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commit 6c1df894d8612c8725d85e7617d8152d6ee888d1
parent 41adea817e82c520f500e47120affadf57d82bfc
Author: Daniel Moch <daniel@danielmoch.com>
Date:   Thu, 18 Oct 2018 20:33:34 -0400

Getting Started On Mastodon

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diff --git a/posts/2018/10/getting-started-on-mastodon.rst b/posts/2018/10/getting-started-on-mastodon.rst @@ -0,0 +1,111 @@ +.. title: Getting Started On Mastodon +.. slug: getting-started-on-mastodon +.. date: 2018-10-18 06:29:45 UTC-04:00 +.. category: technology +.. type: text + +If I've identified a trend in my social media preferences, it's that I +prefer not to use social media. That's not to say that I *don't* use it, +just that I often feel conflicted when I do. On the one hand, this is +where my friends are, and online networks have become a sort of +pseudo-public square. (My choice of words there is deliberate ... +"pseudo" as in "fake." I actually don't think online networks work as a +true replacement for a public square, but that's a post for another +time.) Skip out on social media altogether and you basically opt-out of +a lot of opportunities to rub elbows with people, which, despite all of +the good and the bad that entails, I still think is worthwhile. + +On the other hand, popular social networks are for-profit companies that +invariably make their money by turning their users into their product, +which is packaged and sold to online advertisers. I don't know about +you, but to me that feels a bit dehumanizing. Sure, that model of +business existed long before social networks did, at least in the +abstract, but let's not kid ourselves—the way we're packaged and sold to +advertisers is far different in the hands of social networks than at any +time in history. Magazines and television networks could guess at the +kinds of readers and viewers they attracted, and companies like Nielson +could even provide some hard data to back up their guesswork, but what +they didn't have was gobs of very personal data from which to draw +conclusions about us. Apart from our reading/viewing habits, older forms +of media had comparatively little to work with. + +.. TEASER_END + +(As an aside, this is why Google and Facebook are such valuable +companies with such obscenely high market caps. It's not because of the +value they provide to their users. It's because of the value they +provide to advertisers. If what they were doing wasn't such a marked +departure from the way ad targeting was done in the past, then these +companies wouldn't be so financially successful. Don't buy the argument +that what these companies do is the same as magazines and television +networks before them.) + +So here's the bind, I can either participate in social media in order to +"stay connected," and deal with the icky feeling of being someone's +product, or I can opt-out and look like an increasingly irrelevant +luddite, telling Facebook and Google to get off his lawn. But here we +are, this is just the deal we're all being given, and there's nothing we +can do about it, right? + +Wrong. + +Enter Mastodon +============== + +What's Mastodon? There are a few perspectives from which to tackle that +question. To wit: + +1. Technically speaking, Mastodon is one of a few social media networks + that participate in what's sometimes referred to as the "Fediverse," + which is a term used to describe the common technologies/protocols + underpinning them. These protocols allow Mastodon and it's sister + networks to be both decentralized and federated. Taken together, it's + useful to think of federated, decentralized networks as being like + email. I might have an email address with Google, but I can use that + address to send email to anyone at any other email provider. Loosely + speaking, multiple providers/operators is what we mean by + "decentralized;" and the fact that they can all talk to each other is + what we mean by "federated." + +2. To users, Mastodon works a lot like Twitter. You can tweet (which in + Mastodon is called—rather unfortunately in my opinion—tooting), + retweet (or boost, in Mastodon parlance), and send "private" messages + to other users. Toots in Mastodon can be longer than tweets, 500 + characters compared to 280. Hashtags work too. + +3. In terms of look-and-feel, the user experience on a typical Mastodon + server's website reminds me a lot of Tweetdeck. That said, there are + custom user interfaces available as well (not to mention mobile + apps). + +Because of the above—and particularly because of Mastodon's +decentralized, federated nature—there's a lot to recommend it. + +**Did I Mention No Ads?** + +Getting Started +=============== + +I actually started this post because I wanted to have something to send +to folks either asking what Mastodon is or who have just joined and are +a bit confused about next steps. There's a lot already out there, so my +approach with what remains will be to link to other introductions. If I +find another page that fills a gap, I'll update this page with a link. + +Without further ado: + +1. `Mastodon FAQ`_ – A more in-depth explainer of what Mastodon is and + how it works. + +2. `Using Mastodon`_ – Links to the above FAQ, and list of instances, a + list of mobile apps, and a user guide + +3. `Guide to Mastodon`_ – A more in-depth user guide and FAQ + +.. _`Mastodon FAQ`: https://github.com/tootsuite/documentation/blob/master/Using-Mastodon/FAQ.md + +.. _`Using Mastodon`: https://github.com/tootsuite/documentation#using-mastodon + +.. _`Guide to Mastodon`: https://github.com/joyeusenoelle/GuideToMastodon/ + +.. vim: ft=rst: