The “enshittification” of social media started around 2016, but it reached new highs in 2023. All chronological feeds and hashtag importance have given way to narrow-AI algorithms and recommendation engines. The result was that reach has become impossible for the common user, and many art creatives lost their livelihoods. Enter the Fediverse. From Wikipedia: “The fediverse is an ensemble of federated (i.e. interconnected) servers that are used for web publishing (i.e. social networking, microblogging, blogging, or websites) and file hosting, which, while independently hosted, can communicate with each other.“ This system has some advantages: It is almost impossible for governments to shut down in its entirety. User load can be shared among different servers (“instances”). Different instances have different rules, so you join the one you agree best with. Generally no spam and fewer bots. A non-aggressive environment as users get along better. No telemetry or ads. Everything is chronological so there are equal chances to be seen, no weird recommendation engines here. As for the disadvantages: Some instance admins are too twitchy, and can block other servers on a dime (my main gripe with the system). Some users are too sensitive for some topics, and require you to self-censor. The system probably can’t sustain more than 10-20 million active users, because not many people have the expertise to run their own instance and pay for the financial costs before donations start rolling in. If your instance goes down, you’ll have to migrate and re-acquire all your followers from scratch. Your family and friends aren’t on it, and probably never will be. Here are the Fediverse alternatives to the classic options: Alternative to Twitter: Mastodon The biggest federated environment with over 2 million active users. Great for “toots”, and small-sized blogging. Very actively developed. While there’s an official app for it and a third party one called… Shitter, and FediLab, the best way to view it remains the web browser. Alternatives to Mastodon: Pleroma, Diaspora, Misskey/Calckey (they mostly interoperate anyway). Alternative to Reddit: Lemmy Since the latest Reddit shenanigans Lemmy has jumped to become the second most used fediverse service. Still under active development, but it works great and it has all major Reddit features. People there are much nicer too! Alternative to Lemmy: Kbin (they interoperate, so Kbin content is available on Lemmy, and vice versa). Apps: Jerboa, Lemming, LiftOff, Summit, Connect. Alternative to Instagram: Pixelfed A bit slow compared to the other fedi services, but it’s unique in getting the original Instagram experience. As an artist, I love it. PixelDroid is the mobile app for it. Alternative to Youtube: PeerTube Well, there’s TilVids, and then there’s everyone else. TilVids doesn’t want to federate with everyone else, but it does have the most interesting videos (particularly of Linux interest). Spectra.Video and Diode.Zone are also great options to move your videos at. Just note that bandwidth is limited in these free services, so it’s best to upload in 1080p instead of 4k. There are 3-4 mobile apps for it. Alternative to Medium/Wordpress/SubStack: WriteFreely Not much to say here, a very modern editor that acts as blogging and article publishing service. Secure Messaging and IRC/Discord alternatives: Matrix Matrix is secure messaging end-to-end with Element.io being the main provider. It can also act as a community messaging server. Nostr and Jami are the newest such services on the block, but they’re a little bit weird to get into, I still prefer Matrix. Alternative to TikTok: none Thank the Olympian gods! Finally, the best way to deal with some smaller instances going down and losing your account is to get 1-3 different accounts on different instances. I personally have 3 Mastodon accounts, 3 PeerTube ones, and 2 Lemmy/1 Kbin ones. I used an older $70 phone (Moto G5 Plus) where I have installed the free, and very private Murena /e/ OS. It’s a totally de-googled Android OS (more so than LineageOS) that uses the iOS UI paradigm. In it, I use three app stores that only carry open source apps: F-Droid, IzzyOnDroid, and Obtainium. I avoid as much as possible from installing from the Aurora or the included App Lounge app stores that use the Google Play Store. The OS uses the open source microG service to replace the Google Play Services. So, I have almost completely left behind the normal social media and moved on to the Fediverse (apart from FB messenger with my mom, and a couple of special-interest subreddits via my laptop). You see, after leaving OSNews 15+ years ago, I became an artist. And social media was the way to get sales back then. I started with Tumblr, and later Instagram and FB. Overall, I had amassed about 340,000 followers across all social media. Sales were good for