I’m writing this post to announce that I hereby resign as co-chair of the W3C SocialCG. We still have three other excellent co-chairs: @rhiaro, @nightpool, and @aaronpk. I have full confidence in them and where they will bring things.
I’m stepping back for a few reasons. For one thing, I am very busy right now with Spritely and other work around it. I’ve been having trouble making time for the SocialCG, and it’s probably best to be explicit about that. I think the strongest work I do in terms of the federated social web is providing energy/enthusiasm, research, and writing. I don’t need to be co-chair to do that, and maybe I’d do better as an attendee anyway.
I think it may also be good for me to step back from the leadership role for avoiding “founder’s syndrome” type reasons. ActivityPub left quite a few things open, and the gaps have been filled in, and understandably so, by more conventional approaches that people know. The directions I’ve been pushing things are compatible with ActivityPub as an actor-model-social-network specification. In many meetings I’ve expressed caution about the consequences I see playing out about those choices, but I don’t have all the answers yet easily at hand for people to pick up and use… I think that can be frustrating to some participants, and understandably so. To that end I don’t want to be in a position where I’m seen as discouraging the hard and enthusiastic work that people are getting out of “ActivityPub in the present” as opposed to the “where ActivityPub (and decentralized social networks in general) should go” which is the foundation of my focus. I hope those paths can meet, but in the meanwhile much of the questions around ActivityPub are “how do I use ActivityPub as deployed ” are quite common (rather than “ as specified ” or “ as specified plus Chris’s strong opinions about how to fill in the gaps that do not reflect present-implementor-reality”). I’m not really the right person to lead that conversation, and I recognize that. I do have strong thoughts and concerns (particularly about how border-oriented approaches tend to result in re-centralization, and that there are better moderation directions available, but per the latter part you’ll be seeing more of that over the next year as I release some relevant demos), but what I don’t want to do is apply “stop energy” against present work.
To that end, it’s also worth noting that I think the SocialCG has never really ever totally found its footing. We’ve had many resolutions, but typically very little followup to those resolutions. The SocialWG in contrast had a lot of progress, but it also had a clock to race against. Maybe there’s something to that. So what should the SocialCG be today?
I’m not going to answer that question, but here are some possibilities:
- It could be an “implementor’s group”, of implementors predominantly who are setting the tone of “ActivityPub as deployed”. There’s a lot of interest in getting out community reports related to this, though not all of that has materialized into specific documents.
- It could be a show-and-tell style usergroup much of the time (and this doesn’t have to happen at the SocialCG either… anyone on here can organize “fediverse hangouts” to show off or discuss cool tech, any time!). This direction can always converge on getting out reports and etc after there’s shared confidence in a direction.
- It could even sit, suspended, until it’s needed. This is not necessarily a bad thing or a sign of failure.
What I think is true is that the SocialCG, and everything around it, is that it needs to be driven either by immediate needs and goals or by energetic enthusiasm or both. But what that means or what shape it is… well, I guess we’ll see.
At any rate, I’m happy to have served my time as SocialCG co-chair. It’s been an honor and generally very fulfilling to rally people around work that they really care about.
So… see you in the future in terms of SocialCG meetings, but instead as a participant. Thanks everyone!