An Excellent Read: The Verge on how "Google shapes everything on the web"

If you want to understand how we got to the Web that we have today, I would strongly recommend reading this beautiful piece by Mia Sato at The Verge on the theme of “Google shapes everything on the Web

It is an interactive piece that explains in both text and animations why it is that search engine optimization (SEO) has driven every website to look the same… why even short articles are being broken up by headings… why author bylines are suddenly expanding into bios…  … and why the #Web is increasingly bland, useless, and untrustworthy

It also explains why increasingly people are using other search experiences (ex TikTok) - or moving content into other systems - purely because the Web is no longer working in the way it used to. It’s now gamed by so many… and filled with generative-AI spawned content farms….

Certainly some of us keep posting to our good old websites or blogs… largely because they were and are labors of love, not profit.

But those seeking profit or fame are all playing the SEO game… and we with our regular old websites will lose out on the discovery.

I thought one of the final paragraphs was on point about the paywalling of content (my emphasis added):

But no matter what happens with Search, there’s already a splintering: a web full of cheap, low-effort content and a whole world of human-first art, entertainment, and information that lives behind paywalls, in private chat rooms, and on websites that are working toward a more sustainable model. As with young people using TikTok for search, or the practice of adding “reddit” to search queries, users are signaling they want a different way to find things and feel no particular loyalty to Google.

People are looking for alternatives, and increasingly they are moving to private communities / walled gardens in large part to avoid the spam... and to avoid the blandness and overall "enshittification" of the Web.

The Rise of AI-driven “Virtual Influencers” (to no surprise)

Visit “Aitana Lopez” on Instagram. As you scroll down, the account looks like that of any of the hundreds (or thousands) of “influencer” accounts on Instagram. “Aitana” post photos from her travels, of her wearing various clothes, and making references to various brands. 

Except… it’s fake.

As described on Ars Technica, this account is a complete fabrication developed by an ad agency in Barcelona. 

Why? Because they found that regular human “influencers” were starting to charge to much.

And so they wanted a cheaper way for their customers to advertise.

And so “AI-tana” was created. To be fair, they are very open about it being AI-generated. It’s right there in “her” bio. 

But other “virtual influencers” will not be so clear. And you won’t be able to know if an account is real or virtual.

Now, let’s be honest, that can also be the case today without generative AI. You can have an Instagram account with photos that come from stock photography or some other service - or could be of someone else.

But generative AI just makes this SO much easier.

And there’s no surprise… advertisers have always been looking for ways to pay less for advertising. This is just the natural evolution.

The Curious Aspect of Facebook Supporting Multiple Personas

I find it fascinating that Meta just announced the ability of Facebook users to have multiple accounts attached to their single Facebook account. So you can have different “personas” for interacting with different communities differently.

Now, this is nothing very new. We’ve had this in the Fediverse since its beginnings. You can have as many accounts on different instances as you want. And many apps let you seamlessly switch between them. I use the Ice Cubes app for Mastodon on my mobile devices, and with the tap on an icon in the lower right corner of the app, I can switch to a different profile. Other social media services have had this capability, too.

But why I find this fascinating is that my memory is that for so long, Facebook did NOT want you to do this. They promoted the notion that you used your “real name” and that Facebook was a place where you could go to interact with real people, not potentially anonymous people. And in fact they seemed to encourage the blending and blurring of work and personal lives.

I remember this being a big deal to them - and something that differentiated Facebook from other services that allowed anonymity or pseudonymity.

Or at least that is what I remember. And so it is fascinating to see the pivot to allowing people to have different accounts for different facets of their lives. Which DOES reflect the reality of how most of us like to interact with people online.

Whether this incentivizes more people to use Facebook, I don’t know. I’ve decreased my time there mostly because of their extremely privacy-invasive systems. Multiple personas will not bring me back. But I am only one person. What about you? Will this make you do anything more on Facebook?

43% of the Web Can No Longer (Easily) Auto-Share to Twitter


As of today, May 1, 2023, 43% of web sites will no longer be able to easily auto-share posts to Twitter. I’m referring, of course, to WordPress, which W3Techs shows as powering around 43% of all sites they scan.

Due to the continued incomprehensible decisions being made by Twitter’s new management, the company behind WordPress, Automattic, has stated that they have discontinued the easy auto-sharing of posts through their hosted service, and also through the Jetpack Social service used by many people (myself included) who operate their own WordPress instances.

The issue is that Twitter decided to start charging for API access, and as Automattic notes:

The cost increase is prohibitive for us to absorb without passing a significant price increase along to you, and we don’t see that as an option. We have attempted to negotiate a path forward, but haven’t been able to reach an agreement in time for Twitter’s May 1 cutoff. 

When you publish a new post on or any WordPress site using Jetpack, it will no longer be automatically shared out to Twitter. You can, of course, manually copy and paste the URL from your site over into Twitter. And you can potentially use some other auto-sharing plugin that has decided to pay Twitter’s API fees. 

Now of course all 43% of web sites using WordPress did NOT use this auto-sharing capability. Many sites did not, but many did - and this allowed Twitter to be the place where you could be notified when someone you followed published something new.

Of all the many ridiculous decisions Twitter’s management has made in the past six months, this excessive changing for API access seems to me to be one of the MOST short-sighted decisions.

One of the reasons I used Twitter was to get the latest news and content. Now Twitter is reducing the amount of content that will be shared.  The API limits are expected to affect public service announcements - and now will affect the sharing of blog posts.

I get that Twitter’s new owners desperately need to figure out ways to make money, but this doesn’t seem to be the right one.

In my mind, if you want your social service to be THE place for people to go for the latest news and content, then you want to reduce any friction involved with posting content INTO your service. 

The reality is that you (Twitter) need that content far more than the content providers need you!

The Good News

There was some good news in the post from Automattic - specifically that they will soon be adding Mastodon auto-sharing, as well as Instagram:

However, we’re adding Instagram and Mastodon very soon. In the meantime, auto-sharing to Tumblr, Facebook, and LinkedIn still works as expected

I don’t personally care as much about the IG linkage, but the Mastodon auto-sharing will be hugely helpful, as that is where I am spending most of my social time these days. There are no API fees there, and content can be shared in many ways. 

You can already do this auto-sharing to Mastodon using ActivityPub plugins, but this announcement indicates it will be brought more into the main WordPress / Jetpack functionality, which will make it that much easier for people to use.

I look forward to trying the Mastodon sharing out when it becomes available!

