Why isn't Bluesky a peer-to-peer network?

published on 2024/01/22

We ended up calling the AT Protocol a "federated" network because we couldn't think of a more appropriate term, but it's not really a kind of federation that anyone is familiar with. The peer-to-peer influence is too significant to neatly slot into that archetype. It also confuses with ActivityPub's model of federation which is now popularly understood.

To the chagrin of my coworkers, I've begun calling this model Internection, a portmandeu of "inter-connection." I like that term because it reminds me of the whimsical nerdiness of the seventies, when people started using the term "hyperlink" and not batting an eye. I think the team might light my apartment on fire if I don't stop though.

It might be even more accurate to call this a Cryptographic Data Web. Every user's data repository is, in essence, a website. The aggregating applications are, in essence, search spiders. The Web never quite mastered structured data for a variety of reasons; the AT Protocol embraces it fundamentally. Rather than fetching views from sites, you fetch records from users. Our aggregators produce data indexes rather than search pages.

You can see why we settled on the name AT Protocol. In the technical sense, AT — Authenticated Transfer — references the use of the cryptographic structures, data which is inherently authenticated. In the social sense, the "AT" is the "@", the sygil for referencing the network's core primitive: users.