New essay: Seven theses on the Fediverse and the becoming of FLOSS

Recently, @rra and I have been working on an essay highlighting questions about the and how these are getting entangled with practices. From software production to structure and governance within alternative social media, online communities and politics.

The text follows a multi theses model, to map the different things we've been looking at and publish the current state of our research.

It is the closing chapter of a new publication from INC/Transmediale (

PDF of the text:

Feedback welcome. We're planning to publish an online version with more references!

@kropot @320x200 yes we're working on that! Also the web publication will be updated with more theses!

@rra @320x200 if it's possible to mention me when it's out, would be lovely

@320x200 @rra Hi, I really like this theses. Thank you all for writing it. But… why a restrictive license on this book? It’s a CC-ND and by Non-Derivatives I understand I cannot translate the content for example….

@titi @rra Thanks for the feedback! We did not choose the license, it's boiler plate stuff from the publisher. Quite happy that they decided to make a PDF avail right away for free TBH. With that said, the online version that we will put will be licensed differently (we still haven't decided yet, but probably CC0). In general CC-ND does not prevent translation, but it just makes the translator work more as there is an extra step needed, that is getting an exception from the copyright owners. But I get your point. I think in this case the publisher use of ND is not meant to restrict translations, but to keep the circulation of the texts verbatim?

@320x200 @rra Thanks again, folks. Among others, I think that your approach about “strong links” (pg.114) is amazing :)

@320x200 @rra I have two pieces of feedback:
* One thing that strikes me as someone who does run a (small) instance, and does maintain a (small) software package, I think some more focus on the personal dynamics (people who moderate, administrate, develop are people, and not easily abstracted or generalized over) of that sort of situation would be useful. e.g.: if I want to do something, with, I generally will, and you just kind of have to trust that I am generally an okay person, and there may be personal reasons for some decisions that have nothing to do with "what would be the right thing" type considerations; "esprit de corps" in a moderation team; not just "how much process vs trust is desirable in a system what size" but also "how much process is actually possible, how has this turned out and why?", those kinds of things
* The part about funding models reminded me about why i.w. does not take donations: because that would legally make it a business in DE, with a LOT

@320x200 @rra of law that would then apply, some of which was specifically made because twitter and facebook and google and such cannot behave, some of which is just general running a business online law. I think that aspect, that "community-operated non-commercial social media website accessible internationally" is not really something that legal frameworks (especially in a country like here where the legal and political world has just recently caught up to the fact that websites exist at all) or past experience exist for, is something that deserves mentioning, I think

Thanks @halcy for taking the time to give us some feedback!

Point 1. Yes we definitively need to be more explicit about this. I think that's already somehow implied here and there but would need to be unpacked further more precisely. Point 2. Totally agree, and yes also totally missing from the text, def something to add in the next iteration.

CC @rra

@320x200 @rra (I notice this a bit late, but what I should maybe have lead with and usually would but I guess I just typed that post out start to end and didn't go back to read it: I thought it was a really interesting article and I think it's super interesting that there's now well structured work on the fediverse specifically. good luck with the publication!)

@320x200 @rra
Amazing to read this, great that it structures in one piece and analyses all the many happenings in fediverse. I have a bit of sadness in seing FLOSS being qualified as a-political and therefore opposed to fediverse. Not all FLOSS is apolitical, it has been a historical debate within the community and still is, maybe another agonist space.
But yeah great thanks for needed work.

Thanks for the kind words @natacha !

To be sure, @rra and I do not want to give the idea that FLOSS as a whole is apolitical (if that's how it reads now, maybe we need to tweak that a bit better). It is more of questioning whether or not its model and framework, and the way it has been historically voiced and rationalised, is still relevant today and if it is able to contain all the ideologies it has attracted since its infancy. It's also about defining what precisely is the political scope of FLOSS and what kind of politics it can or cannot support or facilitate. These are difficult and open questions, but they are timely. They need to be put on the table given the revival of interests in experimenting with conditions, constitutions, and constraints in collective forms of production. As seen with non-FLOSS licensing and codes of conducts for instance.

(In relation to FLOSS as an agonistic space in its own: shameless plug (and possibly more elements of discussions in relation to your remark)

@320x200 @rra
Yes I know this great work, I also feel like bringing forward along with political analysis the necessity to continue with the technical argument.
We also did an attempt here:
For example, in the case of the fediverse we need to acknowledge domination, we cannot leave doors open and need to address the possibility of cooptation by surveillance capitalism .

@natacha @320x200

> For example, in the case of the fediverse we need to acknowledge domination, we cannot leave doors open and need to address the possibility of cooptation by surveillance capitalism .

this is a thesis which is missing in the text that we need to add urgently..

@natacha @rra agreed, and thanks for the link/text, will read it!

@320x200 @rra
lets continue the conversation of this as in the meantime we organised OFFDEM in brussels where there was also an activity pub gathering.
here is the manifesto that came out from it:
would be great if you feel like comenting supporting sharing etc...

@320x200 @rra

Nice essay.

I liked your description of one of the dynamics on the fediverse being 'conflictual consensus'.

The anarchic nature of the whole network and lack of a centralised authority allows for loose coupling and co-operative efforts between diverse communities when both agree to it.

@dublinux @rra Thanks! To be precise, the term conflictual consensus was not coined by us, it's one of the term coming from Mouffe's jargon related to her agonistic pluralism political theory, which we thought was quite fitting to make sense of what is/can/could happen on the fedi.

@320x200 @rra


As far as feedback is concerned, I read this paper about a month ago and am still circling it in my head. Digesting. Contemplating.

It is forming part of my own upcoming research on networks, so thank you for your work and dedication. I look forward to future studies.

@goofy @rra wow, great translation, thanks so much for spending time on this! It reads super well, super happy to see this text on framablog 🎉 pass my thanks/greetings to Claire, dodosan, jums, Macrico, Mannik, mo, roptat, tykayn, and wisi_eu 🎉

@goofy @320x200 ah fantastic! thank you so much for doing that! Great place to have it published!

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