I’m hoping that the recent interest in Mastodon will get people to start thinking more about taking control of their data and online identity. Mastodon has a great shot at recreating that feeling of community that personal blogs used to have. It can be your own space.
This is a great post as usual. I wouldn’t expect anything less from Paul who’s blog is updated 3-4 times a year always with posts worth leaning back and not only learning something but changing how I think about a certain technology. Always inspiring.
I am only quoting this bit at the end because I’m worried Mastodon will suffer a similar fate as many other services. Yes Mastodon is a protocol versus a platform. That’s a good thing but when a server or group of servers go truly mainstream, there’s a possibility of greed wielding its head. Aggregation theory will kick in and we’ll slowly re-create Twitter even if that aggregator is just one of many federated servers. The South Park Episode about WalMart comes to mind. They burn down WalMart only to build up another store to be just as big then burn that one down again. Humans are lazy and aggregating is just what we do.
I’m going to put my money where my mouth is and run my own Mastodon instance. I like that people can follow me (like they do the RSS feed I publish here) but owning your IP also means owning your box on the internet.
The realization that my Mastodon posts can’t move with me between servers is even more scary. Why would I devote years of my life posting to someone’s instance and lose all of my posts when that instance closes down since I can’t migrate posts out? That’s a serious flaw and flies in the face of data portability efforts many advocates have been working for.
Here’s the relevant bit from Mastodon’s documentation:
Requesting an archive of your posts and media can be done once every 7 days, and can be downloaded in ActivityPub JSON format. Mastodon currently does not support importing posts or media due to technical limitations, but your archive can be viewed by any software that understands how to parse ActivityPub documents.
The only way to remove this issue is to host my own version on my box which I’m working on. This is going to keep happening to us. As long as there are people on the Internet who aren’t tech-savvy, aggregation and laziness are going to continue prevailing.