Dipping my toes in the Fediverse
I’ve liked the idea of distributed social networking for quite some time - I dabbled with Diaspora years and years ago, but the fact it was written in Ruby threw me as I didn’t care quite enough about it to learn a new language. But even before that I’ve been pretty convinced that this is the “correct” way to do things, as in the mid-2000s I wrote up a plan to build an IRC-replacement, something vaguely similar to the way Matrix works only not nearly as well-thought-out, and mine revolved around a GPG-style private-key-as-identity system and I hadn’t worked out a decent public key distribution method beyond punting on it and saying “put your key on your website or give it to friends in-person”.
Anyway, I digress. The main reason for the renewed interest in it, even though I played with Mastodon (a federated Twitter clone) is Elon Musk purchasing Twitter. I have effectively given up Facebook entirely, I only use it for marketplace because there is no viable alternative where we live, but I don’t engage with Facebook/Meta properties at all outside this narrow scope. But Twitter I was for a time hopelessly addicted to, particularly during COVID I picked up the nasty habit of “doomscrolling”, and after this purchase I see no viable way it remains as it was. Elon’s promised two things that are, in my opinion, mutually exclusive - a free-speech-friendly network that’s profitable. I just don’t believe he’ll be able to do it (will happily eat my words if it turns out I was wrong, one of the neat things about maintaining a long presence on the internet is there are plenty of examples where I have been).
So I haven’t deleted my Twitter, but I have started thinking about what I’ll replace it with. Mastodon’s federated version ticks most of my boxes, and even the negatives (you’re insulated in small communities!) aren’t deal-breakers for me, if anything it’ll probably lead to healthier social network use if it’s not quite so addictive (I could just work on my shit, but like that’ll happen).
I signed up for Mastodon months ago, but I figured that since I don’t do enough recreational sysadmin I’d probably run my own one. I took a disused domain, spun up a container on my K8s cluster, had a look at it… yeah I think I can make this work. I’m not using the Mastodon software (probably would have been the sensible approach), instead opting for a project called gotosocial. This appeals to me, because it’s not trying to do everything… it implements the API and some of the (mostly read-only) web bits, and leaves you to connect other clients to it. Fine by me, I mostly use my phone with an app anyway.
What I didn’t care for was the disused domain I picked… so I blew that one away after doing my best to not pollute the fediverse with dead links, and instead set it up on hungryhacker.com - another, mostly, disused domain. This is convenient because pre-gmail I used this email address almost exclusively, so for very old friends it makes a lot of sense for them finding me on it. Neat!
Configured it, behind CloudFlare so I don’t get entirely ratfucked by bandwidth use. I did my best to point my Mastodon account to it, but unfortunately GtS doesn’t implement a couple bits of the ActivityPub protocol required to do a proper redirect (where the small handful of followers I gained on there would follow me to the new account). Maybe they’ll fix that, but I don’t really give a shit at this stage.
Ironically, having 5000 characters to “microblog” might mean I end up using it for the exact same reason I started using Twitter for… jotting out ideas that I’ll flesh out into actual journal entries later. Or maybe Elon gets bored and flogs Twitter off (or, extremely unlikely IMHO, he makes good on the promises he’s made) and I just go back there. We’ll see.