Federated identity? Any interest in the Solid project that Tim Berners-Lee is doing?

Let’s say you have a mastodon account at mastodon.social and you want to move to a smaller niche community: there are some pain points there.

You can have it forward your identity but it’s a little weird and you’ll come up multiple times when people use tools like debirdify to find your mastodon.

Let’s say that I’m on mastodon.social but I want to browse a bunch of profiles on mastodon.gamedev.place. The experience from the web browser isn’t great and it’s pretty bad if not impossible to do this from the mastodon native app. You have to copy and paste names back over to the instance you’re from or use the multi step redirect follow action modal.

There’s lots of friction that needs to be worked out.

At least some of this appears to me to be rooted in a really proper federation of identity.

The Jack Dorsey, blockchained powered Bluesky protocol claims to have support for portable federated identity. https://blueskyweb.org/

Tim Berners-Lee has created a thing called the Solid project that’s specifically focused on federated identity. https://solidproject.org/

Is there any interest or movement on this subject within the AP community?

It seems to me to be a crucial source of a lot of friction for users.


You may want to breathe new life into the crossposted topics I maintained for a while between both communities. On SocialHub that is:

And on Solid community forum:

One issues is that both communities aren’t really healthy and keeping cross-pollination going is therefore hard. On SocialHub the reason is that AP dev movement is so grassroots and on Solid side the core team of people aren’t interested in community and focus first and foremost on commercial application of their specs to drive adoption.


There is a similar concept: nomadic identity. Though I’m not sure if it’s the same thing you’re talking about:

I’m currently writing a specification for a mechanism of linking any key-based identity to a fediverse account, you can find some additional information in that thread. AFAIK Solid uses domain-based identities, so unfortunately it’s out of scope.

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And there is Applications of DIDs to Federated Social Media meeting tomorrow.

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There is a difference between nomadic identity and portable identities.

Portable identities allow you to migrate your identity to another server, whereas nomadic identity allows you to use your identity on and from multiple servers simultaneously.

As far as I know, the Zot protocol in Hubzilla, and the Nomad protocol in Streams are the only protocols that allow nomadic identity, and neither of them use DIDs. We are hoping that FEP-c390 would be written to allow nomadic identities by recognizing multiple authorized domains/clones of an account.

Bluesky’s ATP seems to allow portable identity, not nomadic identity, based on the limited docs available online. ATP uses DIDs. I am not sure how Solid identities work.

Another technology that should be considered is OpenWebAuth, which allows you to log in (technically, remotely authenticate) on other websites with your social identity. This is implemented in Hubzilla and Streams, and other forks of these projects. Recently, some developers are working on implementing this in other platforms.

OpenWebAuth would be out of scope of ActivityPub, but I mention it since it is relevant to the concerns mentioned in the original post.

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