Posters are the guide of the future internet

For the past two decades, our social networks and social media platforms have been worlds unto themselves. Each has its own social graph that shows who you follow and who follows you. Each has its own feed, its own algorithms, its own apps, and its own user interfaces (although they’ve all pretty much settled on the same aesthetic over time). Each has its own publishing tools, character limits, and image filters. Being online means constantly shifting between these places and their ever-changing sets of rules and norms.

But now we may be at the beginning of a new era. Instead of two dozen platforms competing to own your entire life, apps like Mastodon, Bluesky, Pixelfed, Lemmy and others are creating a more interconnected social ecosystem. If this ActivityPub-based change is made, it will split every social network into a thousand pieces. All posts, of any kind, will be removed from their respective platforms. Well, get new tools for creating those posts, new tools for reading them, new tools for organizing them, and new tools for moderating them and sharing them and recomposing them and everything else.

All these changes can be very exciting, but it raises a complicated question. If you’re someone who posts and creates everything from tweets to TikToks for lols or for a living through posts, what are you doing now? For two decades, the answer has been relatively simple: if you want to post somewhere, log into that platform, use its tools, and click publish. How are posters posted in a much more open and decentralized world?

POSSE and the future of shipping are also recent topics Vergecast Section. Subscribe here.

I think the answer lies in a decade-old idea of ​​how to organize the Internet. It’s called POSSE: publish (on) your site, syndicate everywhere. (Sometimes P is also Post and E can be somewhere else. The idea is the same either way.) The idea is that you, the poster, should post on a website that you own. Not an app that can delete and take all your posts with it, not a platform with ever-changing rules and algorithms. Your website. But people who want to read or watch, listen or look at your posts can do so almost anywhere because your content is connected to all those platforms.

People have been talking about POSSE and practicing it on their sites for years. (If you want a good example of how it works, check out Tantek Celiks blog. Celik is an early believer in POSSE in the IndieWeb community, and his website shows what it looks like in action.) But as the platform They grew and enlarged their garden. Walls are getting higher, the open web is giving way to centralized platforms in a big way. However, in the past year, especially after Elon Musk took to Twitter to warn users about how quickly their platforms are changing or dying, POSSE has regained traction alongside ActivityPub and other more open ideas.

In the world of POSSE, everyone owns a domain name and everyone has a blog

In the world of POSSE, everyone owns a domain name and everyone has a blog. (I’m defining a blog here simply, just as a place on the Internet where you post your content and other people consume it.) When you want to post something, blog it. You do it yourself. Then, your long blog post may be broken up into pieces and posted as a thread on X and Mastodon and Threads. Everything can also go to your Medium and Tumblr page and LinkedIn profile. If you post a photo, it might go straight to Instagram, and a vertical video will go straight to TikTok, Reels, and Shorts. Your post will appear natively on all those platforms, usually with some sort of link back to your blog. And your blog becomes the center of everything, your main home on the Internet.

Done right, POSSE is the best of all post worlds. “As a publisher, I want to be as interactive as possible,” says Matt Mullenough, CEO of Automattic and one of the most important people working on WordPress. (Automattic also owns Tumblr, another of the largest internet posting platforms.) So why make me choose which network to go to? I have to post it once, ideally on my domain, and then it goes to X and Threads and Tumblr and all the other networks that can have all the interfaces and network effects and everything else. But my thoughts must go to all those places.

People like Tantek Celik are already practicing POSSE. It’s a tweet and a blog post, and maybe the difference doesn’t matter.
Photo: Tantek Chalik / David Pearce

POSSE makes sense, both philosophically, of course you have to own your content and have a focused web and logistics house. Managing a dozen identities on half a dozen platforms is a lot of work!

But there are some big challenges to this idea. The first is the social aspect of social media: what do you do with all the likes, replies, comments and everything else that comes with your posts? POSSE is a great unifier for dispatch, but it splits the conflict into countless confusing pieces. There’s also the question of what it means to post the same thing on dozens of different platforms. Platforms have their own norms, they have their own audiences, they have their own languages. How often do you really want to post the same thing on LinkedIn and Tumblr? And if you do, at what stage of spam are you undetectable?

