Open Thinkering


Month: August 2022

Thinking about a Fediverse instance focused on fitness / exercise

TL;DR: would a Fediverse instance for fitness / exercise be popular enough to be sustainable? How would it work? More questions at the end of the post!

Image generated by DALL-E 2 of a fitness social network

As I mentioned on this blog recently, I’ve rejoined Strava. It’s pretty much the go-to social network for people into various types of fitness and exercise, with most of my network either being runners (like me), cyclists, or swimmers. Or, of course, a combination of all of this and more.

I’m wondering whether a federated version of the social elements based on a Fediverse platform might be interesting to people. By the results of a casual question via Mastodon this afternoon, I think it might…

Some history and context

In the early days of social networks, there was a trend of lifestreaming, where you’d literally share a firehouse of everything you were up to, everywhere. So if you did exercise every day, that would go on (for example) your Twitter stream, along with books you were reading, thoughts you were having, etc.

We’re in a different environment these days, with more awareness of privacy concerns, and even general-purpose social networks tending to skew towards certain types of content. For example, Twitter is more more about sharing news and politics than a decade ago. Instagram is less about generic ‘photo sharing’, more about following influencers and (from what I gather) buying what they recommend.

The situation on the Fediverse is different. This is mainly because there are not only lots of different kinds of software platform that make it up, but many different instances of each platform within the wider network. Niche interests for geeks are well catered for, and you can find everything from instances for people interested in co-operatives (like which I’m on), people into Open Source software (like which I used to be on), to people interested in movies and obsolete technology (like!)

What there seems to be an absolute dearth of, however, are instances related to fitness and exercise. This is a real shame, as I know there’s plenty of people tracking their activity in a multitude of different ways. Having a community around you to both compete with and encourage you is important. It’s about recognition of effort β€” which you don’t just get when you’re using an app that merely tracks your activity.

Some features we’d need

Strava is, as far as I’m aware, the mostly widely used social network related to fitness and exercise. I use it by connecting my Garmin account, which takes data from my smartwatch, to Strava. This is posted to a feed (with various privacy controls) whereby connections can ‘give kudos’ and/or comment on each activity. There are competitive elements based on sections, which is motivating. But just someone giving you a thumbs-up for having done the longest run you’ve ever done is sometimes enough.

While it would replicate everything that Strava provides, I’m wondering whether a specific Fediverse instance for fitness / exercise would be of interest to people? I can certainly see myself having an account where I just post such things and have discussions with others about both activities and gear.

It could just start with people posting whatever they feel comfortable sharing. For example, Strava automatically puts a geofence around my home address for privacy, so I would probably share this kind of thing that can be generated by my Garmin app:

I don’t tend to take my phone running, so I don’t take photos, but you can imagine that being a sweaty selfie!


The things I yet to figure out are:

  1. Is it worth my time to pursue this?
  2. Who else might be interested in moderation?
  3. Which platform would we use?
  4. What features do we need to turn on/off?
  5. Which languages would we support?
  6. How can we make it welcoming to people of all types, while allowing for an element of competition?
  7. Are there any custom features which would help differentiate it from just a vanilla Fediverse instance?

Answers and suggestions welcome in the comments below! πŸƒ 🚴 🏊

Weeknote 34/2022

AI-generated image of person sitting at desk with laptop and coffee

I returned to work this week on Thursday, after three weeks away.

At the start of the year I agreed with my wife Hannah that in 2022 I’d take most of April, August, and December off work. That cadence is working well so far: three months of work followed by (at least) three weeks away. In addition, I do most of my WAO work Monday-Thursday, followed by side projects and finishing stuff up on Fridays, and take both Bank Holidays and the occasional day off in half-terms. All told, I reckon I’ll do around 200 days’ work this year. This is absolutely a reason why co-owning your own business is amazing.

A few new bits of work came in while I was away, so I’ve been following up about those. We should also hear back about the NLnet grant the week after next, but in the meantime David’s been working away on Things are looking good.

As I mentioned last week, I accidentally ran a stop-start half-marathon distance (21km) after getting lost in France. A week later, I thought I’d have a go at a purposeful, continuous effort and see if I could manage it. I nearly did, managing 18.22km (and all of the uphill sections!) before my hip flexors just couldn’t take any more. For some reason, I planned a route that included a killer descent and hill climb half-way through. I also set off too fast, at my 10k pace.

I might try again next week. Oh, and I’m back on Strava if you want to connect with me there.

Talking of social networks, I switched from back to for reasons outlined in the post below. It was one of four I’ve published here since my last weeknote:

Over at Thought Shrapnel I published:

I’m currently reading Invisible Women: exposing data bias in a world designed for men which Laura bought for me after we discussed it on a recent podcast episode. It’s incredible, and contains both data and insights that I wish I’d known when I was younger. Highly recommended.

Two of the blog posts listed above are my reflections and favourite quotes from books I’ve read as well.

Our kids don’t go back to school until a week on Wednesday, so I’ll be ramping up work next week after the Bank Holiday. We’re entering into what I’ve only in recent years realised is one of my favourite months: September. I’m hoping to do some more microadventuring, like last year!

Image created by DALL-E 2 using prompt ‘sitting at desk with laptop and coffee digital art’

Returning to logo

After time away from social media while on holiday, I’ve come to the decision to leave and return to You can now find and follow me at [email protected]!

There are several reasons for this decision:

  • Home timeline β€” Fosstodon has grown in membership quite a lot over the past couple of years, which is great in and of itself. However, the ‘local’ timeline is important to me, and as Fosstodon has grown I’ve found it’s less relevant to my context.
  • Reply-guys β€” there are some people (mostly middle-aged white guys) who seem to think it’s their duty in life to point out that a particular thing isn’t 100% FLOSS (Free, Libre, Open Source Software). There’s only so much of this I can tolerate.
  • Co-operation β€” while I’m still very much interested in making the world more open in every way (including Open Source) I think what the world needs more than anything is more co-operation. I’m a founding member of a co-op, and part of a network of co-ops. This is how the world gets better and, right now, I want to have my home timeline full of ways we can do that.

I was part of for a year from 2017-18. I left after some drama, which was ultimately resolved. In my interactions with the team while applying for membership, I’ve been informed that it was very much a learning experience and things are in place now (see the wiki!) to prevent such things happening again.

For those keeping track, I’ve now gone β†’ β†’ β†’ It’s easy to migrate accounts, although posts don’t come with you (I delete them every three months anyway!)

Many thanks to Kev Quirk and Mike Stone for setting up Fosstodon, and for the excellent moderation team! I’m looking forward being a member of the community again and, of course, still being part of the Fediverse 🀘