Jumping on the bandwagon and forging your own way… is this possible?
I joined Twitter in 2008 just before my first teaching role started. It seemed much simpler back then. If something important and relevant was posted it would get amplified by your network so that you wouldn’t miss out. When people had a lot to say, they’d blog about it which in turn made it easier to find more related content worth reading. Nowadays you’re more likely to see an ad every four or five tweets, have a timeline that Twitter thinks you want to see instead of when tweets were posted and suggestions for what Twitter thinks you want to see*. Then there is the craze of writing threads to keep people on the platform and reduce the permanence of a blog with discussion. They can be useful, but the majority I see would work better in blog form I feel.
Due to the recent acquisition of Twitter I’ve seen more and more people want to find alternatives either because they don’t agree with the actions shown by the new owner or for concern about its long-term viability. Let’s just imagine that something does happen to Twitter and it no longer exists. All those threads are lost. If you have a number of threads that you’ve created, do you have them backed up and ready to reuse elsewhere or were they only significant in the moment?
I was increasingly seeing tweets about using Mastodon as a backup and potential new meeting place. I checked it out and my first impression was that it seemed like quite a mess and not easy to understand. It did take me a while to start to understand the significance of instances/servers and how people communicated within these and across lined (federated) communities.
I joined fosstodon (a Mastodon server) due to my interest in free and open-source software to use with students. I have specifically chosen to use Inkscape and Krita with students instead of Adobe Cloud, to enable them to continue building their skills at home without worrying about affordability. This community seems to be a good place to start for me, with a specific focus. Toots (the Mastodon equivalent of Tweets) have to be on topic, which means I should only see what is relevant – something that joining a general social server wouldn’t have.
I’m very early on in my time within a new community and it does indeed seem possible to forge your own way, although for comfort a lot of people probably want to move with a community they’ve curated on Twitter. This part is made easier with this tool recently created, which shows which of your followed Twitter users are publicly sharing their Mastodon accounts.
It will be interesting to see if being part of this community will help to focus my own content creation in this area, or if new communities are formed that I end up moving to instead.
*Yes, some settings can be adjusted around this.
Featured image was AI generated with the phrase “an angry fantasy whimsical matte digital storybook painting of a blue bird and a blue elephant”.