Video, audio and blogging: Japanese Bluesky is building

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

When Bluesky dropped the invite code requirement early in 2024, it led to a big inflow of the Japanese community into Bluesky. At some point, they became the biggest community on Bluesky, with 43% of the posts being made in Japanese, compared to 34% in English. Over the last few months, the Japanese Bluesky community has build a variety of cool new tools, projects and platforms for the ATmosphere. Let’s take a look at three of them: Whitewind, a blogging platform, Bluecast, a social audio app, and Bluemotion, a video hosting platform.

Video with Bluemotion

Bluemotion is a video platform that integrates with your Bluesky/ATmosphere account. You log in with your Bluesky handle and (app)password, and get an overview of the videos hosted on the platform:

front page of bluemotion showing 3 cat videos

The basics of a video hosting platform are all there: you can browse through categories, see what other people have posted, and post your own videos. Where it gets really interesting is that the accounts that post the videos are easily recognisable as Bluesky handles.

Now let’s take a look at a video. On the left is the video on Bluemotion, on the right is the same video, but now as a post on the official Bluesky app.

2 screenshots of the same video, on the left of bluemotion and on the right of bluesky. it shows the same video and engagement numbers

What is worth noting here is that this is the exact same post, as visible by the engagement numbers. You can interact with the post from the Bluesky app, but you can also boost and like it directly from Bluemotion itself. Now, the only difference here is that the official Bluesky app cannot play videos, so it is a link to the Bluemotion site instead. Still, its a great example of what you can build on top of the AT Proto. Bluemotion is made by developer So Asano.

Blogging with WhiteWind

WhiteWind (stylized as whtwnd.com) is a blogging platform build on top of ATProto. As with all the products in this article, you simply login with your Bluesky/ATProto handle and (app) password.

Logging into WhiteWind shows you a front page with the latest and popular blog entries, as well as the ability to write your own blog posts. The integration with ATProto is visible in two different ways: first of all, your WhiteWind account is your ATProto/Bluesky account. Secondly, you can comment on blog posts with your account, and these are visible as a post on Bluesky as well. WhiteWind is developed by @K-NKSM.

Audio with Bluecast

Bluecast is an audio app build on top of ATProto. The idea is fairly simple, but well executed. Log in with your ATProto/Bluesky account, and browse the current live audio streams. You can also host your own live audio stream as well.

The interface of a live audio stream comes with a chat channel as well:

What impresses me most about Bluecast is that it has managed to build up an active audience of users. By far the hardest part of building a social app is getting people to consistently use it. Audio apps build on top other other protocols (such as audon.space for the fediverse) have struggled to get people to use them, even though they work perfectly fine. For Bluecast however, every time I have checked over the last week I have seen active audio rooms and people using the app. Part of it is that developer So Asano has been running events with multiple streams after each other, with some 60 people tuning in.

Integrating ATProto into Bluesky

The developers have made some impressive new products. At the same time, their work also showcases some struggles for new developers building on top of ATProto. The developer of WhiteWind wrote a blog recently about their experience developing WhiteWind, and write: “My service’s data should be reaching Bluesky, but Bluesky doesn’t understand it and simply discards it. It’s true that I can improve the quality of the service by for example making the UI more beautiful, without relying on atproto. But if it is the only way, what is the point of using atproto in the first place?”

To understand the point they are making, first a quick and oversimplified explanation: A lexicon is part of the protocol, and defines what a post does and how it looks. The official Bluesky app has defined the lexicon for posts to be short posts, limited to 300 characters. Anyone can build their on app on top of ATProto, and define their own lexicon. You can create a Lexicon for long-form blogging, videos, or whatever you want. Importantly however, the official Bluesky app does not process posts with a different lexicon well.

This is the problem that the WhiteWind developer is referring to: WhiteWind has their own lexicon for long-form writing, which does not get processed by the Bluesky app. This is quite different from the fediverse, where long-form posts (from WordPress/Discourse/WriteFreely/etc) can show up in your microblogging app, such as Mastodon. I connected my WordPress blog to the fediverse, and now my blogs show up as full text in the feed of people who follow me, in turn gaining me quite some extra organic reach. This is not possible with AT Proto,new users will still have to visit your website to start using it, making growth for a new product that much harder.

At the same time, Bluesky developers are understandably wary of the Bluesky app becoming an ‘everything-app’. The goal of the Bluesky company is to build a decentralised protocol after all, and the Bluesky app is explicitly an app for microblogging. Bluesky users have regularly criticised the move by X to promote longer-form writing as well, indicating that native long-form writing in Bluesky might not even be appreciated by a part of the userbase.

Overall it points for an interesting point in time for the ATmosphere: Japanese Bluesky developers have build some impressive new products on AT Proto, but is the network interested in adopting other products beyond Bluesky’s own microblogging?

#bluesky

https://fediversereport.com/video-audio-and-blogging-japanese-bluesky-is-building-in-the-atmosphere/