I’ve spent a lot of time lately contemplating how I feel about Elon Musk taking over Twitter, and specifically about how I feel about the exodus to Mastodon that I see happening. As with many things happening online today I notice the emotionally charged nature of what is going on, which immediately leaves me wanting to slow down when it comes to making any decisions. I have spent countless hours thinking about the tools that I use, what my overall digital footprint is, and choosing to abandon or introduce services into my is always weighed against my bigger picture. I am very interested in using Mastodon, and supporting the open source specifications, standards, and code it is built on, but I want to make sure it fits into my overall digital stack in a sensible way.
Twitter plays a very central and complex role in my world, something that Mastodon might be able to replicate, but I am not sure of this from where I stand right now. At first glance Twitter and Mastodon are social channels for me, but they are also a communication tool, a media platform, and so much more. So it makes sense that I weigh where Mastodon fits into my overall digital footprint, and assess whether it will help or hurt my overall approach to managing my digital self. Let’s walk through the landscape of my digital self, beginning with the social layers, but then work through the bigger picture digital realm to consider where Mastodon fits into the picture—breaking down each service I use, but distilling down the digital resources and capabilities they provide for me.
Twitter has long been the center of my social universe, but there are a handful of other channels that I depend upon. Due to the decline on Twitter, and an uptick on LinkedIn, I have noticed my social landscape shifting lately. I am also watching my co-worker at work Joyce experiment and find success using TikTok as part of her “devrelian” performance. This is where most of the performance that is Kin Lane and API Evangelist is occurring on a daily basis.
- Twitter - Posts, Images, Videos, Relationships
- Facebook - Posts, Images, Videos, Relationships
- LinkedIn - Posts, Images, Videos, Relationships
- Instagram - Images, Videos, Relationships
- TikTok - Images, Videos, Relationships
I’d say that most of these, except for Twitter, are just broadcast channels. I don’t consume much information across Facebook and LinkedIn. Occasionally I will tune into Instagram or TikTok, but rarely. Twitter and LinkedIn are really the places I see the most engagement, with what I do as the API Evangelist and chief Evangelist for Postman. However, I think that this is ripe for change, which is one of the reasons I am writing this post assessing where I stand.
I can’t assess the overall state of my social landscape without thinking about the shifts in how I communicate across work and the communities I am part of. While there is plenty that occurs online via Twitter and other social channels, much of the conversation over the last five years has gone indoors via a handful of common channels.
- Slack - Messages, Documents, Videos, Images, Relationships
- Teams - Messages, Documents, Videos, Images, Relationships
- Discord - Messages, Documents, Videos, Images, Relationships
I much prefer conversation happening out in the open when it comes to my API work, but like with Twitter and Mastodon, the communities I am part of have increasingly fragmented across many channels. Honestly, I find it very difficult for me to keep up with things across all of these channels, but I’d like to find ways to optimize and help prioritize what I tune into—so I can find more signal within all of the noise.
Augmenting the communication channels I depend on, my core dependence on Google for my productivity provides bedrock for my day. Email is a fundamental cornerstone of how I communicate, but also how I consume information via newsletters and other email threads. While I am dependent on a variety of Google productivity apps, email I think holds the most important lessons for me as I assess the role Mastodon can play in my world.
- Gmail - Email, Tasks
- Fastmail - Email
- Google Calendar - Events
- Google Drive - Documents, Spreadsheets, Presentations, Drawings
I don’t use Google for my Kin Lane and API Evangelist domains. I used to run my own email server, but I find that Fastmail provides the solid base I need to communicate each day. While it may be a better idea to use an existing Mastodon server, I am feeling like I need to learn the inner workings of the platform, and feel the pain a little, before I hand over control. Maybe as part of this exploration I will see if there are any Mastodon server as a service solutions out there, providing something similar to what Fastmail does for me when it comes to email.
Video plays a significant role in my digital world, but there are many ways in which I produce and consume media each day, actively making it as part of my day. I use this media across my social and communication channels. Sometimes the media is created by me, but other times the media is something produced by others, and I am merely consuming it. Regardless, this aspect of my digital landscape has exploded over the last couple of years, and I am looking to get a handle on it, and automate things more.
- Youtube - Videos
- Zoom - Videos, Meetings
- SoundCloud - Podcasts, Music
- Spotify - Podcasts, Music
- Audible - Books, Audio
As part of my assessment of Mastodon I will look at how it handles video and other media. I have been exploring using Twitter spaces, streaming on LinkedIn, and other media outlets, so I want to see how Mastodon sizes up and helps expand my reach when it comes to this visual aspect of my storytelling. For me, Twitter is mostly about words, but recently it has been shifting to be more visual and I’m looking to understand what audio opportunities there are.
Before I go any further I have to deal with this lump of foundational solutions I use to deliver my platform. Everything we’ve talked about so far feeds into my domain, which is managed across these key services. I am a big proponent of all roads leading to my domains, and I have invested a lot over the years to dial in my platform to always be API-first, but also operating within one of the 5+ domains I use to shape my world. These are the most important services I depend on to do what it is that I do each day.
- GitHub - Code, Repos, Artifacts, Pipelines, Websites
- Visual Studio - Code, Editor
- Postman - APIs, Collections, Environments, Monitors
- Amazon Web Services - API Gateway, Serverless, Database, Storage
- Hover - Domains, DNS
- Cloudflare — Domains, DNS, Analytics, SSL
All of my web and project sites run on Github. I use Postman and AWS to deliver all of my API resources and capabilities, and Hover and Cloudflare are essential for all the addressing to my sites and APIs. These services are how I currently build my world. Everything in my world either exists as a single page application that runs on Github, or is an API supported via a public Postman API workspace. Twitter has played a significant role in how I obtain the information I publish across my sites, get the word out about content I publish, but also automate a lot of my work across my domains.
