This weekend, I joined a number of other folks in saying, “ok, it’s time to move to Mastodon.” I really don’t know if Mastodon will be “the” thing that replaces Twitter, but right now it fits my needs really well.
Turns out I have a few Mastodon accounts already, from the last, smaller freak out about Twitter back in the 2017/2018 timeframe. I don’t honestly remember the trigger - I’m sure it was something with Trump and his horrible followers that triggered the deeper exploration. It didn’t stick for me, though. I found it easier to just dial back my use of Twitter.
This time feels different. Don’t get me wrong - the core UX on Mastodon still has some challenges. That said, the implementations are more robust: the core principles are the same, but the software has kept marching forward.
There’s no better way to see this than by re-reading some articles from 2018 on Mastodon. So we’ll start there and then talk about some of the best things in the ecosystem I’ve found so far.
- Tired of Twitter? Join Me on Mastodon (Aug 2018): An optimistic article from Wired in 2018.
- The New Social Network Dodging Government Surveillance—and Nazis (Aug 2018): An interview with the founder of Mastodon talking about some of the challenges around moderation and the advantages and disadvantages of federation.
- Twitter rival Mastodon isn’t safe from online mobs either (Aug 2018): A more pessimistic article from the Verge. I had forgotten about the Wil Wheaton drama.
My current plans
I’ve joined Mastodon.social as my primary. I’m @Sujal on there, too. I also have a few other accounts as backups/placeholders as I better understand moderation policies. I’ll be dialing my Twitter usage down a lot, though not quite zero. I didn’t have time to undo the various bots and automation I have integrated into Twitter, including posts from this site, for example.
I’m leaving because I’m just tried of the Elon show. He likes stirring up controversy, and I just don’t care. My timeline on Twitter is half about him all the time, and it’s tiring. He’s making bad decisions about Twitter - the issues he’s acting surprised about have been there at least since 2018, as you can read above. I don’t want Twitter to die… but I just don’t want to be part of it anymore. It kinda sucks as an experience. His antics have also turned me off to Starlink and Tesla (hope his shareholders are good with that - again, I’m sure I’m not alone).
I’ve also setup a test Mastodon instance at tranquil.cloud so I can play with the software and get a feel for the software. If you’re looking for a server to play with, let me know what you’ve got in mind and let’s work together.
What’s better today?
The apps, for one thing. Looks like Tapbots is working on a Mastodon client. They make the best iOS client, Tweetbot, and everything I’ve heard is really good.
That said, I’m using Toot! on iOS. It’s really solid, and has some very fun UI flourishes that actually make the experience a little more fun without being too annoying.
I really would prefer a great Mac desktop app, but haven’t found one yet. Browser it is!
I’ve also started digging back into the underlying protocol behind the fediverse, ActivityPub. Ratified by the W3C in 2018, it’s what makes Mastodon federation work. Time to brush up. Some really interesting possibilities here if we could make it easier to run nodes. Could this be a backbone protocol for the little-m metaverse?
- ActivityPub on Mastodon: Mastodon’s docs on their ActivityPub implementation.
- ActivityPub at W3C: The W3C published spec.
- Tumblr adding support for ActivityPub: There’s an ActivityPub plugin for Wordpress, which is also owned by the company that owns Tumblr, Automattic.
- Flickr considering adding support for ActivityPub: Another fun platform from the heydey of Web2 considering the protocol.
- ‘Grand Scale Foot-Shooting’, With Anil Dash: Anil Dash has been one of the most consistent voices on this whole Elon/Twitter thing. Worth listening to.
Code & Tools
- DigitalOcean Mastodon Droplet: This is the foundation of my little standalone instance.