Tooting Alone

This month, the early adopters are all on mastodon. Mastodon is actually a server implementation for OStatus (which used to be StatusNet, which was originally on identi.ca) the TL;DR of Ostatus is “like twitter, but federated”. As of this morning there are almost 900 active instances. Since the software is open, different instance administrators can set their own policies and users can find an instance whose culture agrees with them.

Mastodon also has an option to operate a single user instance, and this is where it gets less clear. Mastodon is designed to show three different timelines, the users personal timeline, a public timeline for the local server, and a federated timeline. On a single user server the local timeline will show the “toots” (Yes, that’s what they call a status post) of the instance’s one user, and the federated timeline will look very similar to the single user’s personal timeline. In managing your own presence on the network, you simultaneously isolate yourself from it. It’s possible however that this won’t end up mattering very much. I can’t remember the last time I looked at the Twitter public timeline. If OStatus ends up working the same way, it won’t matter how many people are on your instance, because you will interact with the network through the people you follow, even if they are on many different instances. While the local timeline won’t show much , the federated timeline, which is sort of a second degree network (see https://cybre.space/users/nightpool/updates/13933 ) looks as if it may end up, on a single user server, as a very personalized feed.

This ties in to the IndieWeb movement with its idea of POSSE (Publish own site, syndicate elsewhere) and there are already connectors to publish from tools like withknown to mastodon. Withknown is great for publishing, but not very good for aggregating. There is always RSS, and in fact mastodon autogenerates atom feeds per user (site.tld/users/username.atom). This leaves you using one application to read and another one to reply. I really wish something like Mark Pesce’s Plexus (https://github.com/mpesce/Plexus) was still active. How hard would it be to build a personal dashboard that would bring together RSS reading / OStatus / blogs /etc.?

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