Mr. X
2 years ago
What happened to Zot?
Some people are curious what happened to zot, the next generation communications protocol for Friendica. It was due in December, and it's March already. WTF?

The world is changing pretty quickly, and especially so in the decentralised web communications landscape. The short story is that zot was obsolete before it got off the ground.

The long story is a bit more interesting. Zot was conceived as a technology which was upwardly compatible with the core protocols of the three major players of the decentralised indie web - Friendica, Diaspora and StatusNet. It provided a way to converge on a common language for all of the indie web. It also provided for internet scale "access control" of any resource and had a vision of an eventually merging with email.

Also when Zot! was conceieved, Google was still a champion fo the free web, and Twitter loved having developers use their platform. The web wasn't completely open, but it was more open than it is today.

Times have changed. Google slammed the doors on the open web and dispensed with many of the free protocols which underlie the "open stack" and which are a foundation of the inde web. Twitter told developers to stay away. Both are applying strict limits to outside services accessing their proprietary platforms. 

StatusNet tried to bolt privacy onto their public protocols and couldn't figure out how to do it without throwing away "federation" between sites. So that's what they did (though it shows a distinct lack of vision). StatusNet no longer supports a federated web "out of the box". And if you choose federation, you lose privacy.

Diaspora is in the same position as Friendica, in that their older protocols weren't as extensible as they would have liked (not to mention that they're just plain broken), so they've started work on a new set. Rather than work with anybody else, they've chosen (as before) to develop this on their own behind closed doors - and it remains to be seen if this work will be ever published as a protocol document. There is also no concern about maintaining existing communications channels (which Friendica provided), so it appears that Diaspora will soon disappear from the federated indie web and there is no telling when or even if we might be able to hack our way through their protocols and break down their wall a second time. Once was painful enough.

In short, there is no longer a need for a unifying protocol to federate the free web - as everybody is locking their doors and using the communication of the people of the internet as their corporate cash cow.

We don't feel that communication over web servers was ever a particularly elegant technology anyway. And we aren't doing this to get rich. We're doing this for you, the people - because everybody else just wants to use you to further their own empire building and delusions of grandeur.

Anyway, we're starting over with zot, and are freed from any prior constraints and compatibility issues. This lets use explore some technologies which we wouldn't have before when we were trying to stay somewhat within standard and accepted protocols and maintaining a level of compatibility with the rest of the free web. There are no longer any rules of the game (and there is some urgency, because the free web is at risk of vanishing completely if we aren't here to defend it). 

So we're starting a new game, and we're making some new rules. As always, we will publish detailed protocol documentation in the public domain before we ever write a line of code. That's just how we roll.  

In the meantime, DFRN is not elegant, and it's a bit cumbersome, but it bloody well works and has strong privacy (which is more than anybody can say for the Diaspora and StatusNet protocols). So we'll use it for a while longer while we work through the issues of easier mobility and ensuring that whatever we come up with has the same "dial-tone" reliability we have today.

Then we'll tell you all about zot2. In the meantime, we still support a number of protocols and communications channels and will maintain compatibility with older DFRN clients (going back to version 1) as long as is necessary; and will of course maintain communications compatibility with other networks if they let us

Zot is dead. Long live zot!
15 comments show more
Thomas Willingham
2 years ago
I think I preferred no communication to misrepresentative and disingenuous communication.

The bottom half of Diaspora pods have 80%+ federation rates. The top half have 80%+ failure rates. (From the stats at

True, if you were on a single server pod and you had a lot of contacts that'd slow down too - but we're talking the tens of thousands, which just doesn't happen.

You build mega-pods, you fail.
Nils Reichert
2 years ago
Nils Reichert tagged Mike's status with #zot