So far in my ongoing project to IndieWebify my web presence, I’ve upgraded my WordPress site with IndieWeb plugins, installed a blogroll, and subscribed to a bunch of indie bloggers in a modern feed reader (I’m trialling Inoreader, but I’m also still using Feedly – both are great choices). Now I’m curious to see how social media fits into this Open Web picture. After all, my manifesto for AltPlatform was partly based on finding a way to route around the big Walled Garden social networks: Facebook, Twitter and all the rest.
Let’s get this out of the way right at the start: Mastodon is not a Twitter killer. It’s more like Twitter crossed with Reddit, plus it’s open source. But while Mastodon is not going to take over the world, it does have promise as a community platform. Here’s why…
I first came across Mastodon in early April, via a Vice article. It was described as “a kinder, nicer, decentralized open source version of Twitter.” Curious to see what the fuss was about, I jumped over to Mastodon to check it out. I immediately came across its first quirk: Mastodon isn’t one single social network, like Twitter. Instead it’s made up of multiple “instances,” each one hosted on a different server. Indeed the most popular instance, Mastodon.social, wasn’t accepting new users when I arrived – due to its sudden ascension to Internet fame. So I had to sign up with another instance, in this case Mastodon.technology.