Mastodonnas: The following thread is for the benefit of Twitter users. Forgive me, because you already know this stuff.
(Trivia: I’m tooting all this on a Virgin Atlantic flight to London. Imagine a plane tooting its way through the air 💨💨💨✈️ like farts, but with the emoji facing left, dammit.
Having said that, I have no idea which way the emoji face on your platform.)
Twitter users: let’s talk about why Mastodon’s nice.
This is a Mastodon toot. Unlike a Twitter tweet, there’s room for up to 500 characters.
It may not seem like a huge difference, but after Twitter, it’s like standing up straight after being bent over in a low-ceilinged room for 10 years.
Even after typing this line, I still have room left over for an entire tweet.
Oh, the complete thoughts I can express!
Twitter threads were always a terrible idea. You may have read some great ones, but face it. It’s like a terrible squinty version of Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” video, about as accessible, usually makes even less sense. Lines get broken up, and misunderstood, and you get replies to fragments. You Don’t Need A URL For Every Half-Sentence.
In a Mastodon thread, every message in a thread can be a complete paragraph. A whole thought. Oh my god, I can read again.
(I hate, hate, HATE the way that Twitter makes it so easy to take words out of context, the length forcing you to take you complex thoughts and whittle them down until they’re sharp spikes ready to go into your own foot - Twitter has broken down all barriers to communication and caused More And Bloodier Wars than any other social network in the history of creation.)
Not only is Mastodon open source, but its creator - the wonderful (and currently really stressed) @Gargron - actually cares about UX, actually cares about community, and is encouraging the creation of new clients. We can add new features, plugins, whatever. There’s room for a galaxy here. Remember when there were more than 5 decent Twitter clients? Remember when Twitter cared about being a developer platform? Those were the days.
Five toots in and I’m only now mentioning federation, because while many others are banging on about that - and yes, it’s really important - it’s *not* the reason for Mastodon taking off. We’ve had federated microblogging protocols for years now, and Mastodon is the latest of many projects to use them. But Mastodon’s the first that this many people wanted to use.
Federation’s not why this rocket’s taking off, but it *may* get it into orbit.
Right now, Mastodon’s community is in its salad days: enough people for it to be exciting, small enough to not suffer too much. But everyone knows what’s coming if it gets big.
This is where the open source & federated nature really comes into play. I’m not saying Mastodon can easily solve all the ugly harassment & other problems that Twitter hasn’t, but it has a much better shot - especially now that the users build and run the platform.
This doesn’t feel like the indie web’s last chance, but it’s easily the best chance in a while. We let Facebook eat our relationships, we let Twitter create a new but terrible medium, and then we let Medium eat blogging. I don’t know that Mastodon will be the first new platform in a while that nobody owns, but god, I hope so. Having our lives depend on 7 different domain names is just lying back and inviting net neutrality to get eaten.
Even so, I’ll still be on the birdsite (as Mastodon users call Twitter) plenty, same as Facebook. It’s where most of my friends are. I’ve been on Mastodon for four months now, dipping back in occasionally, sponsoring Gagron, hoping it gets good. My bad habits keep me coming back to the proprietary dining halls. But now I’m looking out at the camping grounds, the shuks, the street parties. Mastodon makes me want to run outside and play in the open again.
— Yoz 8/8 ❤️💚💙
Already getting people asking how FOSS + Federation solves harassment.
Please understand: I'm not saying it *solves* harassment, just gives us many more options for dealing with it. There's still going to be plenty of noise and pain, and some of it's going to take whole new ugly forms that weren't possible before.
Everyone gets more control. This is both good and bad.
(And now going quiet for a while, because oh god inflight wifi prices)