Bluesky is really, really fun.
Yes, the platform is basically just Twitter but it is decentralized. And yes, Jack Dorsey-backed Bluesky is just one of many services simulation how Twitter look now. But after spending a few hours on Bluesky since receiving the beta invite this week, the service is by far the place I’m most happy.
Similar to Mastodon, Bluesky is a unified social network, which, at its most basic level, means that users can participate through different providers rather than a huge centralized network. The easiest comparison is email: If you have Gmail, you can email someone on Apple’s iCloud, and they can reply to you.
Bluesky allows you to choose from different hosting providers. When I joined the app on Tuesday, I chose the default, which is Bluesky’s own system. (There is an option to join other providers, but I don’t know what options are there or how to set them up. This could be user error or ignorance.) From there, I set my username, which looks very much like a domain – jaypeters.bsky. social – and I’ll talk about that later.
“It was beautiful here.”
When I first got to the “Following” feed, it was empty, but as I explored more, it didn’t take me long to discover that Bluesky already has a very active user base that now handles streaming newbies like myself. Very soon in my Bluesky journey, I found a job from Jay Graber, CEO of Bluesky, that helped me understand what I was in for.
“It’s been a great scene here, so we emailed 5,000 people from our waiting list, say hi when you see them streaming!” Graber Books. In a reply, Graber added a “contact-heavy subgraph of just-joined Twitter power users, 5k supporters who gave us their email and filled out a form 🤝”
Scrolling through the What’s Hot section that day was a mix of simple internet fun.
- Someone quoted Graber to apologize for the “scene stuff” and to encourage new users to jump into conversations.
- Someone wrote “Goats, Daddy” with a picture of two goats.
- Many people have shared pictures of “This is where I post from”. Much seemed serious, like a comfortable room and a little house; Others were not like the image of a crocodile.
Somehow, someone followed me within a minute of me joining the platform. Minutes later, a few other users also followed me. It turns out I’m not special; They all already follow over 20,000 people, so they probably just follow every new account when they join.
Bluesky has been feeling great all week. My feed wasn’t full of angry posts about HBO Max changing to Max, for example — instead, the people I follow seemed more invested in keeping Bluesky’s positive culture current. Graber posted why Bluesky hasn’t launched yet “against Jack’s wishes” until the team builds the moderation tools. On Friday, people were posting pictures of their bookshelves: “shelves.” He was Fun to scroll.
Bluesky’s challenge will be to maintain his positive environment, and this is what characterizes his federal system – AT protocol – it was designed to do. The protocol is still in development, but Bluesky’s stated focus on it is decentralized social networking, algorithmic selection, and mobile accounts. This means that, maybe one day, I’ll theoretically be able to hang around in a domain that no one else in a Bluesky app is also using, choose an algorithm that serves fewer posts, and if I want to leave, bring my account and followers with me to another app. (It’s worth noting that Twitter owner Elon Musk has expressed interest in letting you choose your Twitter algorithm, but we’ll see if that actually happens.)
Bluesky’s moderate tools could also be key to the platform’s future. The organization wants to allow you to apply custom filters and ratings and even rely on preferred third parties to do the work for you, which could allow users to better tailor their social feed to what they need. “Social centric sites use tagging to implement moderation — we believe this piece can be decoupled, open to third-party innovation, and configured with user agency in mind,” Graber wrote in a blog post. Anyone should be able to create or subscribe to third-party moderation ratings.
Network Domain Name System also doubles as a useful verification service of sorts. My current setup could mean that one day, for example, I might be able to get @jay.peters.theverge.com to show that I’m a working journalist at the edge. Or I can link my domain to my Bluesky account to prove that I am who I say I am. If this system launches, it could solve a lot of the validation and moderation issues that other platforms have to deal with.
Bluesky currently seems to be a simpler time on the internet
To me, Bluesky currently feels like a simpler time online. It’s a feed-based social network with a community of at least 20,000 people, which means there’s a lot of activity and conversation, but so far, I haven’t seen much toxicity or people racing to criticize people in quoted tweets. It feels like a platform where people hang out and talk to each other.
It’s too early to say if Bluesky and the AT protocol will see the same kind of activity as things like Mastodon and ActivityPub protocol. but now? I just really enjoy the vibes in my Bluesky feed.
“Friendly food geek. Communicator. Hipster-friendly creator. Bacon evangelist. Zombie nerd. Pop culture advocate. Beer aficionado.”