[[ActivityPub]] is too hard for most people to implement on a whim. What would it take to allow developers to create something that sits on the [[fediverse]] inside of an afternoon?
ActivityPub, while very useful, is a noisy protocol. Instances on the fediverse need to have a way to handle message-passing and caching, which can increase the footprint of services that sit on it, and make it harder to get started building a solution. As a result, developers can spend days or weeks working on the underlying plumbing for ActivityPub, and spending a lot of money on infrastructure, before they can even reliably start coding with the protocol.
Bottom line: it's difficult and expensive to get started, which limits the number of entrants who can build something, and ongoing maintenance is a pain. And everyone who builds on the fediverse has to establish the same plumbing, which is a waste of collected effort.
This is particularly important with the introduction of [[Threads]], the social network from [[Meta]] that will support ActivityPub out of the box. In effect, ActivityPub will be its only meaningful API, at least for the time being. There are hundreds of millions of Threads users. Even if startups and developers don't care that much about the fediverse, they may well care about interacting with that userbase. And it's hard and expensive to do so.
Introducing Sup. (Hey, I have to call it something. Sup means "hi", but when you *sup* you also become *fed*. It's a playful name that speaks to both the social nature of online communities and the fediverse itself. Look, I'm bad at naming things, and esoteric puns is all I have.)
Sup is cloud infrastructure for the fediverse.
This API service allows anyone to spin up a fediverse back-end with its own custom domain, accessible via a RESTful API with easy-to-use libraries in popular languages. It handles all the message handling and caching transparently, charging on a per-instance and resource-use basis.
Developers can focus on building functionality and querying existing fediverse data, getting something up and running in minutes instead of days or weeks.
Its code is open source and portable, so applications don't need to be stuck on Sup. A startup might start on the hosted service and then choose to self-host with no extra incurred cost from Sup. Cloud providers like [[AWS]] might choose to provide their own Sup hosting services based on the open source code, in partnership with Sup.
Sup is built by a team that lives and breathes open source principles, and has deep experience with ActivityPub and other open social web movements like the [[indieweb]]. It is organized as a worker-owned co-operative.
## Future growth
As more companies join Meta in establishing presences on the fediverse, they may choose to partner with platform like Sup in order to more quickly build their own platforms. It is anticipated that alongside other co-operative, activist, and hobbyist platforms, a number of startups and larger companies will join them. Sup will be the easiest way for them to add fediverse support to their products. In turn, through internal investment as the product grows, the open source libraries built by Sup will make it easier for others to build fediverse applications, whether hosted or self-hosted.
In addition to hosting, services will include moderation and trust & safety support, threat protection, and a convening space for platform developers and community owners.
The intention is not to raise venture capital funding to power this growth: this is not a traditional tech corporation. Instead, some initial funding from non-traditional sources may be sought to build a prototype; developers will be drawn from the existing ActivityPub community. Everyone who is paid to develop Sup will have the opportunity to be a worker-owner, and customers can buy into membership of the co-operative also. Software will be licensed in such a way that should the Sup co-operative cease to adequately support its services, another entity (or entities) can take its place. Finally, once an appropriate level of funding is achieved, Sup will sponsor diverse members to work full-time in the ActivityPub working group.
Sup will therefore become the easiest way to build on the fediverse, while being fully aligned with its principles: a facilitator, not a free rider.