Meanwhile… this announcement means there are even fewer reasons for me to be checking Twitter anymore. Sad to see the continued decline. 🙁


Cory Doctorow on the enshittification of social platforms

The word enshittification on a blue and white gradient

If you read nothing else this week, I encourage you to read Cory Doctorow’s latest … rant? … essay? … article?

Written in a style uniquely his own, he calls the article “TikTok enshittification”, giving us an ever so appropriate new word. Here’s his intro:

Here is how platforms die: first, they are good to their users; then they abuse their users to make things better for their business customers; finally, they abuse those business customers to claw back all the value for themselves. Then, they die.

I call this enshittification, and it is a seemingly inevitable consequence arising from the combination of the ease of changing how a platform allocates value, combined with the nature of a "two sided market," where a platform sits between buyers and sellers, hold each hostage to the other, raking off an ever-larger share of the value that passes between them.

By the title, you would think it would focus only on TikTok, but in fact he walks through how this behavior happened on:

  • Amazon
  • Facebook
  • TikTok
  • Cryptocurrencies/Web3
  • Twitter
  • Amazon Smile
  • Google Search

And in the midst he brings it all the way back to the Netheads vs Bellheads debates of the 1990s.

I enjoyed the post because we’ve seen this cycle happen… SO… MANY… TIMES….

New startup launches and everybody gets excited and starts using it for free. At some point the company has to make enough money to keep paying people - and to pay their investors, because they want to grow. And so the start making choices that ultimately follow this path.

The post was also a sad reminder of how much we’ve lost since some of the earliest days when companies like Google set out with a mission "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful”. That’s still their mission, in fact, but with so many people trying to game their algorithm, and with so much advertising involved, the results are no longer what they once were. (And we’ll see if they are challenged by ChatGPT and other generative AI systems.)

Toward the end, he hits a key point:

Enshittification truly is how platforms die. That's fine, actually. We don't need eternal rulers of the internet. It's okay for new ideas and new ways of working to emerge. The emphasis of lawmakers and policymakers shouldn't be preserving the crepuscular senescence of dying platforms. Rather, our policy focus should be on minimizing the cost to users when these firms reach their expiry date: enshrining rights like end-to-end would mean that no matter how autocannibalistic a zombie platform became, willing speakers and willing listeners would still connect with each other

Many years ago, friends of mine wrote “There are no permanent favourites” as part of what they termed the Internet Invariants.

The point is that platforms and services come and go. Some have their dominance for a few years, some for many years. But in the end the siren song of “enshittification” is often too much to resist. The cycle continues.

Midway Through 100 Days of Blogging - How Did I Do?

100 Days of Blogging FAIL

Back on December 1, 2022, I boldly said that I was going to attempt 100 consecutive days of blogging. Today marks day 50, the halfway point. So.. how did I do?

Wellll… how many different ways can you say...


I started out strong. From December 1 to 15 I published every single day. Then I missed December 16th, published on the 17th, and missed again on the 18th. Then I had a four-day run from the 19th to 22nd, missed the 23rd, and then a five-day run from the 24th through 28th.

Then I missed the 29th, published on the 30th, and missed the 31st. And then, the only post I have published so far in January 2023 was on January 1.

So including this post you are reading now, I will have published 28 posts in 50 days, which comes in at 56%.

Many reasons… each one small in its own way… but the end result is that I stopped.

And yet the point was to try to push myself into getting BACK into the routine of writing every single day.

I have a LOOOOOONNNGGGGGG list of topics… I… just… need… to…. WRITE!


Let’s do a reset and see what happens. 100 days from today is April 29. Fifty days from now will be March 10.

Let’s check in there and see whether this is going to happen or not! 😀

Mastodon Tip - Filter Languages To See Only The Ones You Understand

Screenshot of Mastodon preferences panel allowing you to filter posts based on languages

A tip for all the newcomers to Mastodon - if you are seeing a lot of posts in your timelines in languages that you don’t know, there is a very simple way you can filter those posts out. You just:

  • In the web client, click on the gear icon to go into Preferences
  • Select the “Other” panel under Preferences (see screenshot above)
  • Scroll down to “Filter languages"
  • Check the boxes next to the languages that you want to see
  • Scroll up to the top and press the “Save changes” button

Now your Mastodon timelines will only show you posts that indicate they are in the languages you have specified.

I made this change a few years back because I’m on a larger instance, and on the rare occasions when I actually looked at the Local timeline, it was full of posts in so many wonderful languages… but only a few of them I could actually understand. So I went into these preferences and changed it so that I only see posts in the three languages I know (at least somewhat): English, German, and French.

One important caveat - these filters are based on *the language the post indicates it is written in*. If you look at the screenshot above, in the middle right side you see a “Posting language” that is set as “Same as interface language”. And back on the main Preferences screen I have set my “Interface language” to English.

So all my posts are set by default to be in English. However, if I decide to go in and write a post in German or French, by default it will go out to everyone on Mastodon as “English”.

And so even with the filters on, you might still see posts in other languages if the author has their Mastodon client set to default to one of the languages you want to see. But setting these language filters should remove many of the posts in languages you don’t understand.

Setting a Post’s Language

BUT… what if you are a multilingual person and you want to post in multiple languages and allow people to filter based on languages?

In the web view of Mastodon, it’s very simple. When you are writing a post, you simply go to the bottom of the compose window where you will see the two letter abbreviation for whatever your default language is. Mine shows “EN” as English is my default.

screenshot of the window for posting a message to Mastodon showing the menu to change the language

When you press that language, you get a popup menu where you can change it to whatever language you are writing in. 

This changes the language setting ONLY for the post you are writing.

As soon as you hit “Publish!” and the compose window returns to being blank, the language will be reset back to your default language.

So if I wanted to send out a series of German posts or replies, I would have to REMEMBER TO CHANGE THE LANGUAGE SETTING for every single post. Which, to be honest, I will probably forget to do.

Additionally, I cannot find a way to change the language setting for a post in the Mastodon mobile app. When I go into the compose window, I see many options, but not to set the language. Some of the many other mobile apps may have this language support, but the one maintained by the Mastodon development team does not.

For both those reasons - people having to remember, and support on mobile clients - people writing in different languages may have the posts going out as whatever their default language is.

The point being that the language filters are great to have and can help adjust your timelines so that you are seeing content in only languages that you understand - you just need to know that they are not 100% perfect. 

Regardless, I’m very glad that they are there!


Techmeme Now Highlighting Mastodon Posts In Addition to Tweets

Screenshot of a section of the news site with a red box around a section of Mastodon posts.

