Is there a category for platforms like and maybe that use blockchains but are not selling snake oil and/or devastating the climate? It’s too late to use “web3” I think. Maybe mastodon fits in this list too, but it feels more semi-centralized than decentralized.


@hkgumbs I'd say SSB isn't using a blockchain?

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@akkartik In my mind “blockchain” == “cryptographically signed linked list as a means for storage”. Is that off? (It’s probably off. I’m _just_ diving into this world and trying to figure out the categories.)

@hkgumbs @akkartik it's perhaps technically a blockchain, but so is Git too then. I prefer to only apply blockchain (without saying "technically") to projects that use cryptocurrency. There are too many negative connotations.

Mastodon is definitely not a blockchain in any way.

@makeworld Yes. "blockchain" doesn't just mean a chain of blocks, it's a (cryptographically signed) chain of blocks plus a method for determining which head is globally the canonical head.

SSB doesn't have this, it just hopes it will never encounter two different heads that are both a valid transitive child of the one you have.

To put it simply, cryptocurrencies make the most expensive valid head the canonical one to make an attack expensive, and that's why you need proof of either consumption or capital.

@akkartik @hkgumbs
@makeworld If you don't have the consensus algorithm it's just a Merkle chain. SSB is a Merkle chain. git is a more general Merkle tree. Reader caution: An actual Merkle tree may have a stricter definition, but these follow the general principle of it.

@akkartik @hkgumbs

This is super helpful thank you! “Blockchain doesn’t just mean a chain of blocks” perfectly captures my misunderstanding.

A more frazzled version of my initial post would have read “what is the fediverse!? I’m seeing different definitions that seem to span from SSB to Mastadon to wealth transfer schemes.” Reflecting on it that way highlights that even my question conflates the platforms impact with the technical details.


So I’m glad I had this discussion, but I definitely need to reevaluate the assumptions that got me here 🙂

@makeworld @akkartik @clacke

@hkgumbs I certainly learned a lot that I didn't know when I vaguely asked how SSB could be a blockchain. Thanks for the thread!

@clacke @makeworld

@hkgumbs By the strictest and earliest definition the Fediverse would be the network of servers running OStatus.

Later as most of the servers in that Fediverse added ActivityPub support and further down the road dropped OStatus, the Fediverse arguably came to mean that network of servers that speak ActivityPub, or rather the almost-ActivityPub that allows you to communicate with Mastodon.

@makeworld @akkartik

@hkgumbs @akkartik I’d say “blockchain” specifically implies at LEAST “there is one canonical linked list that all participants agree on”; otherwise you can just say “merkle tree”

IMO in practice it probably also implies “participants who verify new additions to the list are rewarded” because there aren’t other workable schemes for mass agreement that I’m aware of, and that’s when things go way off the rails

Merkle trees were definitely part of the vocabulary I was missing — thanks!

@SpindleyQ @akkartik

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