a while. Then, the enshittification started. The biggest blow was Instagram removing the chronological feed and hashtag importance, and little by little only superstar accounts were pushed by the recommendation engines. By 2020, it was near-impossible to survive online selling your art. Now, I don’t have any illusions that the Fediverse can replace the golden era of social media (2010-2020). I have calculated that you need a minimum of 100 million active users for various niche business to survive under a fair social media system. And currently, the whole Fediverse only has about 14.5 million accounts, with only about 2.2 million being active. In fact, I don’t expect the fediverse to ever achieve more than 10 million active users… And yet, I prefer to stay on it. It’s simply a more fair system. It’s not a corporation that changes its policies at a whim, or sells your data. I rather use a “lesser” system in terms of reach and maintain my mental health, than battling Instagram’s algorithms all day long (“no, I don’t want to shoot useless vertical short videos”). So, come on and join us on the fediverse. The more the merrier! Note: OSNews is very active on the Fediverse. We have the main OSNews account which posts our stories,
We've highlighted the dire warnings of Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk in recent months regarding the perils of artificial intelligence, but this week he actually managed to raise the bar in terms of making A.I. seem scary. More at Mashable
. My take:
I worked on AI 20 years ago (wow, time flies). I don't believe that we will ever create anything truly sentient. Intelligent and useful for our needs, yes. But truly sentient, no. For something to become evil, it must be sentient. Anything else, if it ever becomes problematic, it would just be software bugs, not evilness.
Amazon just announced the Fire TV stick, a cheap streaming media dongle, which looks a lot like Google's Chromecast, and the Roku streaming stick. But there some important differences that might make each device slightly better suited to different people. More at Gizmodo
Moto 360, a futuristic watch scooped up its share of praise before it'd even landed on store shelves. The now there's also the LG G Watch R, a device which tackles the smartwatch problem from a slightly different angle. Read the review here
that Ubuntu 14.10, dubbed Utopic Unicorn, has been released today. PC World says that at first glance "isn't the most exciting update," with not so much as a new default wallpaper -- but happily so: it's a stable update in a stable series, and most users will have no pressing need to update to the newest version.
The new iPad is thinner, lighter and faster, but its biggest draw is yesterday’s features: Touch ID and a better camera, says The Guardian
. Also reviews at The Verge
, and Engadget
News broke this morning that Google, alongside a number of venture capital firms, led a $542 million investment in a mysterious startup named Magic Leap. The company is promising to "build a rocket ship for the mind" that will completely reinvent the way we experience the world. Founder Rony Abovitz calls his technology "cinematic reality" and says it goes way beyond what virtual or augmented reality have so far been able to accomplish. More at Engadget
, and NYT
Apple’s iOS 8.1 update is now available to download. The biggest addition is the new Apple Pay service which goes live today alongside iOS 8.1. Apple Pay will allow iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air 2, and iPad mini 3 owners to pay for goods within compatible apps by simply swiping a finger with Touch ID. iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus owners will also be able to use their phones to tap card readers in participating stores to pay for goods using a combination of Touch ID and NFC. Apple Pay integrates into the existing Passbook feature on iOS 8.1, allowing you to setup and store credit and debit cards. More info at The Verge
The OnePlus One
is among the most talked-about phones these days. Both because of its high-end features and affordable price, making it one of the flagship models of 2014, but also because it's... impossible to get one. These are my first impressions of the device so far.
When my 3+ year old DELL laptop died a few weeks back, I decided to give Chromebooks a try. So the Acer C720, at just $199, became my new laptop. This is my experience with it so far.
The Acer C720 is similar in specs to other Chromebooks currently on the market. It's a Haswell architecture with a dual core Celeron, 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB flash, HDMI-out, 3 USB, webcam, Bluetooth, and a 1366x768 px screen. It's 0.8" tall, and weighs just 2.76 lbs. Its battery life is rated for 8.5 hours but in real world usage rated at about 7 hours. You can view its specs in detail here.