In a sign of the growth of Mastodon in the midst of the continuing drama at Twitter, Techmeme, the news site I use the most to keep up on tech news, has started to highlight Mastodon posts in addition to the way the site highlights tweets. In fact, in an interesting bit of prioritization, the site puts Mastodon posts first before tweets.

If you go to now, you can see the Mastodon sections for some articles that are discussed on Mastodon. It’s actually an interesting view into what groups of people have moved from Twitter to Mastodon.

For example, at the moment when I am writing this article, the top of Techmeme has 9+ stories all around cryptocurrencies, the FTX debacle, and the latest news of more bankruptcies and other issues. There are no Mastodon sections but this makes sense as most of “crypto twitter” seems to be sticking with Twitter right now… or trying to look at other “web3” social media.

However, when you get past all the cryptocurrency stuff, the next current article is about LastPass and has a large Mastodon section… because a substantial amount of the Twitter “infosec” / security community has moved to Mastodon.

Other articles such as the one I show in the image above have a more balanced mixture of Mastodon posts and tweets. (Although seeing the prevalence of “@geoffreyfowler”, I’m guessing he is cross posting between Mastodon and Twitter and Techmeme’s algorithm has picked up both.) Another example shows the Mastodon posts and tweets combined in a single block (at the time I’m writing this).

It’s great to see this recognition of the growth of Mastodon’s usage. It’s also great because it shows to all the readers of Techmeme who are NOT yet on Mastodon that there *are* conversations happening on Mastodon. Perhaps this may cause some others to try it out!

Techmeme is, of course, on Mastodon themselves. You can follow them at (or search for "@[email protected]” in your Mastodon account).

P.S. As a daily reader of Techmeme, I noticed this change when it was happening, but I must give a tip of the hat to Will Oremus who was the first I saw posting about this change on Mastodon. 

ACM Launches Public Mastodon Server - Mozilla Planning To Launch Fediverse Instance in 2023

The text "MOAR mastodon!!!" on a blue and white gradient background

It’s great to see nonprofit organizations getting into the business of operating public Mastodon / Fediverse instances. Two announcements recently caught my attention.

First, Mozilla, the makers of Firefox, announced that they would launch a public server (“instance”) in early 2023:

In early 2023, Mozilla will stand up and test a publicly accessible instance in the Fediverse at Mozilla.Social. We’re eager to join the community in growing, experimenting, and learning how we can together solve the technical, experience, and trustworthiness challenges inherent in hyper-scale social systems. Our intention is to contribute to the healthy and sustainable growth of a federated social space that doesn’t just operate but thrives on its own terms, independent of profit- and control-motivated tech firms. An open, decentralized, and global social service that puts the needs of people first is not only possible, but it’s absolutely necessary.

Now, they did not specifically say it would be a *mastodon* instance, although I’ve seen many people assume it will be. But if they use some other Fediverse / ActivityPub software, that’s perfectly fine! It will just be great having Mozilla in the Fediverse with their lengthy experience in operating Internet systems at scale.

Second, the 75-year-old Association of Computing Machinery (ACM), has already launched their own publicly available instance at From their intro message, that includes the link to join:

Hi there! This is ACM, the world's largest computing society. As you might have noticed, we have opened not only our official #Mastodon account but also our own #instance! 

Please consider joining, a community for #computing researchers & practitioners to connect & exchange ideas with each other, whether you are an ACM member or not. 

They’ve also tweeted about it and from the server stats it seems 548 people have so far joined.

Addressing The Two Major Challenges

The importance of these entities relates to what I described as two major challenges for operating Mastodon servers: scaling and content moderation.

If we are to bring millions of more people (or even 10s or 100s or millions) into the Fediverse, we will need many more servers. It will be helpful if we have some servers operated by companies or organizations that know how to operate Internet infrastructure at scale. This is what excites me most about Mozilla. With their operation of the Firefox browser, plus services like Pocket and their VPN product, they understand how to do this. They can potentially help provide an example for others.

I don’t know much about whether the ACM can also address the scaling (I’m not a member), but it’s good to see organizations like this getting into the space. The ACM’s announcement, though, does highlight the challenge around content moderation. Already, a couple of people are asking for specifics around content moderation:

screenshot of two Mastodon replies asking the ACM for more details around their content moderation policies

And another apparent member was questioning the ACM’s ability to manage a server.

These are questions that organization will have to be ready to handle.

As Mozilla gets ready to launch their server, they can expect to be similarly grilled about what level of moderation they will or will not do.

It’s tough to find the right balance - which is why I think organizations have to be sure they are ready to commit the necessary staff time, energy, and finances before they plunge into it.

Regardless, I think it is great for both Mozilla and ACM to be entering the Fediverse with their own servers. I wish them all the best!

Two Major Challenges For Operating Mastodon Servers - Scaling and Content Moderation

The text "2 major challenges" on a blue and white gradient background

As more people embrace the decentralized world of the Fediverse - and as we WANT more people to migrate to the Fediverse - we are seeing an explosion of new Mastodon servers/instances set up by all sorts of people and groups. Friends of mine have launched their own just running in simple virtual machines. There are now “Mastodon hosting” springing up - ex., although the person running it has paused new customers due to the high demand.

But there are two major challenges for people or organizations getting into the space:

1 - SCALING - If you just run a small server for yourself and maybe a few friends, you can limit the system administration workload. But if you launch a public server… you have to be able to handle the influx of new accounts, particularly during the current Twitter migration/exodus. This might be very cool initially, but at some point it starts to become a serious amount of work. You have the technical challenges of scaling to support more users - and you also have to meet the expectations of members in terms of availability, reliability, etc. You have to answer their questions, feature requests, etc.

Running a Mastodon server at scale (or really any kind of public server with user accounts) takes a considerable investment of time, energy, and money. You need to think about how you involve multiple people, how you will support all your users, and how you financially support it all.

[UPDATE - It was noted to me that there can be very real technical and cost requirements with growing a server in particular with storing media. Whenever someone uploads an image or video to the server, it must be stored on that server. Additionally, your server will host media coming from other servers with which you are federated. So as your server gains more users, who follow more people on other servers, there is more and more demand for file storage on your server.]

2 - CONTENT MODERATION - This is perhaps the BIGGEST challenge for hosting a public server. If you again run a small server for yourself and people you trust, then this may all be fine. You set clear expectations with your friends or people you think you can trust, and that may be all you need to do.

But the minute you start letting the broader public into your server, you run into all sorts of legal compliance issues you have to be aware of. As the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) recently wrote, there are a range of legal concerns in the USA for operators of any service that hosts “user-generated content”. One big issue is copyright law and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). EFF also mentions FOSTA/SESTA, law enforcement requests for identity information, and child sexual abuse material (CSAM).

