I didn't really talk about Mastodon in the last post. I'd better do it right this time.
I'm still finding it difficult to understand what a federated network is, let alone explain it. However, installing an instance on my home server as well as signing up at a public instance has helped me figure things out more. In short, federation means decentralized. So from what I've gathered:
- Birdsite* is centralized. That means the user has to go to Birdsite to have an account, follow other accounts, and communicate with other users.
- Mastodon is federated. Meaning you can install it on your own server or go to one of the many public instances. Furthermore, you don't have to be signed up with one instance to follow or communicate with other users. So my account on my home server can follow Eugen Rochko, the creator of Mastodon, on Mastodon.social. I can't get into the technical aspects of how that works because I don't understand it to that level of granularity.
- Another example of a federated network is your email host. If you have a gmail account, you can send emails to other gmail users or Outlook.com users, or Yahoo users and etc. You are not confined to one singular environment.
- The federated feed is a whole different beast that I'm not sure I'm following (pun not intended). I believe it is a curated feed of who you are following across all instances plus whoever they're following, tooting, and boosting. I don't know if I dig this or not.
- Tooting and boosting are tweeting and retweeting respectively. I don't know why it can't be posting and re-posting, but ok.
- I don't know if or how I can show my posts on my instance's home feed but not the federated feed. I wish there was some sort of option to turn off federation.
And now some very helpful links to help you to get to know Mastodon:
- Welcome To Mastodon: a post by Mastodon's creator about the genesis for Mastodon's existence
- A beginner's guide to Mastodon: The Verge's helpful guide
- All public instances: If you can't set up your own instance, here's a long list of public ones
- Mastodon is like Twitter without Nazi's, so why are we not using it: Motherboard has a good article about a week with Mastodon in lieu of Birdsite
- Like Twitter but hate the trolls? Try Mastodon: Wired weighs in
- Is Mastodon the new social media star, or imploding black hole? Good observation from a skeptic. I think it has a chance, though.
And finally, some links to some mobile apps. Keep in mind, because Mastodon is in its infancy, mobile apps are in their infancy:
- Amaroq: The only iOS app available as of now
- Tusky: One of several Android apps but this one seems to be the most popular and polished.
*From now on, I will refer to Twitter by the pejorative, Birdsite.