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getting-started-on-mastodon.md (5135B)


      1 title: Getting Started On Mastodon
      2 author: Daniel Moch
      3 copyright: 2018, Daniel Moch
      4 date: 2018-10-18 06:29:45 UTC-04:00
      5 category: technology
      6 description: Tips for making the most of your experience on the Fediverse
      7 
      8 If I've identified a trend in my social media preferences, it's that I
      9 prefer not to use social media. That's not to say that I *don't* use it,
     10 just that I often feel conflicted when I do. On the one hand, this is
     11 where my friends are, and online networks have become a sort of
     12 pseudo-public square. (My choice of words there is deliberate ...
     13 "pseudo" as in "fake." I actually don't think online networks work as a
     14 true replacement for a public square, but that's a post for another
     15 time.) Skip out on social media altogether and you basically opt-out of
     16 a lot of opportunities to rub elbows with people, which, despite all of
     17 the good and the bad that entails, I still think is worthwhile.
     18 
     19 On the other hand, popular social networks are for-profit companies that
     20 invariably make their money by turning their users into their product,
     21 which is packaged and sold to online advertisers. I don't know about
     22 you, but to me that feels a bit dehumanizing. Sure, that model of
     23 business existed long before social networks did, at least in the
     24 abstract, but let's not kid ourselves---the way we're packaged and sold to
     25 advertisers is far different in the hands of social networks than at any
     26 time in history. Magazines and television networks could guess at the
     27 kinds of readers and viewers they attracted, and companies like Nielson
     28 could even provide some hard data to back up their guesswork, but what
     29 they didn't have was gobs of very personal data from which to draw
     30 conclusions about us. Apart from our reading/viewing habits, older forms
     31 of media had comparatively little to work with.
     32 
     33 (As an aside, this is why Google and Facebook are such valuable
     34 companies with such obscenely high market caps. It's not because of the
     35 value they provide to their users. It's because of the value they
     36 provide to advertisers. If what they were doing wasn't such a marked
     37 departure from the way ad targeting was done in the past, then these
     38 companies wouldn't be so financially successful. Don't buy the argument
     39 that what these companies do is the same as magazines and television
     40 networks before them.)
     41 
     42 So here's the bind, I can either participate in social media in order to
     43 "stay connected," and deal with the icky feeling of being someone's
     44 product, or I can opt-out and look like an increasingly irrelevant
     45 luddite, telling Facebook and Google to get off his lawn. But here we
     46 are, this is just the deal we're all being given, and there's nothing we
     47 can do about it, right?
     48 
     49 Wrong.
     50 
     51 Enter Mastodon
     52 ==============
     53 
     54 What's Mastodon? There are a few perspectives from which to tackle that
     55 question. To wit:
     56 
     57 1. Technically speaking, Mastodon is one of a few social media networks
     58    that participate in what's sometimes referred to as the "Fediverse,"
     59    which is a term used to describe the common technologies/protocols
     60    underpinning them. These protocols allow Mastodon and it's sister
     61    networks to be both decentralized and federated. Taken together, it's
     62    useful to think of federated, decentralized networks as being like
     63    email. I might have an email address with Google, but I can use that
     64    address to send email to anyone at any other email provider.  Loosely
     65    speaking, multiple providers/operators is what we mean by
     66    "decentralized;" and the fact that they can all talk to each other is
     67    what we mean by "federated."
     68 
     69 2. To users, Mastodon works a lot like Twitter. You can tweet (which in
     70    Mastodon is called---rather unfortunately in my opinion---tooting),
     71    retweet (or boost, in Mastodon parlance), and send "private" messages
     72    to other users. Toots in Mastodon can be longer than tweets, 500
     73    characters compared to 280. Hashtags work too.
     74 
     75 3. In terms of look-and-feel, the user experience on a typical Mastodon
     76    server's website reminds me a lot of Tweetdeck. That said, there are
     77    custom user interfaces available as well (not to mention mobile
     78    apps).
     79 
     80 Because of the above---and particularly because of Mastodon's
     81 decentralized, federated nature---there's a lot to recommend it.
     82 
     83 **Did I Mention No Ads?**
     84 
     85 Getting Started
     86 ===============
     87 
     88 I actually started this post because I wanted to have something to send
     89 to folks either asking what Mastodon is or who have just joined and are
     90 a bit confused about next steps. There's a lot already out there, so my
     91 approach with what remains will be to link to other introductions. If I
     92 find another page that fills a gap, I'll update this page with a link.
     93 
     94 Without further ado:
     95 
     96 1. [Mastodon
     97 FAQ](https://github.com/tootsuite/documentation/blob/master/Using-Mastodon/FAQ.md)
     98 – A more in-depth explainer of what Mastodon is and
     99    how it works.
    100 
    101 2. [Using
    102 Mastodon](https://github.com/tootsuite/documentation#using-mastodon) –
    103 Links to the above FAQ, and list of instances, a
    104    list of mobile apps, and a user guide
    105 
    106 3. [Guide to
    107 Mastodon](https://github.com/joyeusenoelle/GuideToMastodon/) – A more
    108 in-depth user guide and FAQ