And this is just for the USA. Add in the need to potentially comply with European Union (EU) legislation such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or the recently passed Digital Services Act (DSA) and Digital Markets Act (DMA). And… the legislation popping up in many other parts of the world. And, of course, your content moderation abilities needs to be able to grow as you scale to support more users.

[UPDATE - Aswath Rao pointed out in a comment on Mastodon that as a server operator its not enough that you trust the people who have accounts on your server. For every person your users follow on other servers, that person’s content and media are also copied onto your server. So you wind up hosting content on your server from all of those other external users, too. ]

These are also just the legal compliance issues around content moderation. You also have to think about what kind of community you want to foster on your server. Will you have additional moderation policies to create the kind of community you want? (For example, specifically not allowing “hate speech”.) If so, how will you then enforce those policies?

You need to again have the time, energy, and financial resources to be able to comply with the legal requirements, which may end up involving some level of monitoring / enforcement.

For both of those reasons, it will be interesting to see where the Fediverse goes - and in particular where Mastodon goes - in the time ahead. Will we continue to have the wide range of public servers as we do right now? Or over time will we see larger ones emerge that have the time, energy, and financial resources to address these challenges?

Automattic Promotes as a Platform for Email Newsletters (and provides improved support)

Screenshot of's page about setting up a newsletter, with the heading "Sign in. Set up. Send out."

Just as Twitter is killing off it’s Revue newsletter service, Automattic is promoting their hosted service for newsletters - and providing some new tools to make that easier. In their announcement blog post, they note that has already had the features to email posts out automatically. This “newsletter” functionality has been there for quite some time. What they’ve done now, though, is to bring those newsletter features together in a new theme - and they’ve also simplified the process of setting up a newsletter site.

[NOTE - this feature is part of the WordPress.*COM* hosted service, not part of the WordPress software (sometimes referred to as "WordPress.ORG”) that you can install on your own servers. However, they indicate that the theme used for this newsletter feature will be made more widely available in the future.]

In the announcement, they mention these features:

  •     Add unlimited email subscribers
  •     Import subscribers from other platforms
  •     Launch with a beautiful, ready-made theme or customize every detail with a myriad of Block Patterns 
  •     Stylize your newsletter with a background image, site icon, and accent color 
  •     Schedule email publishing
  •     Monetize your site (stay tuned for more paid subscription features)
  •     Use a free .blog subdomain or connect a custom domain with one of our paid plans
  •     Publish on the go with Post by Email – making writing a newsletter as simple as sending an email

They also mention that you can start up a new newsletter or add the features to an existing hosted blog.

Giving It A Try

Naturally, I had to try it out. 😀 I started by going to the newsletter page and simply choosing the link “Start building your newsletter”. I logged in with my existing account and was brought to a page to set up my newsletter:

Wp set up newsletter screen

This was simple and easy. After I took the screenshot I added a logo, which needed to be circular. 

Here is one place Automattic will monetize - the “Favorite color” allowed me to use blue for free. Several other colors are available as part of a premium upgrade.

Next they prompt you to set up a custom domain, and offer you some options while allowing for more. You can, of course, skip this (I did in my test) and just use the free default domain they give you.

screenshot of a screen where you can choose a domain to use with your new site.

As I noted, I skipped this part and just moved on to the new screen where I was asked to choose a plan - or start with a free plan.

screenshot of a screen labeled "choose a plan" with sections for the Personal plan at $4 per month and the Premium plan at $8 per month

I chose for the moment to stick with the free plan for this test. After clicking that link, I had one more screen where I could add some initial email addresses and then… ta da… I was at a screen to start publishing

screen shot of a WordPress editor screen and the works "You're all set to start publishing"


What Do I Think?

First, to be clear, there is not really any dramatically new functionality here. This is how WordPress has worked for quite some time. Even the field for someone to subscribe has been there as part of the “Subscribe Block”.

All that’s really new is this “Newsletter” theme and some of the onboarding screens.

Having said that… I think it can be a great way to get started with a newsletter!

You have all the power of WordPress editing. You can run it on your own domain. You can use it on your laptop or mobile device.

It’s WordPress!

Now, it’s not clear to me that you will get the kind of statistics that you will get from a Substack, Revue or other newsletter platform. I couldn’t see any way to find, for instance, the open rate, or to know how many people clicked which links. Maybe it’s there and I’ve just missed it. Or maybe there is the expectation that you might use Google Analytics for that as part of a paid plan.

I don’t know… and it doesn’t really matter for me, personally. But I could see people who want to use this as a newsletter platform wanting that kind of information.

My one criticism was with the information about the plans. I couldn’t find any easy matrix showing what I get on the free plan versus the paid plans. I could see the features across all the paid plans… but not how that compared to the free plan. It would be helpful to understand as it might cause me to jump into a paid plan.

All in all I think it is a very useful reminder that WordPress can support these kind of interactions over email.

I may consider moving an older newsletter over to this platform and trying it out in 2023.

What do you think about this news?

Mastodon - The Server You Are On Is Most Important When You Are Starting Out

The text "What server are you on?" on a blue gradient background

“How do I choose which Mastodon server to join? It’s SO CONFUSING! I just want to sign up to ‘Mastodon’!” 

This seems to be a common refrain from some people exploring Mastodon as part of the Twitter migration/exodus. 

The reality is that the Mastodon server you join is most important in the beginning when you are trying to discover new users. Over time, and as you follow more and more people, the server you are on becomes less important.

Let me explain...

I routinely point out to people asking these questions that it is a lot like choosing your email provider - do you use the email address your ISP gives you? Or Gmail? Hotmail? Yahoo mail? Protonmail? Or even run your own email server? 

No matter where you have an email address, you can send email to anyone else using email. Similarly, when you sign up on a Mastodon server (or “instance” to use the older term), you can view and interact with people on any other Mastodon server.

But that still doesn’t seem to register for some folks in an era when we are used to centralized, monolithic social platforms. You just join Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or… whatever service. Mastodon is different - you have to make a choice.

I’ve been using Mastodon since December 2016, and in my opinion, which server you are on really matters the most when you are first starting out and seeking to discover new users. Here’s why. In your Mastodon view on the web or in apps, there are three “timelines” (or “feeds”) that you can view:

  • Home - all the posts (or “toots”) of people you follow
  • Local - all the posts of people on your local server
  • Federated - all the posts of people across the Fediverse who are followed by people on your local server[1]

When you are starting out, your home feed will likely be pretty empty, and so Mastodon will be a bit of a ghost town to you. What’s the point of going into it if you only see a couple of posts?

