Signup Fatigue, Artists and Cara

| #activitypub | #bsky | #cara | #enshittification | #fediverse |

Something has started happening recently and I’m going to attempt to drawstring a few things together here.


The Something is Cara. It’s a couple of years old now, an upstart haven for artists. It offers some great stuff – leaders who have proven themselves, a solid design, the attention of the industries that pay artists, and several features that artists love. Like a management-level anti-AI stance, though they leave the door open to ‘ethical AI’ should such a thing ever exist.

And they offer tools to confound AI, like Glaze, and soon, Nightshade.

Cara is, it seems, a great place for artists, especially good ones looking for connections and jobs.


ActivityPub is the connection protocol underlying the (I still hate the name) Fediverse. Mastodon, Pixelfed, WordPress, and all the other players which create interconnected social media. As an introduction for anyone who isn’t Permanently Online, maybe imagine subscription email with all the privacy controls of social media. You enter the address of a person you want to follow, and then, wherever your account lives, that person is now on your feed. That person can require authorization to follow, they can block or mute you, etc.

It’s beautiful and wonderful but has the downside of basically requiring you to live at one place, and choosing that place can be difficult. If you sign up with one of the major players (like you can probably rest easy, but that’s a giant server that makes it difficult to enjoy the community feel of a smaller server dedicated to a specific theme or hobby or whatever.

But the magic is the way that place you live can pull in all the posts from the people you follow, no matter where they are.


Coined by the prolific and very smart writer Cory Doctorow, enshittification is the word we now use to describe the apparently inevitable way that social media sites evolve, from making users the priority, to enticing the paying advertisers and making them the priority, and finally making a site that’s indispensable to both parties and wringing out every dollar before the inevitable collapse.

Facebook (and Instagram) is well into the last stage, Twitter’s way past that now. So users are looking for the new place to hang their hats. I like the Fediverse but it’s still awkward days for a lot of reasons, and I won’t re-hash them here. But the ActivityPub protocols are robust and the software built on them is getting better all the time.

Signup Fatigue

Which brings us to signup fatigue.

Things are changing, constantly, and one thing that’s increasingly common is an account for every place. Newspapers, video streaming, damn near everywhere you want to go shopping – basically everyone wants you to sign up, give away your details in order to simply exist online.

And it fucking sucks. I’m so over it.

The Point

Which brings me to the point. There weren’t many places that worked, and allowed artists to post their stuff and deliver to their audience, that didn’t simultaneously try to fuck the artists over, either with fees or algorithms or AI scraping bullshit. When Twitter died, I was very happy to see most artists start to settle on Bluesky as their replacement.

But before that transition was completed, Cara got noticed. A couple of years old now, it’s great for artists. But I’m tired. You’re probably tired. Signing up for a new site solely for the purpose of following artists just makes me more tired.

And then it occurred to me: ActivityPub. Subscribe to your favourite artists no matter where they post their stuff, get their posts in your feed on your terms at the place you love to live.

How awesome is that?

But Cara doesn’t do anything like that. No ActivityPub, no @Proto (the interconnect underlying Bluesky), no RSS, nothing like that.

I can only hope they do it soon ’cause I’m not yet at the point where I can muster the energy to sign up to a service just to see what my favourite artists are posting.

It’s a shit world. ActivityPub or something like it, on every site, would make it a little bit less shit.

[ Jun 5 2024 ]


Iā€™m just Nick šŸŽ¶

Jun 5 2024

@NFG thank god for reader mode

Got something to add?

Your Comment