I wrote about Mastodon the other day. Here's the piece I wrote on ZDNet :

I'm impressed with its growth and stability so far. I'll be watching closely as brands try to work out how to monetize this new audience 😊

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@eileenb welcome. :) Please follow @GNOME, @KDE, @elementary and others for your open source/free software desktop news :)

@elementary @kdeplanet @gnome @eileenb Thanks for the correction. I was just throwing it out there. :) I wish there was autocomplete. :P

@sri Seems to autocomplete in the web instance. Apps are probably still going to take a while to catch up :)

@elementary I'm using firefox.. oh I see the issue, it's really slow. :D

@eileenb @elementary if you follow my timeline, you'll see devfolks from various desktops and companies. - ubuntu, system76, kde, gnome, solus etc, feel free to add them.

@sri @elementary will have a look tomorrow.. Drinking wine this evening 😊

@eileenb @elementary an excellent way to spend the time. Sadly it never stops with just one glass ;)

@eileenb @elementary regarding the issue of brand protection on Mastodon. I would say one could create a server with your brand. So say nike.mastodon would have all the Nike branded accounts. It would be very difficult to enforce otherwise. For GNOME I would propose a for instance. Something similar can be done, with other companies

@eileenb I don't think people here want brands and "being monetized"

@eileenb I think you will see less brands monetizing this audience and more as brands make use of the open source code to create their own internal social media networks.

@Frankenbeans now that will be interesting. Jive, yammer, chatter, seem to have the corporate social all tied up.. Will be interesting to see its progress

@eileenb I asked a friend of mine who created his own Instance last week what would stop me from turning a Raspberry Pi into a neighborhood social media network totally disconnected from the fediverse. His answer: Time and $40. On the other hand, my main instance only has 6,000 users, and lots of them are clamoring for tools to narrow their federated timeline. Where's the ROI for a brand to capitalize on that small audience?

@Frankenbeans yeah, but a brand that publishes across the federated timeline has many opportunities to connect with new audiences..

@eileenb People are really looking to pare down what appears in their federated timeline, not boost what is available. Given what has driven most people to Mastodon, it's my suspicion that trying to go deep into federated would be mostly wasted effort.

@Frankenbeans true, when we have found enough quality folks to follow.
Until then, I'll be on the look out for awesome people who may just have joined, but are interesting enough to follow...

@eileenb As @woozle noted, when epistemic (media) systems gain significance, the attract attention:

"Because of a high percentage of the population being present, there is now substantial power to be had by influencing the discussions that take place."

Or more accurately: as there are /returns/ to influencing an audience, those influencers will appear: direct & brand marketing, propagandists, polemicists.

So yes, the brands ... will come, like it or not.

@woozle @eileenb I see a fairly common progression of interests within a new media channel. Not necessarily in the following order, but close:

1. Technicians -- "shop talk"
2. Artistics and creatives, avant garde.
3. Organisations for internal use: business, government, academia, religion, etc.
4. External comms, management, monitoring, discussion.
5. Direct marketing.
6. Mass entertainment.
7. Mass marketing.
8. Propaganda and polemicists.

Merely changing platforms changes nothing.

@dredmorbius @woozle I like the sound of that... Now all you need is a team to build it :)

@dredmorbius @woozle @eileenb unless the medium itself has functions which combat or repel certain elements. For example the avant garde can't stand Nazis. And an instance full of brands may be regarded as spam. Corporations have very little say in open-source spaces.

@will Sure, but it also depends on those elements' capacities to change the rules themselves.

Bob Dylan: "Money doesn't shout, it swears."

Informational activities which are subsidised by, or reward, financial interests, or political interests, have a capacity to dominate pretty much anything else. Epistemic systems whose incentivisation is /anything but/ seeking deeper truth ... will return that, and /not/ truth.

RAW: Celine's 2nd law.

@woozle @eileenb

@dredmorbius @woozle @eileenb but like, if I run my own email server with me and 100 of my friends, and #brands are annoying, I'll just add them to my spam filter, ya know? This is a semi-solved problem.