This is where the Local and Federated timelines are important. They help you discover new users to follow.

With the Local timeline, you get to see posts from all the people on your server. So if, for instance, you join, you will discover posts and people to follow interested in technology policy. If you join, you will discover more people interested in art. If you join, you’ll discover posts and people interested in free and open source software. If you join… you guessed it, you’ll discover people interested in IPv6. 😀

Beyond the Local timeline, the Federated timeline will help you discover all the Mastodon users on other servers that people on your server follow. So on, odds are that you will discover other people interested in tech policy, as well as probably tech news sites, and all the other kinds of accounts people there follow. If your account is on, your Federated timeline will probably tend to have more artistic people mixed in. On, your Federated timeline will probably have more people using Linux, developers, and people advocating for free and open source software.

By viewing the Local and Federated timelines, you can find people to follow!

Each person you follow will then start to appear in your Home timeline.

At some point, you will follow enough people that your Home timeline is all you really need to pay attention to. There are sufficient people posting that you only really have the time to read your Home timeline.

The Local and Federated timelines aren’t as important any more. I mean… you still might dip into them from time to time to see if there are new people to discover, but you don’t really need to do so anymore.

This is the key point. The server you choose to join is most important in the beginning when you are trying to find people. But you don’t have to worry too much. Pick one you like and start there.

Over time, much like what email server you are on, it won’t matter quite as much.


[1] Yes, it’s a little more complicated than that, but I’m simplifying for the purpose of this article.

The Term "Weblog" Is 25 Years Old Today

The phrase "Weblog is 25 years old" on a blue gradient background with a birthday cake emoji below it.

By way of a Mastodon post this morning, I learned that the term “weblog” is 25 years old today! 

The Wikipedia article for “Blog” says that the term was coined by Jorn Barger on December 17, 1997. Reading the Wikipedia article about Jorn Barger, we learn:

On December 17, 1997, inspired by Dave Winer's Scripting News and running on Winer's Frontier publishing software, Barger began posting daily entries to his Robot Wisdom Weblog in the hope of finding "an audience who might see the connections between [his] many interests." These postings featured "a list of links each day shaped by his own interests in the arts and technology," thus offering a "day-to-day log of his reading and intellectual pursuits” and coining the term "weblog" as a novel form of web publishing.

At two syllables, “weblog” was of course ripe for shortening and so did evolve into “blog” just a couple of years later.

A “log of daily activities published on the web” became a “weblog” which then became a “blog”.

I started what we now call “blogging” back in 2000 on a site called Advogato that actually referred to your content as a “diary”. But I do remember well that other sites were hosting “weblogs” and “blogs”.

Pretty wild to think that was 25 years ago! Happy Birthday to “weblog”!

Au Revoir Revue! Twitter to Kill Off Newsletter Service at End of 2022 - I Guess I Need To Move My Newsletter!


The text "Au revoir revue" on a blue background

I was a little surprised to learn this morning that Twitter is shutting down its Revue newsletter service. Casey Newton first wrote about this back on November 3 in his Platformer newsletter, but subsequent articles after the massive layoffs confirmed that Revue is shutting down - and basically all the associated staff have been let go.

I had missed all those articles and just randomly saw a reference this morning when scanning social feeds.

It’s NOT actually surprising if you think about the fact that Elon Musk has to be laser-focused on revenue right now, particularly as his self-induced chaos is causing users and advertisers to leave Twitter. Revue was about long-form content published in email - and was not really a quick and easy way to increase advertising 

So as they note, it’s all going away:

  • December 20, 2022 – Revue will set all outstanding paid subscriptions to cancel at the end of their billing cycle
  • January 18, 2023 – Revue will shut down and all data will be deleted

It’s too bad as it was a nice platform… if you were a strong Twitter user.

It had the nice feature that it showed up right on your Twitter profile page, offering people the ability to easily subscribe:

screen shot of a Twitter feed showing a newsletter box in the feed

On the back end, there were some simple tools to easily add tweets into your newsletter.

Also, unlike Substack, you could set up your Revue newsletter with a custom domain, such as I did with

So What Will I Do Next?

As that image shows, I started a newsletter on Revue called “A Choice of Futures” back in October 2021 and published a whopping two issues! 🎉

I had great plans to do more, but ran into several challenges in timing and then got super busy with work and volunteer responsibilities in 2022.

But I was thinking about getting back to it in 2023.

So what now?

could move that newsletter over to Substack, Medium, AWeber, or any of a zillion other places.

Or.. I can just shut down this particular newsletter. 

Realistically, that’s probably what I’ll do. Send one final issue as the period at the end of the sentence, and then be done.

You see… I actually already have a Substack newsletter at called “A View From The Crow’s Nest” where the intent is to write about new technology out on the horizon. It’s an even older newsletter that I used to run through an email service provider. I moved it to Substack back in March 2020 when Substack was getting a lot of attention. I wanted to learn about Substack and it was my intention to start doing more with it.

But then.. pandemic… and so much else of the craziness of COVID-19 and how our world was changing. I dropped that newsletter and so much else, just caught in the moment of trying to make it through each day.

By the time late 2021 came around and I was interested in a newsletter again, I had some concerns about the direction Substack was going… and so I thought I’d give Revue a try.


Turns out the concerns would end up being with where Twitter and Revue were going instead!  (Although I do still have concerns about Substack!)

So that will be my personal plan. I’ve hit the button to export all my data from Revue, and I’ll invite folks there to join my other newsletter on Substack.

Any of you reading this are welcome to join too!


Twitter to Launch Blue, Gold, and Grey Checkmarks in The Next Week

Screenshot of an advertisement for Twitter Blue saying you get the blue checkmark with a verified phone number

Today Twitter announced that starting on Monday, December 12, people can pay either $8 on Android or $11 on IOS to subscribe to “Twitter Blue” where they will get:

  • the blue checkmark
  • the ability to edit tweets
  • prioritized appearance in replies, mentions, and search
  • 50% fewer ads than non-verified people
  • the ability to post longer, 1080p videos
  • early access to other features

This is, of course, the re-launch of the re-launch of Twitter Blue after the disastrous recent attempt where people were quickly paying the $8 to set up all sorts of bogus and troll accounts.

Prioritization = Pay To Speak

The prioritization seems new to me. Was that in earlier versions of Twitter Blue? 

I find it fascinating that so much of the messaging about Twitter has been around “free speech” and leveling the playing field… but yet that messaging seems to run into the need to figure out how to get income. 

For many people in North America, Europe, or other more developed regions of the world, the $8 (or $11) per month might not be a big deal. But for people in MANY parts of the world, that may not be affordable. Will the rate be adjusted for countries where the income levels are substantially different?

How many voices will be diminished because they cannot afford this monthly subscription?

A Land of Many Checkmarks

What I found more interesting was a tweet in the thread:

screenshot of a tweet saying "we’ll begin replacing that “official” label with a gold checkmark for businesses, and later in the week a grey checkmark for government and multilateral accounts"

The text reads:

we’ll begin replacing that “official” label with a gold checkmark for businesses, and later in the week a grey checkmark for government and multilateral accounts

And so Twitter will become a land of many checkmarks.

I don’t see anywhere info about HOW you will get those checkmarks. What is the process to get verified for those? Who will be eligible?

The Gamble Of Who Will Pay

The big question is of course - who will actually pay for this subscription? I see many Elon Musk supporters saying they will do so. But I’m not seeing many others talking about it. Particularly right now when the service seems to be in the midst of so much (mostly self-induced) chaos.

I’ve been on Twitter since 2006 and the service has been my “home” on social media. But right now, I don’t see myself paying for Twitter Blue amidst the chaos… and to be honest I don’t yet see the value in the subscription. (And also because I’m increasingly finding richer discussions over on Mastodon.)

Would you pay for Twitter Blue? 

With Twitter in Chaos, What is Plan B for a TwitterSpaces Alternative?

The words "Plan B?" on a blue-gray gradient background

I am a huge fan of TwitterSpaces! I enjoy hosting and participating in live audio TwitterSpaces. In fact, I’m hosting one later today!

It’s a great system and service to have live audio conversations. Easy for people to join and use. Easy to manage in terms of moderation. Easy to promote and publicize, particularly with the scheduling, and because you have your existing network of Twitter connections. The “live bar” in the mobile apps also helps people discover your Space, as does Twitter’s algorithm in promoting the Space to your followers and others. The user interface works for me, although I do wish web browser participants could participate versus just listen. Live transcription is great, as are the recordings.

All in all, I really like the service and want to continue doing TwitterSpaces.

BUT… with all the (mostly self-induced) chaos happening at Twitter right now, and the fact that a good number (most? all?) of the TwitterSpaces developers were let go in all the layoffs, I do wonder how much of a future there is. I’ll keep using it… but will the service stop working some day? Do TwitterSpaces fit into whatever grand plan there may or may not be?

So the question is…for those of us who want to engage in live “social audio"... what are the alternatives to TwitterSpaces?

Reddit Talk

I am most intrigued by Reddit Talk as the service provides most all of the features of TwitterSpaces, with the addition that web browser users can be full participants in the Talk (unlike Twitter).

The user interface is similar to TwitterSpaces, particularly in the mobile apps. Raising hands and moderating users is a similar experience. As a moderator you can check out the potential speakers by looking at their Reddit profiles and their “karma” points (a measure of engagement on Reddit). You can easily bring people on stage - and just as easily remove them.

Reddit added a “sound board” before Twitter did, and it has some nice jazzy music you can play while waiting for a talk to start. Talks can be recorded and stay around indefinitely (versus 30 days on Twitter). You can schedule them in advance and easily promote their URL. Comments are integrated into the “post” for the talk.

There are three things I miss from TwitterSpaces. First is the lack of an ability to spotlight content during a Talk, as you can share tweets into a Space and thus focus attention on the tweet in the conversation. You can of course post this as a comment in the Reddit post and direct people there, which is almost better because it is easily accessible after the Talk is over. But it doesn’t have the same effect as sharing into a Space in terms of helping guide the conversation.

Second, there is no live transcription as there is in a TwitterSpace. From an accessibility point of view, I think the transcription is great.

Third, there is no easy way to get any kind of analytics about how many people listened to your Talk or participated. I mean, TwitterSpaces don’t have much either, but they at least tell you: 1) how many people have listened to your talk in total; and 2) how many people listened live. That’s at least something that can help you understand how much engagement you have.

Overall, though, I like the Reddit Talk experience a lot!

A challenge for some people will be that Reddit Talks can only be done with a “subreddit” (a community), and only initiated by a moderator of the subreddit unless the “mods” have authorized you as a user to create Talks. If you are already a Redditor, and have a subreddit with a following, this may not be an issue. And the good news is that anyone can create a brand new subreddit where they are the moderator. But if you are doing that, you are essentially starting over in creating a new social graph.

And some people may have a challenge because it’s… well… Reddit... and the site’s reputation for trolls and bad behavior affects many people’s views of the site. I’ve been a long-time Redditor and would argue that there are many strong, positive, and non-troll-infested communities… but I grant that it can be an issue.

LinkedIn Audio Events

Wait… LinkedIn has social audio? Yes, indeed, you can now host LinkedIn Audio Events (see also this PDF that walks through the service).  I hosted an Audio Event the other day and it does provide a very basic audio experience. You set it up within LinkedIn as an event. You must schedule the audio event - you can’t just “go live” right at that moment, but you can schedule it for 5 or 10 minutes from the time you are creating the event… so that’s close enough. When you create the event, you can:

  • Add a cover image related to your event
  • Add a description with information about what you will be discussing
  • List any speakers who will be participating from your LinkedIn connections. Apparently after they confirm they will appear in the event information. (I did not test this.)

Once you publish the event it goes out in your activity feed where your connections may see it.

The one struggle I had was that after I hit the publish button… I could not find the event! 🤦‍♂️

I was just back on my LinkedIn home page.. and couldn’t see my new event anywhere. I had to go into my profile and into my Activity Feed to find it again and join the event. Hopefully I just missed something in the user interface, but I found this confusing.

The event itself went fine. Two people I know saw the announcement in their LinkedIn feeds and joined in, so I was able to test a bit.

On the plus side, the audio sounded good, and the real-time transcription was pretty amazing. LinkedIn being the kind of site it is, it was also very easy to see the other people in the chat and whether you are connected or not - and then make those connections.

Being just another form of a LinkedIn “Event”, there are also analytics about how many people attended the event live, and also how many have viewed it over time. If you have more than 10 attendees, it seems you will get demographic info about the jobs, industries, locations, etc., which makes sense given that LinkedIn has all of that.

One negative for me was that it seems you can only be in the Audio Event once as yourself. I started out in the web interface and then thought I’d join on the LinkedIn mobile app. Doing so kicked me out of the web interface.