However, the most pressing question is how to build a POSSE system that works. The problems with POSSEs start from the beginning: it requires you to own your website, which means you buy a domain and worry about DNS records and web host discovery, and by far, the vast majority of people who prefer They only let you type in a username, you’re lost. and passwords to some free meta platforms.

Even those willing and able to do technical work can struggle to get POSSE working

Even those willing and able to do technical work can struggle to get POSSE working. “When I started, I literally had an HTML template in the default Linux editor,” says Cory Doctorow, an activist and author who has blogged for decades and recently launched a new POSSE blog called Pluralistic. I have Emacs key bindings installed on it and I literally open that file and save it again with a different file name, add the day’s date to it, and then a bunch of blog posts in this I write a pattern. And then I would copy and paste them into the Twitter threading tool, and Mastodon, and Tumblr, and Medium, one by one, edit them individually, do a bunch of stuff, and then turn it into a text file that I would email. I put in an email that I send to one of the Mailmans where I host the newsletter. And then I also had full-text RSS, and Discourse for comments, which has its own syndicate so people can follow you in the discourse.

Doctorow estimates that for a long time, he spent less time writing his posts than figuring out where he was going. And I made many mistakes. Now, he has a more automated system, but it still involves tons of Python scripting, dozens of browser tabs, and a lot more manual work than most people put their thoughts out into the world.

In the post-platform world, there may be an entire industry of tools to manage cross-posting of your content across the web. But they were still living on platforms and would be for some time. So right now, the best tools we have are tools like, a six-year-old platform for interactive posters. When you sign up for, you get your own blog (which the platform offers to connect to your domain) and a way to automatically post to Mastodon, LinkedIn, Bluesky, Medium, Pixelfed, Nostr, and Flickr.

Manton Reece, creator of, says he sees POSSE as a pragmatic approach to how social networks work. Instead of waiting for the perfect world, where every social network can connect and talk to each other and you can follow someone from Threads to Mastodon to Twitter to Facebook, let’s face reality and start posting, he says. Focus on your site. Your site that you control and then send it to friends on other networks. Don’t be so principled that you cut off your content from the rest of the world! is a blogging platform, but it’s also a place to post to other platforms.

One thing that hasn’t realized is the interaction aspect of it all. Reece says he’s interested in building tools to collect and make sense of replies, likes, comments and the like, but the prospect is much more difficult. But this too may one day be an industry unto itself. Reece mentions a tool called Bridgy that both allows cross-posting and collects social media reactions and links them to posts on your site. This will forever be a struggle with existing platforms, which mostly have no incentive or means to transfer engagement data to the wider web. But some people think they can solve it.

When it comes to maintaining different networks, Mullenough thinks, ultimately, POSSE is a user interface problem. And solvable, he says: I’ve thought a lot about what the right user interface is for this. I think there might be something like this, the first step is to post on my blog, and the second step is to get opportunities to customize it for each network. Where POSSE has gone wrong so far, he says, is trying to automate everything. I’m really into this two or three step publishing process to get around this.

POSSE is actually only one piece of the new social puzzle. Before long, we may have new reading tools with different ideas about how to display and organize posts. We may have new content moderation systems. We might have an entire industry of algorithms where people compete not to create the best posts, but to show them in the most interesting order. Modern social networks are not a single product, but a huge collection of features, and the next generation of tools may be all about isolation.

When I ask Docturo why he believed in POSSE, he describes the tension that every poster feels on the modern Internet. I wanted to find a way to be on a new platform in this moment, where, with few exceptions, everyone gets their news and reading through silos that hold you to ransom, he says. And I wanted to use those silos to attract readers and engage and engage with audiences, but I didn’t want to be dependent on them. The best of both worlds is a lot of work right now. But poster heaven may not be so far away.

#Posters #guide #future #internet
Image Source :

Leave a Comment