Like Mastodon and other Fediverse platforms, Lemmy is composed of interconnected servers (or instances). There’s no central authority, and each instance is in charge of its own moderation and how it interacts with other instances.
This lack of central authority is the big selling point for any fediverse platform. No billionaire can suddenly swoop in and buy a fediverse platform’s servers because no single entity owns them. And any instance that starts showing ads is just going to get blocked by everyone else, theoretically reducing the desire for corporations to swoop in and grab your data. Likewise, if one instance gets overrun by trolls, they’ll quickly get blocked.
Here’s a decent primer on the Fediverse in general if you’re looking to learn more: https://alirezahayati.com/2022/11/09/how-does-fediverse-work/
Putting all that to one side, let’s talk about the platform itself.
So I first tried out Lemmy a little while before the Reddit blackouts occurred. And to be clear, this was a terrible idea.
As far as I can tell, Lemmy was essentially a ghost town before the Reddit migration, occupied only by a handful of enthusiasts. When the fed-up Redditors turned up on mass, most servers quickly collapsed. I managed to log in but was never two clicks away from something freezing.
A few days later, the servers had stabilized. Furthermore, the number of instances, communities, and users had grown exponentially. But more importantly, they’ve stuck around, with the platform developers noting that “The number of monthly active users has increased over 25 times, from 1,000 to 27,000 at time of writing [2023-06-17]”
Of course, these numbers pale in comparison to Reddit. And, as a result, you’re not going to get the kind of super-niche communities or content you see on Reddit just yet. Nonetheless, the community appears to be bustling, and I suspect it will only grow further in the coming months.
But where there is growth, there will be growing pains.
By the developers’ own admission, Lemmy is still plagued by slow database queries, security vulnerabilities, and issues with their API. And features such as the ability to migrate between instances and decent third-party apps are a long way off without contributors.
Now seems like a good time to also remind people that the fediverse is not some kind of utopia where security concerns don’t exist.
When you join a Lemmy instance, you’re putting your trust in whoever is running that server. Sure, it’s a safer bet than handing your data over to a corporation with a motive to collect that data, but you should still be careful. Also, there is no end-to-end encryption on the fediverse. And there are also no assurances that you’ll be able to fully delete anything you post. So, as with all social media, don’t go posting stuff you wouldn’t want a future employer or your server admin to see.
In any case, these platforms give me some hope that the social web might yet change for the better.
(One final note, since I wrote this a couple weeks back, I have seen some talk online about the Lemmy developer’s potentially problematic political leanings. I do not know enough about this at present to comment, and it is debatable if such a thing matters. But I think it would be remiss not to at least inform my readers to do their research first to see if they are comfortable with what they are signing up to.)
As a writer, I perhaps always gravitate to the more blogging-centric sites on the small web. But there’s a wealth of artistic projects too. So, over the next few weeks, I’m going to dedicate some space to promoting these types of sites, with a particular focus on lesser-known and quirky projects.
This one’s a fairly new site with parts still under construction (though that’s pretty much the case wherever you go on the small web) featuring the work of a self-taught digital artist. There is a lot of other stuff going on here too.
Looking at the numbers, I’m amazed this site doesn’t have a bigger following. But I’m sure that will change soon enough.
By the way, the webmaster also recently suffered a broken arm, so I’m sure any good vibes sent their way will be much appreciated.
This website features a gallery of art curated by a ‘Joaqin Mourdelles de Bonraque,’ with three galleries by three artists by the names of M. Dalita, P. Rete, and L. Vaiso.
Of course, this could all be the doodles of one person using aliases (or several people using aliases). I’m not sure, but that’s kind of the magic of these places. In any case, expect lots of colorful pencil drawings.
By the way, do artists have pen names? Maybe paintbrush names?
Interestingly the site is available in Swedish, English, and French. It also links to another website called Moonpaw (which is in Swedish) that features art by an artist known as Lovisa.
Some sites on Neocities are works of art in their own right. And that is certainly the case with Ongezell, the website of a developer, graphic designer, and 2d & 3d artist.
There’s a lot going on here, even on the homepage (which put enough pressure on my laptop’s CPU to immediately kick the fan on, so do be aware of that) alone. But while it’s not the easiest to navigate, you’ll likely love getting lost amongst all the various projects.
You’ll also find some blog posts, links to elsewhere, and some project lain stuff in there (which I’ve come to understand is quite clearly everyone’s favorite anime on the small web)
Throw me a line if you know of some other art that should get featured here.
In short, I find it to be one of the few “creepy online story” channels with a knack for finding truly disturbing tales without resorting to dodgy pseudo-scientific analysis and 4Chan creepypastas. The stories are great, the editing is quality, and the narrator hits the sweet spot regarding tone.
However, after watching Atrocity Guides’ most recent upload, ‘The Enlightenment Fraud of Zen Master Rama,’ I felt like I had to give this channel another shout-out because this video was fantastic.
While the story itself was no more or less interesting than her previous videos, the level of production and editing has increased tenfold over just the last few uploads alone. We’ve got original scores, high-profile interviews, and a near-perfect unfolding of the narrative. Also, everything is woven together in a professional documentarian manner.
A “leveling up” of production is perhaps to be expected of any YouTuber that garners a decent enough following. But to me, it now feels like the channel has ascended from “good for lone YouTuber” content to a level closer to television-ready documentary (although, arguably, we’ve long since passed that distinction being relevant).
In any case, I highly recommend giving it a watch.
If you are following through RSS or email, you may have noticed I didn’t send out a link blog last week. That’s because I decided to spend some time making what I felt were some much-needed changes to the site.
If you’ve been visiting here for a while, you’ve probably noticed that it has changed quite a few times throughout its brief history. But while I’ve got some additional things I wish to add in the coming weeks, I think I’ve finally reached a point where I’m happy with the overall design of the place.
The site now just about hits the sweet spot for me between my minimalist and retro aesthetics. Or at least, I’m happy with what I’ve achieved considering my somewhat dire web design skills.
That said, I’ll almost certainly always be fixing up the place.
Speaking of missed editions, a surge in freelance work and my traveling means I’ll probably leave a fortnight till writing one of these again.
Until then, if you are desperate for some reading, you might enjoy this essay I recently retroactively uploaded to the site: