Morfternight #60: Meet me on Mastodon

🤩 Welcome to the 8 new Morfternighters who joined us last week.
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📷 Photo of the week

A man of mystery – More Photos

👋 Hi! Please read this; it’s important!

Two weeks ago, in Morfternight #58I introduced the Morfternight chat.

Last week, in Morfternight #59, I introduced the Morfternight Telegram channel.

These two announcements share three characteristics: 

  • I wish to find more ways to connect with y’all, mainly to make this a conversation and not a monologue.
  • I do not have any control over either Substack or Telegram, which puts us all in a suboptimal situation where they could disappear someday.
  • Joining either of these two channels doesn’t give you any value beyond the ability to chat with other Morfternighters.

Enter Mastodon

You probably have heard about Mastodon in the past couple of weeks. It’s not exactly new, but like most tools that could represent an alternative to Twitter, it’s under the spotlight these days.

Mastodon, in a nutshell, is a tool allowing a community to communicate. It sits at the crossroads of a blog and a forum, with a few additional features that make it function like Twitter.

Where Mastodon differs profoundly from Twitter is that, like a blog or a forum, it can belong to the community that runs and controls it fully. 

What it adds to a blog or a forum is that all those independent communities are federated into a broader network and can communicate with each other.

A person on one Mastodon server can find, read, reply to, and follow other people on other Mastodon servers.

Mastodon servers offer a local timeline, containing exclusively the content created by the local community, and a federated timeline, surfacing content created on other communities based on the accounts the local users follow.

This setup allows each community to establish and follow its own rules.

When communities are not compatible with each other, they can unilaterally decide to sever the link. Not only can each one, through this mechanism, make sure that no content that infringes their rules shows up on their users’ timelines, but over time, the most extreme and intolerant ones will most likely end up isolated.

Users can, of course, migrate from one server to another.

Meet the Morfternight Mastodon

So I decided to explore this new direction. I installed and set up meet.morfternight.com, a Mastodon server reserved for us, Morfternighters.

What this means is that if you visit meet.morfternight.com, you will be able to sign up for an account that I will validate if, and only if, you use the same email address you use to subscribe to Morfternight.

In addition to the ability to chat with each other, the same Mastodon account will allow you to chat with Mastodon users across the globe on all federated servers.

I strongly encourage you to try it, and if you don’t like it, you can permanently delete your account without affecting your subscription to this newsletter.

This feels like progress. Maybe the third time is the charm. With the server at meet.morfternight.com, we have a place to chat that is entirely independent of any platform or corporation and which gives you extra value beyond the community by opening the door of the Fediverse.

🗺️ Three places to visit today

  1. You may have heard of the FTX meltdown that shook the crypto world over the past two weeks. Like me, you may not be sure about what happened. Also, like me, you may not feel like reading a lot about it because scams have always been part of the financial world, and there’s nothing new under the sun. If all that is true, I suggest checking Om Malik’s How FTX built a house of cards.
  2. I generally am fascinated by Tim Urban’s views on the world. This time a bit less, as he seems to approach a complex problem a bit too simplistically, but the conversation underneath is fascinating.
  1. If you are intrigued by Mastodon and want to run your server, I found the official documentation on Installing from source extremely easy to follow; it was slightly outdated last night but has been fixed already. It’s a live document!

🎁 It’s a wrap!

I had not installed a new server in a while, so this Mastodon thing took me a few hours.

I did it once to learn, then deleted everything to redo it from scratch properly.

Between setting up email sending with Sendgrid, media storage with AWS S3, setting up the server on Digital Ocean, configuring Mastodon a bit, and connecting it to Paolo.blog so that my new content is pushed there automatically, my Saturday vanished.

All that is to say that I need to sleep, and I don’t have much more to say for today. 

Join me on meet.morfternight.com, and if you have friends looking to experiment with Mastodon, forward this newsletter to them! 😉

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