The key, as usual, is for spammers to act like they're not spammy so people don't ignore/block/unfollow them. But by giving the power of instance creation to people, there's always an escape chute.

@will Check your priors: /if/ you run your own email server:

* You can afford a server. OK, falling bar, Raspberry Pi, $5, falling 10x per decade
* You can afford a broadband connection. Not ... too unreasonable
* Persistant network connection and address. This is a complexity bar
* Systems administration. Now we're at 5-8% of the population or less. Likely /much/ less. (OECD computer skills survey)
* Systems security
* Spam and abuse
* Content liability

Who can do this?

@will What's a /sufficient/ number of the population able to do this for it to bust out of the / media lockdown level?
Can the fundamentally nontechnical (process, organisational, interactive, legal) elements ever be addressed with technology?

And even if you've got all that ... you and 100 of your friends are there. What if you want to talk to someone /outside/ that group of 100?

The problem I face is in finding the people interested in the same problems as me.

@will That might be 100, might be 1,000. But they're kinda scattered all over the place. And it's hard to convince them to join Yet Another Instance of ... something.

I've been wrestling with that problem for ~30 years, though seriously maybe for the past 5-10.

Present iteration of Internet tech doesn't do much -- Web 2.0 stuff.

I've even tried finding my tribe, or tribes-of-intelligence. They're ... scarce.

@dredmorbius @will
Is the bar "who can run an email server" or "who can run an email server that isn't shitty, insecure, and bound to become a spampot"?

Because in the former case, only the first three points count. (I.e., anybody with $5 and a broadband connection can run their own whatever server.)

@will Wilson wrote "Accurate communication is possible only in a non-punishing situation."

That's only half right.

You also get inaccurate communication where you reward anything /other/ than accurate, informational comms.

* "Publish or perish."
* Social status
* "Honest signalling" (honest or otherwise)


You might be able to scare off brands be creating a space that's not brand-friendly. Say, YouTube. Or 4chan or /b/.

@eileenb @woozle

@dredmorbius @eileenb @woozle exactly. is explicitly anti-Nazi and I plan to either ban instances that host such content or at least block/report users who do. Scream "safe space" all ya want, this is my living room not my front porch, I'll filter out what I damn well please.

@will I'm pretty down with Instances setting their own game rules, though you have a bit of a mismatch with the granularity of rules vs. user counts.

Social is 50k users, Cloud is 31k, JP is pushing 65k, Pawoo 70k. That's a lot of personal preferences to comport with a single Instance-wide policy.

Smaller servers manage better -- 100s to a few 1000s of users. But transparency here ... needs work.

There's also account portability/migration, in process, but Not Here Yet.

@will NB: I've /no/ problem generally with instances setting rules on who or what they talk to, and I've seen enough crap out of a few places that I wouldn't mind seeing a lot less from them. Your instance /is/ your FreezePeach zone, mine is not.

There's the question of what FS is and what its limits are. I've already linked earlier essays of mine touching on that, but going back to Mill, earlier, and discussions since, is enlightening.

@will @dredmorbius @eileenb For what it's worth, people arguing against "safe space" and "trigger warnings" are not being honest; they'll demand their own forms of safe space and trigger warning, but call them something different.

Removing "controversial" books from libraries, for example, or demanding various forms of warning (e.g. "parental advisory") on CDs and games.

Everyone needs safe space, but some of us have to fight for it. :-/

@woozle One of the calls for limitations was that politics not be discussed openly, without CW. I addressed that on my FAQ (see my profile Bio link), particularly:

And especially:

@will @eileenb

@dredmorbius @will @eileenb For Harena's sake, if nothing else, I tend to agree.

Meta-politics don't seem to be a problem, but getting into specific causes and people tends to bring in a lot of negativity that can make a place less fun to be around.

Maybe I should set up a Mastodon instance on or

@woozle I think that would be a fantastic idea.

There's also the experiment of running a quiet space where a known set of people who can discuss difficult sets of topics intelligently might do so. The MKaTS model.

@dredmorbius The universe has decided that I will become familiar with Ruby on Rails, it seems...

