This article assumes you’ve read my previous two blog posts, here and here. Why not give them a quick read if you haven’t already?
To balance out the doom and gloom of an internet wholly under the thrall of corporate interests and fed through single channels devoid of competition, it’s worth being aware of just how pervasive and powerful an idea decentralization is in the 21st century.
The structure of things now are remnants of the way things have always been done: we trust in a singular authority to manage everything behind the scenes so that our experience on this side remains seamless.
Isn’t it a bit strange that the entire world has to wait on the CEO of Twitter to come around on what constitutes healthy discourse? I am not talking about it being too little, too late. Rather, my issue is with “instant, public, global messaging and conversation” being entirely dependent on one single privately held company’s whims. Perhaps they want to go in the right direction right now for once, but who’s to say how their opinion changes in the future?
The online space is dominated by a small handful of companies that command a disproportionate amount of power and influence over the entire online experience, not just social media. So much influence that several of these companies have fundamentally altered many aspects of life offline; often described with the floral language of the privileged as ‘disruptive,’ but more clearly understood in the common tongue as ‘destructive.’’
The five most valuable companies at the end of 2017 were, in order: Apple, Alphabet (the company that owns Google), Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook.
So you want to be part of the Mastodon network, and you want to truly own your data, independent of anyone else. Perhaps you want to curate a niche community for a specific interest, or maybe for your own family or close circle of friends. You went through the documentation and installed the software, or maybe you chose one of the available hosting options to avoid all the technical nonsense altogether.
Human beings, above all else, are storytellers. It’s how we relate to our own past, or personalities, or each other. It’s how to connect with the world around us, make sense of events, and assess values. We rely on stories to function as agents in the world.
These stories are often told in-person: “oh, I did this today, I felt like this, then this happened and I was like ‘whoa no way!
About 6 months have passed since April, during which the major mainstream breakthrough of our decentralized social network took place. From 20,000 users to almost a million! What better time to run through a couple examples of what’s been introduced since then?
Mastodon is defined by its focus on good user experience, polished design and superior anti-abuse tools. In that vein, the web app has received numerous updates. Using the latest browser features, the web app receives real push notifications, making it almost indistinguishable from a native mobile app.