federation is hard != federation is impossible
The author’s argument that standard protocols like HTTP and SMTP have stayed static for 25 years is actually an argument against his theory. When you compare websites or email in 1995 or 2000 to what we have today, one can clearly see that the manner and type of information exchange can evolve rapidly over a static protocol.
In some ways, yes, the static protocol with it’s decades old built in assumptions can make it harder to write a client and/or server, but in many other ways, it gives you a very solid base on which to build incrementally more complex interactions and push the protocol in ways the authors never intended.
I’m still not buying that argument.
Just to start with this, to make it very clear: Federation does not necessarily mean multiple implementations.
There is no reason federation would require that.
Now, I am totally on-board with the fact that XMPP is terrible, but…
So it really seems like, if you want to make a federated system (with alternative implementations):
As soon as you let other people host server software, you get several implementations, at least “the old version” and “the new version”, because you cannot force people to update (nor can you expect that everyone would update in any reasonable amount of time).
There’s also a video (2019): “36C3 - The ecosystem is moving” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nj3YFprqAr8