why I join Mastodon

I've joined Mastodon four times. The first was in October or November 2016, on mastodon.social, when @shel first joined and told all of her friends; I stuck around for a bit, but only had two or so friends on it (@shel and @ebeth), and I had a large social group on Twitter, so i went back to 'birdsite' (Twitter, per bits of the fediverse).

now I'm back.

a couple of months ago, I picked @rowanlupton@mastodon.social back up[1]. In the time since, I've made more of an effort to explore the fediverse[2] than I did when I first joined.

the local and federated timelines

The things that make Mastodon feel really special are the local and federated timelines:

local

The local timeline shows you everybody on your current instance. That is, if I look at my local timeline on toot.cafe, I'll see "toots"[3] from everybody with a toot.cafe username. This is the timeline that really exemplifies an instance's personality/character.

federated

The federated timeline shows toots from everybody who the instance knows of. To continue using toot.cafe as an example, that means that I can see toots from any user who is followed by somebody on toot.cafe. That is: if I use my @rowan@toot.cafe account to follow @user@mastodon.social, everybody on toot.cafe will see toots from @user@mastodon.social on their federated timeline.
In my experience, the federated timeline tends to move too fast for me, so I just keep local open.

instances

toot.cafe

Shortly after logging back into mastodon, I joined toot.cafe because I'd heard it was a good place for web development (it is!). I made some good connections there, including @cwebber, who co-wrote the ActivityPub spec, @sivy, @npd, and more, all of whom have helped me in varying ways throughout my development.
I try to keep my computery stuff on here, so that people can filter what they follow from me.

social.coop

Around the same time as rejoining Mastodon (I'm fuzzy on timelines) I'd started contributing with Good Good Work. I'd been hoping to work with Little Weaver for a while already, so the coop idea wasn't new to me, but I'm still surprised how quickly I caught the coop bug[4]. I've had a great time reading people's thoughts on coops and anticapitalism and met @ntnsndr[5].
This is the instance where I'm the least active, but when I start figuring out coops enough to have more feelings about them, you can bet this is where I'll be.
I wrote a blog post about how I think that social.coop captures the spirit of mastodon

cybre.space

With each instance that I've joined, I've found a new community of people. On toot.cafe and social.coop, they have had specific shared interests — web development and cooperative businesses.
Cybre.space is different. Here, the community[6] is curated by common philosophies/ways of being. It feels much easier to make real friends here than on the other instances; less like a tool, and more like a social group.
My account on cybre.space is set to private by default, because it's my most personal space.

wrap-up

Mastodon is a special place to me. It looks a bit like Twitter, but the character is completely different; because of small design decisions like "not showing post likes by default" it becomes less of a popularity contest, in favor of being about the people.
Mastodon, besides the technical excitement of federation, is, truly, a social network for humans.

you can follow me on the fediverse on toot.cafe, social.coop, and/or cybre.space.


  1. and started working on an ActivityPubimplementation in Python ↩︎

  2. the collection of Mastodon, gnu.social, and other interoperable servers are commonly referred to as the 'fediverse' ↩︎

  3. posts ↩︎

  4. "wait, but, surely [insert thing] should be a coop too?!" ↩︎

  5. a friend of Good Good Work ↩︎

  6. local timeline ↩︎

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