For the past week I’ve been road-testing Bluesky, the decentralised social media platform that has a little bit of a twist. It’s fronted by Jay Graber and not, as widely touted, ex Twitter frontman, Jack Dorsey. Yes Jack is a big backer but the ex bird app CEO, headcook and bottlewasher is not driving this Twitter alternative.
The web. email. RSS feeds. XMPP chats. What all these technologies had in common is they allowed people to freely interact and create content, without a single intermediary.
BlueSky are building the AT Protocol, a new foundation for social networking which gives creators independence from platforms, developers the freedom to build, and users a choice in their experience. This, in their own words, is Bluesky’s ambitious vision of the future, putting you, the user, back in control.
For instance I own the whoatv.com domain so my handle over at Bluesky could be @whoatv.com if I wished and it could replace my current michaelmorgan.bsky.social handle. You basically take your current IP with you to the platform, if you’re that precious about it. I’m not so I’ve kept my handle aligned to Bluesky.
Admittedly Bluesky is in beta so to set up an account you need to be invited which, I can’t lie, gives it an exclusive pretentious air to it. It’s like a cool frat club with, ‘bitch you’re not invited’ vibes.
Sign up, setting your handle and changing it to reflect your IP and getting follows are all super easy. The vibe over there is super chilled and everybody wants to help you navigate what essentially, on the face of it, is familiar ground. Starting with an app, even whilst in beta, is a masterstroke in securing its use and feeding anticipation for its roll out. After two weeks on the app I’m told I will be issued some golden tickets to grant others access to the new chocolate factory.
The traction. It’s a lil dead and you are mostly shouting into the canyon that is Bluesky and having your own post come back and smack you around the chops unanswered. Hashtags are non existent so it’s easy to see how you can miss conversations and why its hard to track what is being said about a particular point of interest.
There are some pretty high profile users on there, DC’s James Gunn being one of them, but with no blue tick verification equivalent you have to take a real leap of faith that the celebs being added are who they say they are.
There is no direct messaging, no gifs, no video and no audio. This is a little jarring. Saying that though Bluesky are developing a Twitter Spaces alternative which I’ve had a play with. The audio is smooth, but it’s a little glitchy, which is to be expected at this stage of its development.
I’ve a feeling big things are coming down the track for this app, it’s got a great atmosphere and none of the existing users have carried over the trauma or toxicity of Twitter. Don’t get me wrong the occasional racists on the app have indeed found their voices quickly curtailed in the last few days which is no mean feat given the size of the team running this thing. The security protocols are pretty tight and easy for you to configure.
Whether Bluesky will be quite the Twitter killer Mastodon, Post or Spoutible have been billed as remains to be seen, however, I’m excited to see where it goes as the chatter from the developers on the app is that they haven’t even started yet.