I can’t believe that I’m about to say this: I just started using the new social network, Mastodon. I’m not saying YOU should use it, YET, but I can tell you that there’s quite a buzz about it.
What is Mastodon
It’s a social network, but a distributed one. Instead of us all showing up on a bunch of servers we think of as “Twitter,” we can sign up to a “home” “instance” of a server (I’m using quotes for mortals – developers are already making a face at me, but I write my posts for humans, not code monkeys). I know. Don’t panic. This will take some explaining.
Mastodon is like Twitter. You got that part.
There are MANY home bases for it. The primary one was http://mastodon.social. But that filled up fast and said, “We’re not taking anyone new right now.” SO there’s a list of “instances” (meaning servers up and running that other people have built) and you can sign up to any of these.
Think of “instance” a bit like “that stuff to the right of your @ in your email.
If you’re email@example.com , the account is “chris” and the server is “owner.media.” If you’re firstname.lastname@example.org (I just made that up so don’t send this poor person email), it means your account is bobross and your “instance” is “yahoo.com.”
With me so far?
Signing Up for Mastodon
I picked an instance of Mastodon off this list. I picked http://mastodon.rocks for nearly no reason. It was green, up, and had a few hundred users. Again, it doesn’t “exactly” matter where you sign up.
I can’t tell you which instance to pick. There’s no guarantee someone won’t just close a server tomorrow. It’s wild west time for all this right now. Which raises another big issue. (Kinda.)
There’s No Identity Confirmation
This is also the weird part. I signed up as “@chrisbrogan” on the Mastodon.rocks server, but it only counts there. Anyone can sign up as @chrisbrogan on any other instance, and people wouldn’t know it wasn’t me. (This is why twitter and facebook do a ‘verified’ by the way.)
Now, this isn’t all that weird. I’m email@example.com, but I’m not firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com etc. See what I mean? It’s not THAT different than signing up for email. We don’t force people to prove they’re who they are when they get an email account.
Should Business Start Using This?
Absolutely not. No. Nein. Do NOT use this. Nyet. It’s too new. It’s too uncertain. It’s too bleeding edge.
Should YOU Check It Out?
I have one unscientific thing to tell you: it FEELS like the early days of Twitter. It feels fun right now.
But fun in that “I didn’t need another social network, but why not muck with it” kind of way. Fun in that “what if these guys get right what ultimately failed at Twitter. Fun in that “there’s just a slight shift in how this is built that’s worth thinking about” kind of way.
Fun because instead of “tweets,” they’re “toots.” Who doesn’t want to toot at someone?
The Early Days
I was into bulletin board services (BBS) back in the day. They were my life. Then AOL. Then early Internet. When we all had to learn things like URLs and email addresses etc, it FELT messy and nerdy and like no grown ups would do it. And then we all did. This feels weirdly like that. Kind of. But I’m not sold.
This could be another Jaiku/Pownce/Plurk/Ello and whatever else.
Find Me on Mastodon
My account is here. Feel free to follow. Who knows if it’s useful. I’m not guaranteeing I’ll follow you back. Because I did that once on Twitter and it was a disaster. So who knows?
And if this is your first time ever hearing about me, grab my newsletter. It’s the best thing I do every week.