While this may sound strange to want to do, and was probably NOT on the LinkedIn developer’s requirement lists, it’s actually been enormously helpful for both TwitterSpaces and Reddit Talks to be able to have yourself in the session on two different devices. Yes, you need to adjust volume and muting so you don’t create feedback loops, but it can be helpful operationally.

Anyway, this is just something to know if you try LinkedIn Audio Events.

Other differences are that, as LinkedIn notes on a help page:

At the moment, Audio Events cannot be recorded or replayed after the event has ended. Audio Events have no video, screen sharing or text chat.

Now, while you don’t have a live text chat, you can leave comments on the event page in LinkedIn, in a similar fashion to a Reddit Talk or replying to the Space on Twitter, so there is a way 

The other services all do offer recordings, and perhaps this is something LinkedIn will develop over time.

Another note - Audio Events are only available right now for individuals on LinkedIn, not for pages that organizations and companies have.

Otherwise, it has many of the same features as the others, as described in the “Host an Audio Event” section of a help page. There’s a maximum of 17 speakers (which is plenty, to me) and basic controls to bring someone on stage and off.

One would think that, with LinkedIn being all about establishing and maintaining your professional reputation, there would be fewer moderation issues with regard to trolls and people seeking to disrupt a session (versus Twitter Spaces or Reddit Talk).

Without the recording feature, I’m not personally interested in doing as much with LinkedIn Audio Events… but they could be an option.

Spotify Live

Once upon a time (well, in 2020), an app launched called “Locker Room” to host live conversations about… sports! It was then acquired by Spotify who renamed it first to “Greenroom” and then to “Spotify Live”. (Read the history.) I used it a number of times while it was Greenroom and it was a decent service, although only accessible through the mobile app.

It’s not clear to me whether this remains a viable option. Back in April 2022 when Spotify renamed it to Spotify Live, they also announced live sessions would be merged into the main Spotify app. The theory was that the hundreds of millions of Spotify users could find and listen to live sessions. People would still need to use the separate app to participate in the live sessions, but discovery would be easier. They still mention his on their “live on Spotify” web page. Spotify also said it would be streaming its original live events through the main app.

Eight months later, I’m not sure how this is working. When I go into the main app on my iPhone, I can’t find any way to see the “Live on Spotify” items. And when I go into the Spotify Live app, it’s a dead zone. There were only four live “rooms” and they only had one or two people in them… and in the time I was in them, I didn’t hear any audio! Now, I was doing this early in the morning US Eastern, but I would have expected some European activity. There are some rooms scheduled over the weekend, and perhaps they’ll have audiences.

But right now, I’m not getting the vibe that it’s a strong option.


I could, of course, return to Clubhouse, where the whole "social audio" thing emerged in 2020 in the midst of the pandemic.

could, but part of the reason I left Clubhouse was because it was completely rebuilding a social network, and I have already spent the time doing that in other services. What I like about TwitterSpaces is it leverages my existing social graph on Twitter. Similarly, Reddit Talk leverages the membership of a given subreddit, and LinkedIn leverages your existing connections.

Plus, as has been outlined in many posts, Clubhouse has had a range of mis-steps and issues. When I go into the app it has a ghost town feel to me. They did finally add web listening, but like TwitterSpaces on the web, you can’t really engage.

I just don’t see Clubhouse as a really viable option for me. Maybe it will work for some of you.

So.. what is Plan B?

I don’t know. Of the options I outlined above, I’m going to continue experimenting with Reddit Talk, and I’ll be curious to see if LinkedIn adds recording capability.

Overall, though, I hope that TwitterSpaces can continue. I’ve noticed that Elon Musk seems to enjoy participating in Spaces. He had one last Saturday with over one million listeners! So perhaps he’ll work to ensure that there are appropriate developers and engineers to keep it all working.

We’ll see! In the meantime, I’ll keep my ears open...

What do you think could be a good alternative?

Mastodon, Nonprofits, and the need for *some* kind of basic analytics to help justify spending time and resources

three question marks on a blue grey background

Why aren’t there more nonprofits using Mastodon? Why aren’t there more small businesses? What is taking these organizations so long? Shouldn’t they be already here?

These are questions I’ve seen raised repeatedly on Mastodon, and I’ve been asked directly about some of the organizations I’m involved with.

One challenge most nonprofits have was highlighted over on Reddit when Ben Jancewicz asked a question in r/mastodon:

Among many other things, I run social media accounts for large organizations.

Many of these large organizations are moving to Mastodon.

These organizations require reports; they want to know how their account is performing. Things like new followers, reshares, clicks, that sorta thing.

Is there an but for Mastodon?

His question was unfortunately answered with a lot of criticism, and initially many “down votes” (which, on Reddit, can reduce or remove the visibility of a post).

I answered at some length… which became the basis for this post.

I think some folks in the thread were confusing the request for info *about the performance of your Mastodon account* with advertising and surveillance. But the question was NOT about ads or tracking visitors. It was about just getting very basic engagement analytics - which unfortunately are not readily available right now on Mastodon.

Having being involved with nonprofits for many years (as an employee, volunteer, board member, donor), there are some simple realities about nonprofits and communication / marketing:

  1. Most nonprofits don't have much money.
  2. What money they do have comes from donors who are giving to the organization to advance the mission of the organization and expect their donations to be spent for delivering on that mission.
  3. Most donors (and boards) do not view "talking about the organization" as part of the core mission. It is viewed as "administration" or overheard.
  4. Therefore most nonprofits have small communications budgets and teams.
  5. This often means that engaging with people on social media is handled by a very small number of people (maybe only one or even part of a person's time). Similarly, they often have a small IT team... or may not have any at all and use an external vendor.
  6. Those communications staff are usually buried in work because they are being asked to do so many things to communicate about the organization.
  7. With limited time and budget, the nonprofit needs to prioritize their activities to where they can engage with the most people in order to advance their mission.
  8. The nonprofit needs to justify to its donors why it is spending time / money on any activities.

Think about it… if you donate $100 to a local nonprofit organization helping feed people in your region (a food shelf, food bank, food pantry, etc.), most people would ideally like as much of that $100 to go to FOOD, versus to communicating about the organization's services.

But... the organization NEEDS to use social media / networking to communicate to potential audiences, to help people learn about its services, to find volunteers, to attract more donors, and just to engage with the community around it. Most nonprofits *want* to be part of their larger community, whether that is regional or global.

Centralized services like Facebook and Twitter make this easy because they can provide all sorts of stats and analytics about how many people see your content, how often things are shared, etc. They even provide nice charts and trends over time. You can go back to your donors and board and say "by spending our time/$$ in posting to Facebook, we've been able to reach X people. They have further shared our info with Y more people. We've had Z people 'like' our content, so we know at least that many people are seeing our info. Our account has been followed by N other orgs in our community/region", etc.