The laptop feels very light, sturdy and of a good build quality. Its keyboard is easy to get accustomed to, and I had no trouble at all, coming from a radically different keyboard design on the DELL. The ChromeOS function keys are really handy too, e.g. to change brightness, volume etc. The touchpad has the right size, position and responsiveness too.
Artificial intelligence is still a long way
from delivering the human intelligence in robot form that has long been common in science fiction.
Following our recent interview with the iPhone collage artist _meta_, a few readers asked for more such articles. So here's one on how to create your own such digital collages! Technically-speaking, digital collage, illustrations, and photo-montage are the same thing. It's just pictures or drawings put together in a single image, made look like a seamless, coherent piece. However, there are distinct differences in the way these are perceived and enjoyed, they essentially are different sub-genres.
One of my recent endeavours
involves surreal digital collage, which currently has its own, rejuvanated, underground movement
. In my search for inspiration I came across a talented artist, _meta_
("Kim" in real world). At the time Kim happened to only publish his works for his followers on Instagram, so few people has seen his works. The biggest surprise for me was that Kim's artwork doesn't come to life via Photoshop or The Gimp, but via an iPhone 4s. Modern collage works require quite some cutting precision, so I found this fascinating-enough to ask Kim to walk us through his creation process.
Ben Goertzel regarding Artificial Intelligence. Ben started the OpenCog project (an open sourced AI non-profit), acts as an adviser to the Singularity University, and currently bounces back between Hong Kong and Maryland building in-game AI.
I recently delved into the world of hand-drawn comics-style animation, after a lifetime of just sketching on paper. While I have a long experience with video editing, I had no experience with video animation of that kind. When I first got the idea to do the video it felt like a mountain to me, excessively complex. But the steep learning curve got easier with time. This is my top-5 cheat list to get you up and running.
By reading various media news in the last year or so, a very disturbing pattern appeared. When media providers like Amazon, Apple, Google, Netfix, Microsoft tried to license content off of Hollywood, they were either given extremely high prices, or they were being rejected altogether. Microsoft even canceled a finished XBoX360-related video product recently because they couldn't license content easily, Netflix is given harder and harder time as time goes by (notice how only a few good movies were added to their streaming service in the last few months), and even the almighty Apple had the door shut on its face numerous times.
Google today announced
a new Google Music Store, with partnership of 3 out of the 4 major labels, and lots of indie ones. Additionally, they announced free cloud music service for up to 20,000 songs, and lots of exclusive content, and "social" features like "free streaming for your friends after you buy a song or album". Read on for a short commentary.
: "An anticipated Apple high-definition television set, complete with iOS features including Siri voice commands, FaceTime video chat and access to the App Store, would be a strong product in a massive $100 billion market, according to a new analysis." Last year I explained my vision of a smart TV too (read the comment
), and my ideas were pretty much the same thing AppleInsider discusses about today. Back then I was almost laughed at by most OSNews residents for these ideas. I have the feeling that the people who then found my ideas ridiculous, they'll now find a possible Apple smart TV "natural" and "revolutionary".
Twitter is currently buzzing about the death of Dennis Ritchie
, the visionary creator of UNIX and C, among other things. We hope it's just a false rumor. Story developing, we will be updating. Update:
Unfortunately, it seems to be confirmed. Rob Pike, co-creator of the Plan 9 and Inferno OSes, who has worked with Ritchie in the past, and he's currently working for Google's GO language, posted this
Within the last few days we read the news about Apple's Siri
AI personal assistant, and about a brain implant that lets monkeys control
virtual limps & feel virtual objects. I believe that if someone is to also combine a few more technologies (e.g. high-res eyeware
, appropriate operating system changes), we will be looking at the next user interface revolution, after the inventions of the computer mouse and touch interfaces.