Timothy's Blog

A day in the life of a creative filmmaker

Mastodon and Decentralized Social Media

October 28th, 2019 by

I think the future of social media is in distributed computing. If you think about it, Facebook is not going to let up on its privacy policy anytime soon and they don’t have a good reason to (government’s not going to make them). It makes sense that you wouldn’t want one corporation or government in charge of your social media feed. I don’t know of a good example of this kind of site right now that could replace Facebook but there are examples of this kind of technology out there. One example is a very Twitter-like distributed social media platform that is hosted on private servers, called Mastodon (after the elephant-like creature now extinct).

I used Mastodon for a while but the server I was on did not have people interested in the same stuff I was so I quit. But I’m getting back into and I think it could be a good platform to build on. It allows you to host your own server and not be dependent on any one company or organization to host the servers. It also has some interesting features such as 500 character “toots” (similar to tweets), local timelines (where everybody sees what everybody else on the same server posts), federated timelines (kinda like group following), and lots of little features that add up to a better whole.

Mastodon Logo

If you’re interested in joining a Mastodon “instance” you can do so at https://joinmastodon.org/. The thing is to remember joining is like getting an email address – you are stuck with that instance unless you get a new account on another server.

But the point is I think distributed computing not run by any company or government is a great idea and may be what takes off in the next few years. And if you think about it, email is a distributed technology too because you can send an email from Yahoo to Gmail and it will work fine, but that’s not the case with most social networks these days. Also, Facebook and Twitter do have a pretty strong hold on their audiences right now. But that could change as they continue to ignore their users pleas for privacy.

For my part I’m going to give Mastodon another try and see where it leads. Nice thing about Mastodon is that you automatically have a built in user base that sees all your toots (called local timeline). I’ll get back to you and tell you how it goes.

By the way, if you’re into programming you can request to join my server at https://x0r.be and I’ll be able to see your toots! But of course, not everybody is interested in programming. But there’s a fair number of servers out there and there are some general purpose ones that cover every subject. The thing about starting with a new social network is that you got to be motivated because not everybody wants to switch.

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