Last Month in Bluesky – May 2024Jack Dorsey leaves the

Last Month in Bluesky – May 2024

Jack Dorsey leaves the board of Bluesky, DMs have arrived, and much more.

The News

Jack Dorsey has left the board of Bluesky. The unexpected announcement came after a question on Twitter if he was still on the board, which he answered with a simple ‘no’. At that point, no announcement had been made yet, which came soon after. Dorsey says that he left the board because according to him, Bluesky ‘went in the wrong direction’. He had not been actively involved with Bluesky for a while, as an indication of his noninvolvement, developer Paul Frazee said he has never met with him. Shortly after, Dorsey gave an extensive interview where he discussed his thoughts on Bluesky more. He has been more involved in Nostr, and in the recent shareholder letter of Block, where Dorsey is CEO, Block says they are working on integrating Nostr into more of their products (with TIDAL announcing a first small integration recently). For some more analysis:

Bluesky has published a new roadmap for what can people can expect of the app in the near future. The most important new features include DMs (since delivered), video, improvements to custom feeds, better anti-harassment features, and OAuth. The improvements for custom feeds show that Bluesky is leaning more and more into algorithmic choice for their users. What stands out to me is how similar some of the proposed features are to how Farcaster has build their custom feeds (as Michael Foster from Newsmast also discovered). The current era of competing open protocols for social networks show a rapid iteration and dissemination of good ideas, and I’m excited to see how Bluesky will expand their custom feeds.

The Bluesky company also published a roadmap for atproto. In another step towards open federation, new PDS’es do not require approval anymore, but their is still an account limit per PDS that can be lifted manually (such as for the fediverse<->Bluesky bridge). There is also more work being done on security, with major work on supporting OAuth, as well as more basic MFA for the current transition period. Bluesky also mentions that some requested features are on the roadmap, but will likely not be implemented in 2024: E2EE DMs, private posts and post editing are all things that Bluesky will work on, but will take a while to complete.

Bluesky also mentions that they originally planned to start a formal process to submit atproto to a standards body in summer 2024, but that they are delaying this process until there are more new applications being build on top of atproto. Bluesky notes that most developer activity has revolved around the microblogging app Bluesky, but that until recently it has been difficult for developers to build completely new applications on top of atproto.

The first feature of Bluesky’s product roadmap already shipped: DMs! Due to the high demand for DMs and how it helps with user retention, DMs are a simple implementation that is not build on top of atproto (which is planned for later), nor is it end to end encrypted. It is a bare-bones chatting service that currently does not even have the ability to send images or group chats (which are planned soon). Third party developers do have the ability to also implement chats into their clients, which some people already managed to do before the feature officially got launched.

Newsletter The Pragmatic Engineer has a deep dive into Bluesky’s Engineering culture that is worth reading. It lists everyone working on the product (plus 20 unnamed people working in moderation), which is a helpful overview to understand how the company works. What also stood out to me is the answer on how Bluesky plans to make money: it only lists selling custom domains as a way to make money. In two interviews with The Verge in February and March 2024, Bluesky CEO Jay Graber also listed a variety of other plans to make money, which are not mentioned here: managed hosting via a Cloudflare-like enterprise arm, and marketplaces for moderation and custom feeds. It is unclear what the status of these ideas is.

The developer of atproto-based blogging platform WhiteWind has written a blog about his experience of developing on atproto. They write: “[WhiteWind] looked no different from existing services on Bluesky, so I could say that atproto did not contribute to enhancing the competitiveness of my service. Users could switch their service to another similar one anytime thanks to atproto, but since there are no such services, the benefit is virtually none.” This is a signal that is worth paying attention to, as the Bluesky company is explicitly saying that they need more developers building new applications. Meanwhile, WhiteWind is the only application so far that meets that definition, and the developer is not clear what the benefits are to building on top of atproto. In the meantime, two Japanese web clients, Klearsky and Hagoromo, have starting to support WhiteWind, by showing blog articles at the top of people’s profile.

The bridge between the fediverse and Bluesky has been used to spam Bluesky with pro-Trump messaging, with the spam originating from Nostr. The spam was created on Nostr, which bridges to the fediverse with the bridge, which in turn can be bridged to Bluesky. While all the networks have many places of easy, open signups, spam tends to happen were signups can easily happen in bulk, and the protocol design of Nostr makes it especially easy to create new accounts.

A closer look at Japanese developers building on atproto

I took a closer look at three products build on top of atproto: video with Bluemotion, audio with Bluecast, and WhiteWind.

Video, audio and blogging: Japanese Bluesky is building in the ATmosphere

The Links

  • Ændra has been running the XBlock labeler, that labels screenshots from other social networks. She has written up some of her thoughts here about the experience of running a labeler.
  • Two updates to WhiteWind, including a new homepage that shows recent and popular articles, and the ability to create article drafts.
  • Bluesky has handed out micro-grants to three labeling services: XBlock, Aegis and News Detective.
  • Xblock published a roadmap on the work on the labeler.
  • New personalised feeds with SkyGraph.
  • Soleia is a giving platform build on top atproto that is currently being developed. A demo of the campaign page can be seen here.
  • Skythrow is a new bluesky posting-only client for Android and iOS.
  • Bluesky is working on temporary account deactivation.
  • An overview of the different languages used on Bluesky: Portuguese has dropped off, and English has overtaken Japanese again as the dominant language.
  • Tips and Tricks for Bluesky search.

That’s all for this month, thanks for reading. You can follow me on Bluesky, or subscribe to my newsletter below. You’ll get a weekly update on the fediverse in your inbox, and a monthly update on Bluesky and the ATmosphere.


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