November 7, 2022

A Roundup of Mastodon Mentions

Interesting week for Mastodon given Twitter’s latest circus show. Here’s some interesting points I came across throughout the last few days:

Exploring Mastodon:

Indeed I’d expect that most people won’t use Mastodon. The essence of this federated social future isn’t the software the instances run on, but the protocol they use to communicate (ActivityPub). Hosting services will run different kinds of software, designed more with the needs of a hosting service in mind.

Taking a look at Mastodon:

Twitter can’t really be replaced with anything else, because everyone’s Twitter experience is unique to them and their community. […] With email, it doesn’t matter which provider you go with. Thanks to universal SMTP standards that every server uses, you can exchange messages with everyone else. This is the same with Mastodon. You’re not siloed into a single instance, and you can follow people from any other instance.

Mastodon is the new Google Reader:

Mastodon is to ActivityPub what Google Reader is to RSS. Google Reader wasn’t the only RSS reader, but at its height it was the biggest. Mastodon isn’t the only ActivityPub application, but it is the biggest.

I agree with the narrative in which the ActivityPub protocol is a” next big something™ being brewed here. Mastodon is just the biggest (small) application at the moment.

Mastodon is not ready for me:

I have managed my own email server since the 90s, but I do not feel that the system administration effort required to maintain a private Mastodon instance would be justified at this point: there is not even a Debian package! Mastodon either needs to become much simpler to maintain or become much more socially important, and so far it is neither.

The Elon Gambit:

So the exodus will continue until morale improves, but mostly as far as the exiles are concerned. Many will come back, or post on multiple networks, or just do what normal people do and use different forums for different things.

Colin Devroe:

I have to admit, I’m surprised that just a few tens of thousands of new users can make Mastodon underperform.

Elon and Twitter:

A few of my friends — maybe 10, which actually isn’t a small number for this situation — have declared the future is Mastodon and that I should come and join. I looked at Mastodon years ago, and I took a fresh look this week, and no, it’s not a place I’m interested in moving. It is, and always will be, the linux on the desktop, this time for sure” of social networks.

Still, if you grade Mastodon on a curve with Twitter, it clearly is far from ready to be a replacement. But that’s the rub, it isn’t a replacement. The Linux on the desktop burn is on point, but not for the reasons most people say.

True, Linux and ChromeOS together have an inmaterial share of the desktop market. But Linux as the underpinning of Android, is the most popular OS in mobile. Maybe that’s ActivityPub reason-to-be, the next something.

But, but, but, I keep seeing positive posts regarding Mastodon:

It looks like I’m moving to Mastodon:

I’ve been using Twitter since November 2006—wow, that’s 16 years! I’ve accumulated 42,804 followers there. It’s been really good to me, and I’ve invested a lot of work generating content there to feed the machine. It’s also attracting very much the kind of people I want to hang out with. Mastodon is, unsurprisingly, entirely populated by nerds. But the variety of nerds is highly pleasing to me. I’ve been checking in on the #introduction hashtag and I’m seeing artists, academics, writers, historians. It’s not just programmers. The variety of interest areas on Twitter is the thing I’ll miss most about it, so seeing that start to become true on Mastodon too is a huge relief.

All said, there’s still a significan uptick in Mastodon activity, and it feels like a new baseline has been reached. One that isn’t a Twitter replacement, but does feel like a geeky water-cooler with some rough edge… just like Twitter 15 years ago.


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