(2018-07-10) Rao Into The Fediverse

Venkatesh Rao: Into the Fediverse

Mastodon actually takes a bit of explaining and wrapping-mind-around-genuinely-new-thing effort. If you think of it as open-source twitter (as I initially did), you’ll approach it with the wrong expectations, and end up getting confused and annoyed for a while.

Think of it as warren-like rather than plaza (Warrens vs Plaza) like microblogging: an open, online network of city-states as opposed to a single large public plaza.

At first, the differences seem insignificant:

These small design differences add up to a big experience difference.

If you’ve followed ribbonfarm for a few years, you probably know that there is a sort of messy, ungoverned, slum-like sprawl of community activity adjacent to it that I call the RBU: The Ribbonfarm Blogamatic Universe.

The RBU comprises a few secret Facebook groups, a Whatsapp group, a couple of Telegram groups, a couple of unincorporated corners of Twitter

The RBU has catalyzed at least one marriage, one game, and one startup that I know of. I think a few collaborations, partnerships, gigs, and hirings have also emerged from it

Clearly, this is a disorganized, incoherent, under-theorized mess of Random Acts of Communitarianism (I recently learned a dignified new term for this: polyglot persistence). For years, people have been suggesting things like a community site, subreddit, or Discourse forum, but they’ve all seemed like too much effort and in the wrong direction.

Mastodon is the first platform that seemed like it could add interesting and fun new dynamics without requiring a whole lot of admin work or Serious Communitarian Adulting.

I still enjoy Twitter and have continued to be active there since we got this going. As far as I’m concerned, they are fundamentally different media meant for different things. I don’t really know what either is for yet, but so long as I’m having fun on both, I don’t really mind.

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