Perhaps this time around I'll be able to scare up some help when things break. (I've still got a Redmine instance I tried to upgrade several years ago and was never able to revive. Blank screen, unhelpful error messages in log -- apparently a common symptom with borken RoR apps.)

@dredmorbius What are your preferred domains for this? Some obvious options associated with political-ish sites:,,,

I also have (for science criticism) and (for criticism of the anti-reality movement) -- probly too specific. was always going to be for the first instance of InstaGov... I could do Mastodon as a subdomain there even though the main site isn't started.


@woozle Make it happen.

Tell people where it is.

/Where/ matters vastly less than /that/, though of the set, iseeamess is probably a better general fit.

My model of this will be "Woozle's Mastodon instance".

(Also: classic instance of overbranding, IMO.)

@dredmorbius I have registered

I'm kind of shocked it was available.

@woozle OK.

Though I'm not sure how this solves the overbranding problem....

@dredmorbius I'm not sure where overbranding comes into it... especially if you just call it "I See a Mastodon".

@woozle You have ... many domains.

It's a little confusing, from the outside looking in.

@dredmorbius They're each intended to be separately memorable, with the possibility of being managed by different individuals. Also, shorter URLs than tying to package everything in folders. (Been there, done that.)

I'm open to eventual discussion on how better to manage that, domain-name-wise and in other respects.

(This domain is my 30th. But I don't have a problem. Really.)

@woozle I can guess as to the intent.

As I've already said: "From the outside, looking in..."

If you're trying to create some sort of unified presence, or make it easier for others to find a single spot to locate your stuff, speaking as someone who I suspect is among those more generally interested in your work, this makes it harder, not easier.

If you'll go upstream, I suggested ISeeAMess. Not the best branding, but prolly where I'd go.

/Not/ Yet Another Domain.

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@woozle Though yes, most those on the AR tend to play with two (or more) sets of game rules.

@will @eileenb

@dredmorbius @will @eileenb "AR"? I feel like this is something obvious, but can't think of it.

@will But other interests /don't/ have the same fears or concerns. Most especially demagogic or factionalising ones. Hell, they even feed off the energy and dynamic. SSC, "Toxoplasma of Rage".

@eileenb @woozle

@dredmorbius @will @eileenb This is another example of publicity skills, rather than virtue, deciding what rises to the top. This is a problem in many, many endeavors (e.g. music, fiction writing, politics...)

Designing systems (digital ecosystems) to counter this trend is a sort of meta-goal of my current work.

@dredmorbius you have some great points, they deserve more research.
But I'm out and about today, and learning will have to wait πŸ™

Again, @woozle, quoting this time: "the actual problem is (1) the increasing complexity of our society, requiring ever more knowledge to discern truth from anti-truth, and (2) anti-information being actively injected into the system by those who seek to manipulate public opinion."

Merely changing the platform doesn't fix any of this.


@woozle: "The external conditions have changed, the bandwidth needs are higher and the noise-rejection needs are greater. The old systems are failing under the increased information demand (which we can't just wish away...) -- and so we need new processes that are better able to deal with that heavier load."

OSocial and Mastodon (may) break up centralisation (I've my doubts here), but unless there's significant anti-noise engineering, they fundamentally change nothing.


@dredmorbius @woozle @eileenb

I imagine that branding on the #fediverse will work more like it did back on the old web. The corporation runs their own instance, where they control layout, moderation, etc. Maybe some will run read-only streams -- glorified RSS feeds. Maybe some will present a blog and allow federated commenting.

In effect, branding on OStatus, if it happens, will mean that corporations develop their own software for their sites, just like they did with CMS:es for the publishing web. Once the first-mover advantage is gone, maybe some of these will be free software. If the right corporations get an interest, maybe there would even be a free software implementation early on.
@dredmorbius @woozle @eileenb What all this means is that people like @lambadalambda, who have been working on and get these technologies for years, will be rolling in dough. ;-)
It's the next dot-com boom!

I'd better get hacking on Pleroma BE soon, to get in on the scheme.
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