In response to Joe Biden and the White House enabling ActivityPub federation via Threads, a number of people asked: “Why didn’t the White House just self-host their own Mastodon server?”

Here’s some very basic musings on what it would take for that to happen. and what some of the hurdles are. Don’t consider it a definitive answer, but a jumping-off point.

  • kbal
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    24 months ago

    Could the US Government Run a Lemonade Stand?

    Why would anyone want this?

    The US government has made a habit of providing lemonade to the people of our fair city. Maybe selling it at Walmart is not the best conceivable option for such a large and important undertaking. You’d think the government could get its act together sufficiently to run its own lemonade stand. Maybe the Department of Information could hand out their weekly flyers there too.

    Some people don’t like going in to Walmart, some resent their every visit being recorded on the store surveillance cameras, and some people are banned from Walmart. So it might be better, democratically speaking, for the government to run its own lemonade stand.

    Technical and Organizational Hurdles

    Given the massive complexity and funding challenges of running a lemonade stand, we can assume that it would take several years to set up and that it would cost of several billion dollars. There may be requirements for new banking regulations, new government departments, NASA will probably want to get involved, and there will need to be user training and onboarding programs to make sure everyone is well prepared for serving and receiving lemonade.

    Policy

    Without the convenience of relying on Walmart to provide its reassuringly friendly and reliable security enforcement, we’ll need new procedures to deal with the kinds of hate speech, CSAM, terrorism, sedition, treason, weapons smuggling, drug trafficking, and moral hazard that are very likely to occur at any lemonade stand.

    It will take a large team of lawyers to come up with reasonable ways to run a lemonade stand without violating the 8th amendment.

    It’s Still Worth Trying

    Sure is a lot of work, so we’d better get started.

    • Sean TilleyOPM
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      34 months ago

      I dunno, federated communication systems have a very different utility than lemonade stands. 😅