Seeing the Big Picture
Now that I have my digital resources and capabilities loaded up in my head I can begin contemplating where Mastodon fits in. After reading more about the platform, digesting a handful of useful guides from people I know and follow about migrating from Twitter to Mastodon, and looking through the Mastodon API, I am confident that there is a place for Mastadon in my stack. Now the real question is, will it rise to the occasion and become part of my daily routine, and will it become the backbone of my storytelling operations. Only time will tell. There are just too many other things to consider before I can predict the stickiness and seamlessness of Mastodon and the “Fediverse”.
The State of Twitter
I don’t have much confidence that Twitter will be able to drive itself out of the ditch that Elon Musk has driven it into. I kind of feel like this is intentional. IDK. Elon Musk is such a toxic individual, and the people he has emboldened are just going to make Twitter an even more unbearable place. I support everyone in leaving Twitter, but ultimately I am not sold on the fact that Mastodon is the answer to what ails us, and that the same negative network effects will emerge there. I have also invested a lot in Twitter over the years and it won’t be easy for me to walk away. I still believe it is the most important API out there. Whether that continues to be true—check in with me in a couple of weeks or months.
The State of the Fediverse
I love all the reasons why folks are getting into the “Fediverse” right now. Open standards — hell yeah!! Interoperability—damn straight! I can pick my communities and own my data—the way it should be. But the Fediverse doesn’t mean all the problems that has plagued Twitter will go away. I am pretty skeptical these days regarding the ability for anyone to come in and mess up a good technological thing, no matter if it is done with APIs, open source, or magic. I may be jaded at this point, but I am willing to believe and give it a try. I am eager to think about this layer o fly social world in a federated way. Honestly, Mastodon isn’t all that different from email, except it is just a more exhibitionist version of communication. All the technological moving parts are the same, and my use of Google, but also Fastmail above probably reflects a little about how I’ll approach my different Mastodon instances. Regardless, it provides me with a new way to approach my social, communication, and automation strategy, but in a more federated way.
What Made Twitter
In my opinion, one of the most important aspects that made Twitter what it was in the early days was the blend of humans in the form of journalists, storytellers, and I guess you’d call them influencers now, but also the automation and embed ability of the platform using the API. What made Twitter was the New York Times and other media outlets adopting Twitter. Will they do this with Mastodon? Twitter is also getting baked into the government as an information sharing solution. Will they do this with Mastodon? There are a lot of network effects that need to happen before Mastodon will replace Twitter, and honestly I am not sure that it will be able to happen again. That might be a good thing, or it might not be such a good thing. Only time will tell. There is a lot of history present on Twitter, despite it all being set afire by Elon Musk. At this point I’ll stick around and watch things burn, and will be slowly lighting up my little portion of the Fediverse.
Always Questioning My Digital Self
I will always be questioning the digital channels I adopt. What is happening with Twitter has happened before and will continue happening. It is just part of how we will be perpetually making sense of our digital selves in the future. I’ve signed up for a Mastodon account under the asyncapi.social domain. Eventually I will set up my own for the Kin Lane and API Evangelist domains. However, I want to weigh the information architecture tradeoffs that exist when living in the Fediverse. Wait. Does email live in the Fediverse? Oh well, lots of thinking to do on this front. It is a type of thinking I like to do, but honestly I am a little tired lately. My digital self feels very thin, and I am unsure I have the fire in my belly to get all worked up about all of this. We’ll see. I’ll keep doing some storytelling on this and see where it all goes.
Ego and Audience
There is another area I wanted to add into the mix. The question of rebuilding the audience I’ve assembled over the years at Twitter and the role Twitter plays on a daily basis in stroking my ego. It is nice to know that when I Tweet something out that someone is there to read it. And of course I want to find my people in the Mastodon realm. Ultimately I’ll use the same strategy I used to assemble 17k followers on Twitter. Stick with what I do best. Telling stories about the intersection of APIs and technology, business, and politics. The rest will work itself out. I’ll simultaneously be exploring new storytelling opportunities on LinkedIn, TikTok and other possible channels, all while staying active here in my own domain—where it matters the most. I was reminded in an interview with someone today of the important role that my followers, fans, and people across all the communities I engage with play in my mental health and keeping me playing this game. So I need to consider this piece of the equation.
Mastodon in My Stack
I am optimistic about the role Mastodon can play in my overall API stack. It isn’t just social for me. It is about communication, media, and storytelling. I refuse to begin mourning Twitter. I am eager about the technology landscape continuing to evolve. I am eager to reach out to all my people and learn about what they are doing when it comes to being available via social networks, communicating with friends and business connections. Who knows. Maybe Maston installed via my own servers within my own domains can become the storytelling automation machine I always worked to bend Twitter to be, but couldn’t ultimately get there outside of my domain. Honestly, I am just as eager about email and email newsletters right now as I am about Mastodon or RSS. Sounds weird to say, but it is true. Some of my best information in any given week comes via an email newsletter. Ultimately it all just tells me that things will just keep changing across this digital landscape we keep building, and I just need to always remain adaptive, but stick to my overall domain and API strategy, and I will be fine.