Of course, the platforms provide this info because they want to sell you ads, but even if you never buy an ad (because you may not have budget), these analytics help you justify WHY you are spending time on the platforms. You have a measure (which may be inaccurate, but it is *a* measure) that you can relay.

So if the person involved with social media wants to expand into using Mastodon, they need to be able to justify to their donors and board about WHY they are spending their time setting up a Mastodon account, sending out messages, interacting with people, etc.

The donors and or board will have questions like:

  • how many people are you reaching?
  • how many people are learning about the organization?
  • are you spending our money wisely?
  • or are you wasting our money experimenting with something that isn't going anywhere?
  • shouldn't you be spending your time on Facebook or Twitter where we can know how many people are seeing our information?

With limited time and resources, nonprofit staff have to be able to justify any use of their time. 10 minutes spent on Mastodon is 10 minutes NOT spent on some other social platform.

One common reply was that “these organizations should just run their own Mastodon server!” Running your own Mastodon instance may be possible for larger nonprofits with IT teams, but may not be for smaller organizations without any IT support. Even then, the information you get may or may not be useful (I've not administered a Mastodon instance, so I don't know). And with posts/toots being federated, I'm not even sure what server logs would realistically show, since the posts are being viewed on servers all across the Fediverse.

Ultimately, if we want more nonprofits to move off of centralized services like Twitter and move over to decentralized services like Mastodon and the rest of the Fediverse, we need to help those nonprofit staff be able to justify why spending their time on Mastodon is a good thing! Hopefully over the months and years ahead, tools will emerge to help with this kind of information.

For the moment, I think the only option is what Anil Dash suggested in a thread that nonprofits need to view using Mastodon as a future investment.. but the question is whether resource-starved nonprofits even have the staff time to do that.

P.S. While I focused on nonprofits, you could equally say this for small businesses, just thinking of "investors" (which could just be the owner) instead of "donors".

The Beauty of Ad-free Mastodon Versus an Ad-full Twitter

Twitter ads

This morning I opened up the Twitter app on IOS and found myself surprised - and annoyed - by how many ads I was seeing. I started counting:

1, 2, ad, 1, 2, 3, 4, ad, 1, 2, 3, 4, ad, 1, 2, 3, 4, ad, 1, 2, 3, 4, ad….

I repeated this several times after refreshing the feed. It seems that there’s an initial ad after 2 or 3 tweets, and then the pattern was consistent - every fifth tweet was an ad!

Repeating this in the web browser, the count looked like:

1, ad, 1, 2, 3, 4, ad, 1, 2, 3, 4, ad, 1, 2, 3, 4, ad, 1, 2, 3, 4, ad...

I wondered in a tweet if Twitter’s advertising was always this intrusive and I had just not noticed… or if Twitter in their desperation was just pushing more ads?

Or, as I put at the end, is that I am now used to Mastodon with no ads?

I don’t know whether Twitter is pushing more ads now or if it has always been this way, but I do think my perception this Monday morning is probably because I *have* been using Mastodon far more than Twitter these days. (You can find me there at )

And there is a beauty there in NOT drowning in ads!

Now, to be clear, someone has to pay for the servers and services needed to run any social network. Twitter has chosen to do so via advertising, as has Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and pretty much every other social media service.

I you choose NOT to rely on advertising, as Mastodon servers (a.k.a. “instances”) are right now, you have to have some other business model. Some I’ve seen include:

  • Individual server operators just paying for the server / services themselves (can work on a small scale)
  • Donation pages / requests via services like Patreon
  • Operation by a nonprofit that is supported by donations of various forms
  • Operation by a commercial company

I thought I saw someone setting up a Mastodon server and requiring payment to have an account on the system, i.e. a subscription of sorts. I can’t find that site right now, but I could totally see someone doing that.

The beautiful thing about the decentralization and federation of Mastodon and other “Fediverse” servers is that people can try out MANY different business models and find what works for them.

And right now, there is a strong ethos within the Mastodon community to not have advertising and to rely on these other models. People are encouraging other users to help sponsor whatever server you are using. So far this seems to be working… although we’ll see as more and more people migrate to Mastodon.

I do expect that at some point we may see some Mastodon servers supported by advertising. But it may be more in the form of banner ads or other display ads on the Mastodon web interface, versus the intrusive ads directly in the feed. (Ads in a feed would probably quickly be blocked by admins of other Mastodon servers!)

We’ll see. But in the meantime, for as long as I can I’m going to continue enjoying the ad-free experience over on Mastodon! See you there!

Mastodon Grows To Over 8,000,000 Users (and probably more)

Screenshot of two charts showing the growth in Mastodon users and posts. The top graph is a greenish-blue and the bottom is a reddish brown

Boom! About six hours ago, one count of Mastodon users crossed over 8,000,000 users! The latest hourly count of the @mastodonusercount bot as I write this is:

8,015,904 accounts
+2,333 in the last hour
+54,536 in the last day
+398,175 in the last week

It’s fascinating to watch the growth:

12 days to grow from 6 to 7 million, and then 15 days to grow from 7 to 8 million. How long will it take to grow to 9 million?

A key point is … this is NOT the total count of ALL Mastodon users!

As noted in the bot description, it is the "User Count Bot for all known Mastodon instances”.  The key word there is “known”. Mastodon is a decentralized network where anyone can set up their own Mastodon server. They don’t have to tell anyone. They don’t have to ask permission. They just gave to download the source code and set up their own server.

They can then choose to federate - or not - with other Mastodon servers. It is certainly possible that there are more Mastodon servers out there that haven’t been incorporated into this count.

Still, this is a “good enough” approximation of the user count to be able to look at the phenomenal growth. I’m excited to see where this all goes!

Congrats to all involved!

And of course you can find me there at (or search on @[email protected] )

The Ongoing Twitter Migration is a Reminder That on the Internet, There Are No Permanent Favorites

Text: on the Internet, there are no permanent favorites

The ongoing Twitter migration highlights one of the characteristics of the Internet that colleagues wrote about back in 2012 in what they called the “Internet Invariants”:

There are no permanent favorites.

We remember MySpace. AltaVista. Friendster. And SO MANY others..

In their moment, they seemed THE place to be.

And then suddenly they weren’t.

Twitter will fade, as will Facebook/Meta, and all the others.

New things will emerge. In time, they, too, will fade.

The cycle continues.


[Originally shared on Mastodon - ]