Of Tweets and Toots
Last Updated on 18 November 2022
What to do when you feel your social network no longer cuts the mustard?
This is the question loads of people have asked themselves since Elon Musk took over Twitter.
For many it seems the answer is Mastodon.
I started my training business before social media existed, and usually claim that I only use them for work, not personal life.
But I’m also an early adopter, and have been on Twitter since 2008. And it’s not quite true that I only use it for work.
I follow people who tweet about film history and cinema. I also love following people who tweet rail journeys across Europe, and who share my interest in the history of Berlin. (I worked there in 1978.)
If I left Twitter, what would happen to these links to 1,000 people I’m currently following, whether creative freelancers, other training businesses, journalists or film enthusiasts?
Most importantly, how would I tell freelancers about upcoming courses or share tips on how to be more organised and a better networker?
Enter the Mastodon
Over the last few days I’ve been getting into Mastodon, partly just to see what the fuss is about. And, y’know what? It feels like Twitter did in the old days.
Friendly, no ads, less frenetic.
This is partly because I have not found many people yet on Mastodon. But I discovered some of my travel/Berlin people almost immediately and it’s been fun to stop and think about what I want to get from a social network after 14 years on the Twitter roller-coaster.
I can see that I will increase the people I follow almost exponentially if I keep dipping in over a few weeks.
Follow me there if you like. I’m not leaving Twitter (yet). But I’d love to keep in touch with you in the Tootiverse. ‘Cos it’s called that isn’t it? (No it isn’t. Ed.)
And now let me share what I’ve learnt so far as a masto-newby. (Please stop that now. Ed.)
What is the difference between Twitter and Mastodon?
Twitter is a big big thing, owned and run by
a big big ego.
Mastodon is a load of little servers (called ‘instances’) dotted around the world, run (mainly) by enthusiasts around a specific interest. Anyone can set up an instance, even governments.
But I’m interested in lots of things?
No problem. Think of a Mastodon ‘instance’ as being like an old-fashioned telephone exchange. Your old phone line is hooked up to an exchange, but you can still phone people all over the world even when they’re on a different exchange. This is because the exchanges are all joined up too.
You join an instance, set up a profile, and then follow whoever you like.
For example, I joined an instance called toot.wales, because I’m Welsh. But it doesn’t restrict my followers. I can follow people regardless of what instance they are on. I just need to know their Mastodon address.
Some of the more general-sounding instances (eg mastodon.social and mastodon.world) have struggled in recent days as so many people have been decamping from Twitter but haven’t got their head around how Mastodon is different. You can join any instance.
But how do I find people?
When you join an instance you can click ‘local’ and see what people who are on the same instance are tooting.
But you can also see what other people are tooting on other instances around the world, by clicking ‘Federated’.
Interestingly, you can only see toots from people who are already being followed by people on your own instance.
All the wider connected instances are called ‘the Fediverse’.
Mastodon is not like Twitter. It’s specifically designed to help people communicate around smaller communities and interests. Each instance also has codes of conduct and rules to ensure good conduct.
In theory this should make it easier to spot trouble-makers, which is one of the reasons people are moving over from Twitter.
Of course if and when more and more people move to Mastodon this ‘federated’, semi-localised structure will be really tested.
Is it safe and secure?
It can be. Here’s a really well-written short guide to how to make it so:
Does it work on a phone, iPad, web, etc…?
Yes. There are a number of different apps you can use with Mastodon. They can all link up with your profile.
I’ve noticed Apple users often recommend one called Metatext. I’ve used it for all of two days and it seems to work well.
I’ve seen Android users being recommended an app called Tusky
Where do I find lots more info?
Posted on 07 November 2022