Mastodon: talking to myself

POSTED: July 3, 2019

I have decided to spend some part of the summer drawing up plans for my research in the next academic year: research that should end up in three or four published papers over the next two years.

Since the relationship between cultural democracy, social media and what I try to avoid referring to as the post-digital form a foundational part of this research, I have spent the last week exploring the already-there in terms of practical projects and theories.

During this process I discovered that Larry Sanger, the co-founder of Wikipedia, has declared that a global Social Media Strike will occur on July 4 and 5.

His site states that

On July 4 and 5 (at least one day), people with serious grievances against social media — including you? — will go on strike. You could, but obviously don’t have to, announce that you are one of the signatories of the Declaration of Digital Independence.

This means we will not use social media on those days, except to post notices that we are on strike. We’re going to make a lot of noise. Nobody will be able to ignore what’s happening. We’re going to flex our collective muscles and demand that giant, manipulative corporations give us back control over our data, privacy, and user experience.

This strikes me as so dopey as to not need any analysis. Suffice to say, as I posted today on both Facebook and Mastodon,

It will achieve nothing at all for the simple reason that not eating doughnuts for 48 hours is not the same as joining a gym.

The latter might result in you giving up doughnuts 29 days a month.

The former will see you back on the doughnuts in a couple of days feeling unnecessarily pleased with yourself because you have shown Dunkin’ who’s really the boss.

Having thought this, I decided to try to change a habit, rather than just virtue-signal. I therefore joined Mastodon, a distributed social network that uses the open ActivityPub protocol, and therefore exists as part of the Fediverse, as does Diaspora* and several other projects that can now talk to each other.

I then posted on Facebook asking if anyone I connect with there also visits Mastodon, or somewhere else in the Fediverse. If they do then I promised to connect with them there. I then did the same in Pixelache’s Slack, and sent messages to various friends on various channels.

I want to see if I can get a group of people to meet there and thus avoid the well-known stupidity of having the only telephone in town. I await the results with interest.

In the meanwhile, I have perused the Beginners Guide at LifeHacker. I have also read the Mastodon entry in the Fediverse wiki, which you might find well worth exploring in its own right.

Please call soon!