One of the core ideas that draws me to services like Mastodon is “the fediverse.” In short, the goal is that you can have a single digital identity and use it across multiple sites and services. It doesn’t always work that way right now, there’s still a lot to build. But what’s there is still interesting and fun, and has a ton of potential.
Comment on a PeerTube video with your Mastodon account. Follow someone’s photos on PixelFed with your Pleroma account. The mechanism that enables all this interaction is ActivityPub, a W3C standard protocol that enables us to publish content with one tool and read at least a basic version of that content with any other compatible tool.
A good analog is blogs, RSS, and newsreaders. There are a ton of ways to publish posts to a website. If that site makes its posts (or at least part of them) available in a standard RSS format, there are a ton of apps and services that can read those posts. The Fediverse turned this idea up to 11, and I’m fascinated by it.
Free software advocate Robert Martinez made a simple graphic (below) of how Fediverse services interact with each other, thanks to ActivityPub. Maybe this can help people wrap their head around what’s going on and start getting their feet wet.