New open web social apps to check out

People love sharing on the internet and the technology is always evolving. Enthusiasts recently flocked to Kickstarter to back a new blogging tool,, RSS and podcasting pioneer Dave Winer released a new open source app,, and the old bones of micro-blogging phenom are back in the form of Meanwhile, the W3C released ActivityPub and WebMention to tie social networking sites together.

My friend Rick Turoczy helped ignite the tech start-up scene in Portland, Oregon and he recently clued me in to a KickStarter for micro-blogging. He knew I’d been quoted in Wired about micro-blogging, published an open source micro-blog and passed a W3C-sponsored contest to create a decentralized photo-tagging feature. has an elegant iOS app, an active Slack forum, a discovery feature to find people to follow, and a paid employee in charge of moderation. It’s off to a promising start. micro-blog is an open source blogging tool that takes advantage of Twitter’s OAuth flow to make it ridiculously easy for authors and guests to sign in and interact. Fans have set up aggregators of 1999 blogs, while under the hood of 1999 you can find feed designs that make this software “most likely to form a coral reef”.

image of 1999 micro-blog


Built on the bones of, offers a real-time experience that harkens back to FriendFeed, but with a fully decentralized architecture which is quite a technical feat. Instances are popping up fast and furious and I was able to “Follow” people on other instances from the main Mastodon Web site.

mastodon micro-blog


Feed readers and social networking sites are both great ways to follow the news. One of the disadvantages of traditional social networks is the inability to block ads selectively, the way you can with a web browser. I love to see what my friends are sharing on the big social networks, so I recently added Reeder to my phone to keep up with friends who publish to their own sites. This has quickly become one of my favorite ways to follow the news.


ActivityPub and WebMention are the latest offerings from the W3C that promise to provide social plumbing between Web sites. ActivityPub can be used to tag photos or Like objects. WebMention is already being used to allow replies to blog posts to flow “upstream” from commenters’ own sites back to the original authors sites, where the comment can appear and the author can choose to delete or not.


  1. Another interesting piece that’s related to webmention and feed readers is the W3C Micropub spec that I believe was released on the same day as ActivityPub. There are already feed readers like that allow you to not only subscribe and read your friends who publish to their own sites, but you can use it to micropub “likes” and “replies” to those posts directly from the reader and to publish them directly to your own website if it supports the micropub spec (and yes, there’s already a WordPress plugin for that). These micropubbed posts can then, in turn, send webmentions from your own site to your friends’ posts to be displayed as comments there.

    More details on all of these and how they can interact can be found on the wiki at

    1. Thanks Chris, I can see how with an advanced feed reader like Woodwind, and a bunch of WordPress/other blogs – you have a network similar to Mastodon – but not as real-time if done with comment moderation – and Mastodon itself probably supports webmention too.

  2. Brian, thanks for the link to the 1999 bloggers river! I found out about this post through the river from your 1999 blog post – thanks for spreading the news around! I would be interested in hearing if there are any ActivityPub implementations available.

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