Flipboard: A Pivot, But Is the Crowd Impressed?

February 26, 2024

green-dino_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb humanoid. No smart software required.

Twitter’s (X’s) downward spiral is leading more interest in decentralized social networks like Mastodon, BlueSky, and Pixelfed. Now a certain news app is following the trend. TechCrunch reports, “Flipboard Just Brought Over 1,000 of its Social Magazines to Mastodon and the Fediverse.” One wonders: do these "flip" or just lead to blank pages and dead ends? Writer Sarah Perez tells us:

“After sensing a change in the direction that social media was headed, Flipboard last year dropped support for Twitter/X in its app, which today allows users to curate content from around the web in ‘magazines’ that are shared with other readers. In Twitter’s place, the company embraced decentralized social media, and last May became the first app to support BlueSky, Mastodon, and Pixelfed (an open source Instagram rival) all in one place. While those first integrations allowed users to read, like, reply, and post to their favorite apps from within Flipboard’s app, those interactions were made possible through APIs.”

2 25 pivot

An enthusiastic entrepreneur makes a sudden pivot on the ice. The crowd is not impressed. Good enough, MidJourney.

In December Flipboard announced it would soon support the Fediverse’s networking protocol, ActivityPub. That shift has now taken place, allowing users of decentralized platforms to access its content. Flipboard has just added 20 publishers to those that joined its testing phase in December. Each has its own native ActivityPub feed for maximum Fediverse discoverability. Flipboard’s thematic nature allows users to keep their exposure to new topics to a minimum. We learn:

“The company explains that allowing users to follow magazines instead of other accounts means they can more closely track their particular interests. While a user may be interested in the photography that someone posts, they may not want to follow their posts about politics or sports. Flipboard’s magazines, however, tend to be thematic in nature, allowing users to browse news, articles, and social posts referencing a particular topic, like healthy eating, climate tech, national security, and more.”

Perez notes other platforms are likewise trekking to the decentralized web. Medium and Mozilla have already made the move, and Instagram (Meta) is working on an ActivityPub integration for Threads. WordPress now has a plug-in for all its bloggers who wish to post to the Fediverse. With all this new interest, will ActivityPub be able to keep (or catch) up?

Our view is that news aggregation via humans may be like the young Bob Hope rising to challenge older vaudeville stars. But motion pictures threaten the entire sector. Is this happening again? Yep.

Cynthia Murrell, February 26, 2024


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