24th April 2017
I’ve been discontented with Twitter in the past year or two, as the company tries to become profitable it stabs the developers that made it great, ever so subtly and deeper as the gap between the official client(s) and the once leading client applications widens ever further. Not just that, the lack of action from abuse, and also the wide open nature of the platform leads to a huge spread of information, mis-information and randomness that isn’t worth the time to filter through.
I’ve been discontented with Facebook, for, well, forever. It badly attempts to insert itself between the open internet and eyeballs in a reductive, arrogant fashion that seeks to make us, the users, the product much the same way Google has done with our search data for approaching two decades.
I’ve been discontented with Linked In because of the endless (yes, I mean ENDLESS! And then some…) spamming EMails, notifications and requests to connect from random people you’ve never met, in a so-called business network. Between this and advertising it’s becoming a random wasteland of junk not worth using either.
There have been many attempts to pull off alternatives for micro-blogging that aren’t as personal as Facebook, that are decentralised, like EMail. App.Net doesn’t count because it wasn’t decentralised, but there’s been GNU Social and more recently Tent that I enjoyed using until the wheels fell off due to multiple API changes breaking then re-breaking client applications and a pivot that effectively ended its usefulness for the masses and the majority of users lost interest.
And then there is Mastodon. This is a sorta-new-kid-but-not-really on the block and it’s gathering a lot of steam in somewhat of a perfect storm of discontent with the existing platforms. I won’t list off everything about it since that’s been done elsewhere, rather I’ll highlight the current short-comings, how I’m intending to use it and why.
First some light reading…
- Welcome to Mastodon
- Two Reasons Why Organizations Should Switch to Self Hosting Social Media
- Learning From Twitters Mistakes
- The Power To Build Communities: A Response to Mark Zuckerberg
I particularly enjoyed the last link regarding Facebook.
I’ve spent a few hours and put together my own instance and taking a nod from TEN I’ve called it the engineered.space because it’s meant to be a space for engineers to hang out. It’s free, it’s never going to be huge-huge so it will have things that you can’t get anywhere else:
- A local stream from all users on the instance
- It’s free and has no advertising
- You can use your account to follow anyone else on Mastodon outside the engineered.space instance
In order to keep the local stream as focused as possible I recommend only boosting content that fits within the rules. To further support this, it’s currently going to be semi-closed, and by that I mean it’s technically closed to random drive-by sign-ups. However if you’re an engineer and you want to participate directly on engineered.space and want to have an account there, send me:
- Your preferred EMail address
- Your preferred user name on the instance
- Send either via EMail to email@example.com
- OR send via Direct Message me on Twitter though that seems odd, in retrospect…
Since Mastodon is an open source software project, there are many people excited about it’s capabilities and are actively contributing to its future. One of the many features that it lacks currently, I’m confident will be available in coming weeks and months:
- Deleting accounts yourself (currently if you want out, EMail me and I’ll delete the account on the instance)
- Invitation sign-up Links OR Moderated sign-up staging
- Easier history backup/export/import process when shifting instances
In terms of the web interface it’s really quite impressive given its stage of development. I’ll use that on my iPad Pro and my desktop at work and it’s really very good. If you’re looking for native applications on Mobile currently there are:
- Amaroq for iOS (I use this one and it’s pretty good but iPhone only for the moment)
- Tusky for Android
- Mastodon for Windows Phone
Of course it’s early days but you have to start somewhere and given that Mastodon is only 7 months into its existence at nearly 1/2 million accounts across 1,300+ instances, I’d say there’s some interest and it’s worth a shot.
If you’re looking for me I’m @firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow me there on Mastodon. I’ll run the Engineered Space server for as long as I can fund it, and if it grows too big I may reconsider this but for now at least, the door is open. Drop me a line and let me know if you’re interested.