A photo of a young Highland Cow caft

“What hath God wrought?” : Welcome to Mastodon

What did I do a few Sundays ago? Oh, nothing much. Just stand up the Libranigains Mastodon Server. Well, I cheated a little. I could have done it all from scratch – get a VPS somewhere, setup a server, install the whatzits, etc etc … – but I just used a hosting service – https://masto.host/. Currently, Libranigans is closed to new users. I’ve asked a few of my fellow librarian friends to try it out, but right I’m the only one posting to it.

You’ve probably heard a lot about Mastodon lately W/R/T a replacement for Twitter. And yeah, I guess that’s what it is. But it’s a lot more than that. Really, it’s a different way of thinking about how we organize social media. In a lot of ways, it reminds me of the jump from online services like America Online and Compuserve to the World Wide Web. Instead of data sitting in a proprietary jail like Facebook or Twitter, you can choose which Mastodon server your data calls home. Or you can standup your own Mastodon server. I would liken this a bit to the options you have with serving a web site: For the average user, you’d probably use a hosting service that takes care of the heavy lifting for you. For a more advance user or a larger website, you might choose to standup your own server. Same thing with Mastodon. For most users, you’d probably stick to an established server, like Mastodon.social or mstdn.social but maybe you want your data on your server for reasons, or maybe you’re with a large organization or maybe there’s just a group of like-minded people you want to share cat photos with – standup your own server or use a hosting service.

Users can interact and share information between servers. For example, I can “Boost” (the Mastodon term for “retweeting”) someones post from another server, and someone from elsewhere can boost my post on their home server.

For the most part, interaction between servers is open. Users can set limits on how their data is shared and exposed to the greater world. System administrators can set limits on which servers can interact with theirs. For example, if there’s a server that host a lot of spambots, they may ban those servers from interacting with theirs. Servers can vary in their acceptable use. For example, one server might say: absolutely no nude photos on our server. Another server might say: only if it’s art. And yet another might say: there’s no limit. Mastodon itself is part of the larger Fedivrse – a group of interlinked, decentralized, services.

I have honestly forgotten how much I missed having a Twitter-like service. I had quit Twitter long before quitting Twitter was cool. I probably stayed longer that I should because I enjoyed virtually hanging with the likes of Brendan Maclean and Cecil Baldwin. The last few weeks have been exciting finding new people to follow and talk to.

I think there are still a lot of questions to be answered … but I’m excited to be exploring this new space!