. The recent California storms hit them hard. Join me in supporting their Go Fund Me.

Joell and I went looking for this after getting a very kind donation in a card from a NextDraft reader. Checking our GoFundMe, we also see a strong uptick in donations starting on the 27th.

As I write this, it’s raining again. But we have good news. After many years growing at the beautiful Kastl Rock Ranch, we have started our move to Ocean View Farms in Montara. Six horses are there already, and the other six will move in the coming weeks. There is a lot of work (and expense) in moving this size program, but once it’s all complete we will be able to even better serve our families and the animals.

IMG 4704
Ocean View Farms sign at the red brick gate, with the coastal hills and a rainbow in the background.

Take control of your online life

There are so many ways to get started, the choices available can feel like their own barrier. But these days it is easier than even just a few years ago. In the IndieWeb community, we still recommend you Get Started with your own domain and website. But I admit that’s a big lift for folks who are just beginning to think this through. Several choices to be made and so many options for each.

Tantek is providing advice, tools and words of encouragement on his 100 Days of IndieWeb series. He starts with a simple observation and words of encouragement to Own Your Own Notes. Each day, Tantek is presenting a short bit of advice about how to proceed. At this writing he’s a couple weeks in. Follow through the links at the bottom of each post to the next one in the series.

My own advice is to start with It takes minutes to get started, and you can optionally use a domain name of your own. They have a free 30-day trial, and inexpensive plans with great features. even ties in seamlessly to the fast-growing “Fediverse” of systems that communicate using ActivityPub, allowing you to follow and also be followed by someone using Mastodon, Pixelfed or any of the other compatible services.

The Timeline is often the wrong paradigm

It’s great to see folks stepping away from assumptions brought over from other social media systems. The river of posts may serve the attention merchants’ engagement goals when they can keep you endlessly scrolling, but it’s not the way we naturally think. So we have filters and other methods of tightening our focus down to the “important stuff”. Or maybe the important people.

Better yet, rethink that interface. We’re seeing a lot of that kind of creativity happening.

Ben Brown,, author of Shuttlecraft ( is experiementing with a news reader style interface that lets one browse by person/feed.

I think it’s a great idea, so I told him so:

This started a whole conversation between us, which was very fun.

The creativity and fun of the ActivityPub world (which is not just Mastodon) reminds me of the early days of Twitter when their open developer APIs created an app ecosystem that was dynamic.

Moving from Dark Sky to Apple Weather

Apple Support has posted a helpful guide to Apple Weather especially for people coming from Dark Sky:

Dark Sky’s features have been integrated into Apple Weather. Apple Weather offers hyperlocal forecasts for your current location, including next-hour precipitation, hourly forecasts for the next 10 days, high-resolution radar, and notifications.

Apple Weather is available on devices running iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and macOS 13 Ventura. If you’re new to Apple Weather, here are some tips to get started.

The background, in case you are wondering and don’t already know, is that Apple bought Dark Sky a while back, and now they have shut down that service.

Watch WWDC for Technology Futures

Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference is this morning, and so I’m annoyed by all the people who are wrong on the internet. 😉

The mainstream press, and even some of the tech press (and certainly the financial press) never seem to know what to think of the news from WWDC. The tendency is to think of it as a product announcement event, even though product announcements at WWDC happen only occasionally.

WWDC is the richest look at Apple’s long-term plans that we ever see. As much as individual new products are picked apart and analyzed, the best information about Apple’s plans and the general direction of their technologies and products comes at WWDC.

This is a show for Developers. Most Developers are chomping at the bit to find out what new features and systems will be in this year’s new software, including Apple’s major operating systems (iOS, MacOS, et. al.), and languages and tools (Swift, Xcode, SwiftUI, ARKit, et. al.). Developers want to start building!

But many of us also watch closely for directional signals on what’s coming in the future. For example, Apple’s Memoji are cute animated avatars that you can design and decorate. They are cute and fun, but many people thought them silly and even useless. But developers saw the directional signal: Apple’s deep integration commitment for Augmented Reality. Apple’s commitment to privacy has been on display year after year at WWDC. And although we couldn’t really know it for sure at the time, Apple’s Metal framework for graphics presaged the move to Apple Silicon.

Apple’s just wrapping up the transition to using its own processors, Arm-based Apple Silicon, across all products. The last major product family to get Apple Silicon, Mac Pro, will be coming out soon – possibly being announced at WWDC today.

Both SwiftUI and ARKit are high on my list for expected improvements. They have both been developing in some interesting ways the last couple years and are also both “unfinished” in ways that are both frustrating and intriguing.

The pace is sometimes frustrating. Holes in capabilities (and bugs!) can be maddening. But it’s still remarkable the progress made over a few years.

Apple Design Awards 2022

Every year, Apple celebrates brilliant app and game design with the Apple Design Awards. It’s a huge honor to be a finalist or selected as an Apple Design Award winner.

I love this event because it celebrates the best of the independent software world. Many of the recipients of the awards are small teams or even individual developers. It’s so fun to see the creativity and beauty of these apps. You can check out the finalist at Apple’s Design Awards Page. The awards ceremony will be Monday, June 6th at 5pm (Pacific) and will be streamed online at that page linked above.

Have a look at all the finalists and you’re sure to find something you love. I already knew of several but was delighted to learn about (Not Boring) Habits, and Gibbon: Beyond the Trees. And I’m so happy to see Halide Mark II in the finalists list.

Have a look for yourself and find something that tickles you!