When I started out on Twitter back in 2007/8 I loved the local feel of the site and followed people I knew in real life or in the local area. As Twitter grew in popularity, it got cluttered for me. I began to get followers and followed quite a bit of people back. Now my HOME timeline is so cluttered I can’t use it. I’m “forced” to use lists to navigate Twitter and to be honest, it’s not enjoy able anymore.
Enter Mastodon a year ago. Mastodon was intriguing to me. I had been watching things like Identi.ca (now Status.Net) and GNU Social for years, but they never stuck for me. I love the idea of federation, but even with that you need a community. So a year goes by and the Philly-area crowd gets fed up with Twitter enough to venture to Mastodon. Alex Hillman, of Indy Hall co-working fame, spins up an instance and called it Jawns.Club. Now there’s a community, my community on this new-ish social network that isn’t controlled by corporations and messed up by trolls, yet.
Not Perfect By Any Stretch
Is Mastodon lacking in some respects. Absolutely. Here are just a few things:
Not enough choice in applications
The apps that are out there aren’t as full featured as I’d like
The code is still being actively developed and sometimes acts as such
But even with the issues, Mastodon is a great place to be. It will never be a “Twitter-killer,” at least not for a while, but it does fill a void.
Oh The Instances. Which One(s) should I choose?
So here’s another issue, each Instance or neighborhood on Mastodon has it’s own flavor, community, and culture. Different topics vary across the federation of servers running instances of Mastodon. How many can one person join? All if they really want to. But, how many can they participate in successfully. I have upwards of 5 accounts on different servers. Finally Jawns.Club hit the spot, because that’s where my community is. But I struggle, because am I missing out on other conversations elsewhere? So because of that, I decided to start my own instance WPSocial.Live for the WordPress community. Hit me up if you want to join.
Some apps let you quietly follow other instances PUBLIC streams, but I haven’t found one that I like, well that works. Also the desktop options are very limited.
So What’s A Person To Do?
Pick an instance, use it for a while, see if the community fits your needs. If not, you can export your followers and move to another instance. You can even leave a “forwarding address” of sorts telling people what instance or neighborhood your part of now. It’s pretty slick.
Mastodon, the social network, not the Heavy Metal Band, came on the social media scene just over 2 years ago. It was immediately embraced by those who felt Twitter had sold out to to corporate interests and wasn’t what it once was. It also seemed and still seems to not to be able to deal with its major troll issue.
Unlike the “birdsite,” as users of Mastodon call Twitter, Mastodon is completely open source and federated. This means that anyone can run their own “instance” or neighborhood on Mastodon and have it connect to the greater community. It’s really slick.
For example, there is Mastodon.Social that is run by developer(s) of Mastodon, but there are instances of the service for all types of communities.
I currently have more accounts on Mastodon than I remember, but the one that I use almost exclusively is Jawns.club, the Philadelphia (area) instance.
There are instances for techies, scholars, hipsters, witches, LGBTQ, etc. Mastodon is really democracizing the microblogging social networking arena.
Here is a great view explaining what exactly Mastodon is and why it rocks!
The shooting at The Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland on Thursday, where 5 people were killed, hit me hard.
As a recovering newspaper journalist, I used to work for papers about that size. I covered similar stories to those that the journalists at that paper cover.
I didn’t always make friends with people when I reported on corruption. There was that one time when I sued a township over their refusal to release their yearly budget (they wouldn’t let me have a copy and review it). At anytime back in 2006-07 that could have been me. I could have been one of those journalists. I still know plenty of journalists that are still in newsrooms just like The Capital Gazette.
It turns out the killer, Jarrod Ramos, 38, of Laurel, MD had a vendetta against the paper. He’s harassed numerous people at the paper and elsewhere.
Ramos Had A Record, He Still Had Access To A Gun — Thanks NRA
Ramos was convicted of a misdemeanor for harassing a former high school acquaintance. So, how did he get a gun? Oh, that’s right, the National Rifle Association (NRA), has done everything in their power to block any legislation, federal or state or even local, that could have prevented a nutcase like this from getting a gun.
The NRA used to represent gun owners who wanted sensible gun laws and safety. Somewhere along the way the NRA saw green and became little more than a lobbying arm of the gun manufacturers. Money corrupts, as we all know.
Could this shooting have been prevented if there were stricter gun laws on the books? Maybe. It’s not definitive, but any obstacle to stop would be gun-toting crazies is a good thing.
Not Saying No Guns — Just Want Sensible Gun Laws
You need a license or a certificate of some sort for so many things, but not for a gun. Driving a car you need a license, fishing you need a license, do I need to go on?
Some gun owners resist a 3-day waiting period to getting a gun. It’s only 3 days people! Others think background checks on all gun purchases are a burden. Well, you know what? Tell that to the families who lose a loved one every day to gun violence in cities like Philadelphia and Chicago.
We could go on and on with this gun debate and get nowhere. Things will only change when we hold those making the laws accountable. Too many politicians are paid off – yes PAID OFF – by the NRA to get in the way of gun laws.
For example, where are the gun laws after the mass shooting on February 14, 2018, in which seventeen students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida were killed and another seventeen were injured?
We’re at the end of June and NOTHING. Let’s let that sink in.
So Where Does This Leave Us?
Pretty much, where we’ve been. But we need to fight for sensible gun laws. I’m not advocating for no guns. I’m advocating for smarter laws that keep, or try and keep guns out of the hands of people who have no business having one.