I have been simmering on the whole Twitter drama lately, and the mass migration to Mastodon. As I said before, I am not being emotional about this, and want to think about this in the context of what I consider to be my overall domain strategy. I run my own websites, blogs, email, and I think the time has come for me to own my social network. It makes me sad and a little mad to see what is happening to Twitter, and while I won’t be deleting my account or going anywhere soon, I do want to explore what Mastodon has to offer, and consider how it fits into my world. I use Twitter for a lot more than just talking with my friends. I use it to research things. I automate curation and syndication of my stories using the API. And it is one of the last few social applications I will allow on my mobile phone. Twitter is still very important to me, but I think it is time to begin laying the foundation for my social presence within my domain(s) using Mastodon.
After some noodling I decided to install my own Mastodon server. I have the skills and resources to do this, and it is important to me that I understand the inner workings of it all. I operate my world on Amazon Web Services, so I spun up a Debian Linux EC2 instance, and got to work setting up my social presence—-I followed this setup script (https://www.linuxbabe.com/debian/install-mastodon-debian-server), but then made it my own. The first time I did it I created a user called “info” and made a few mistakes in how I configured my AWS S3 storage and other things, but ultimately I ended up with a working single user instance of Mastodon under the kinlane.com domain. This will be my personal and professional social domain, where I focus on the things that matter to me as a human being online. Next, I will get to work setting one up for my apievangelist.com domain, but for now I am learning the ropes with my more personal instance.
While you won’t find me becoming all evangelical about Mastodon to others, you will find me talking a lot about how I use it moving forward. I can solidly see where it fits into my infrastructure stack. Social is very important to me, and Elon Musk and Twitter are squandering a lot of work I’ve put into that platform over the years. I am willing to do all this work over again, but I am not looking to do it too many more times. I feel like we are hitting this threshold with platforms and technology in general, but not all of us will be able to sort it all out. I feel like having Elon Musk acting like this out in public is doing us all a favor, because this is happening behind the scenes of many of the platforms we are using, they are just better at keeping the public performance under control. Federated infrastructure is appealing to me, and operating my essential digital resources and capabilities within my own is something I’m very opinionated about. However, I think with Twitter, my view of things has been obfuscated by other social and political goings on, and I don’t think I am entirely thinking straight about the platform, and setting up Mastodon is helping me shift that.
I measure the work I have done on Twitter beyond just the number of followers I have there. I worry about being able to assemble the same scope of audience I have on Twitter on my Mastodon, but honestly it is a game to me, so I am up for playing. As I engage on my Mastodon platform, exploring this federated universe, I am learning a lot. I am getting a chance to reboot not just my Twitter presence, but my overall social presence. There isn’t a single social network I am loyal to, but I have done years of work on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, so it is unlikely I will be going anywhere soon. But, I do see the opportunity to reboot how I engage on these platforms, shifting the center of balance once again to my domain, and syndicate out as necessary. It is a fascinating world. I didn’t have much hope that we could recreate our social world out here (in the Fediverse), but I see it was more about me being ground down by the politics of Twitter, than it was about the reality of doing it. This is how they want us.
Alright, well I am pretty stoked to have this instance of Mastodon setup. I am working with Audrey to set up her instance, and I am setting up a multi-user instance for API Evangelist. I won’t be letting others sign up, but I will be setting up multiple accounts within the domain to focus on specific topical domains. My goal is to minimize the information overload on the main API Evangelist channel, and provide specific channels you can subscribe to, using each individual user as a way to separate things out. We’ll see. I am in early days now, but from an information architecture, social, and API perspective it is pretty exciting times. I have a new federated canvas that I can paint on. Sure, it is scary because I have to rebuild my audience, but that is fine. It will give me a chance to build out new relationships, and form new communities across a variety of topics. I managed to increase my excitement levels about social networking and Mastodon by a couple of levels. This is good. I needed this right now.