Some say that the blog format is dead, but I would not turn off my RSS feed reader for anything in the world. There is some blogs I’ve been following ten years. And in the ever changing landscape of social media, I’ve always come back to the blogs to find peace.
This is still true today. The self-hosted feed reader is probably the last space where I don’t feel manipulated by some machine learning algorithm into looking at something.
And to celebrate this, I give you my favorite: Text-Mode, which today posted this marvelous flip book of Marilyn Monroe.
In Mastodon lingo, here’s how to leave the birdsite for the fluffy animals federation, without hurting your social karma, while leaving the nazis behind.
If you don’t know the Mastodon, there are articles that will explain you in details what it is about and why it’s better than Twitter or where it comes from and what is the federation. But in a few words, it’s a decentralized social network, driven by a community of free software enthusiasts, that feels very much like twitter, but with added values.
If you are coming from Twitter, these would be some of the reasons to consider switching to Mastodon:
- It feels friendlier, more conversational and fresh. Just like twitter at the beginning.
- It puts users first. Its architecture is completely designed from the ground up to protect against harassment and bullying.
- It’s free from nazis.
- It’s not driven by corporate greed. There is no central authority aggregating your data and selling it to third parties.
- It is not addictive tech. It’s not built with email reminders to connect or suggestions to post and give away personal details about yourself.
- It’s decentralized open source software supported by its community. So it would be very hard for any government or malicious entity to shut it down or censor it completely.
So now that you have an account (follow this guide if you don’t have one yet), here are a few tricks I’ve come across that helped me during the transition.
Find your twitter friends who are already on Mastodon and follow them. Use it to find your friends now, and to find more friends in 3 or 6 months. People join Mastodon all the time. Not every Tweep did the transhumance last April. Some only join today. Find them and make contact on Mastodon.[Edit: 27/04/2022] Unfortunately, this service is not available anymore. I think the Twitter API did not really like this app. You’ll have to ask your friends directly what is their Mastodon account. Pinning a tweet in your profile with your Mastodon address is a good way for your followers to find that information.
- Craft and pin a tweet that announces you’re moving to Mastodon and link to your new profile. Here is mine for example:
Ping me there if you’d like https://t.co/DY36jIsT1I
— Julien Deswaef | @email@example.com (@xuv) April 1, 2017
It’s pinned at the top of my twitter profile so that anyone visiting it can find it.
- Since Twitter has recently allowed a lot more characters in twitter names, you could also add your Mastodon user handle next to it. It helps spread the message, one tweet at a time. (A mastodon user handle starts with @your-username and finishes with @the-instance-where-its-located. This is mine:
@firstname.lastname@example.org@email@example.com. It’s like an email address, but with an @ in front of it. PS: don’t send emails to that address. It will not work.)
- While you’re still on Twitter, why not follow the official @MastodonProject account. It’ll regularly remind you about your decision to move and provide good stuff to retweet to your friends.
On the move
If tweeting from your phone is your thing, Mastodon has you covered in many ways. There is plenty of apps to choose from. And Mastodon itself behaves very well in mobile browsers (no app needed). But this is what I recommend:
- Remove the official Twitter app from your phone. It’s bad anyway. It tracks your location, does not show tweets in a chronological order and tries to figure out everything you are doing with your phone. It also only works with Twitter.
- Install Twidere (for Android, also available on F-Droid) instead. And connect it to both your Mastodon and Twitter accounts. You will then have one unified feed, with both tweets and toots from your friends in reverse chronological order. No tracking, no profiling, no machine engineering of your preferences. And when you want to post a message, you can decide to send it to both platforms or not. Your choice. I personally decided to post solely on Mastodon. Though I do still retweet some stuff and reply to @mentions on Twitter… for now.
Consider Mastodon as a new school you’d be going to or a new city you’d just moved in. You know how it works. There will be things you are familiar with and things you don’t know. There will be new friends to make, but you will probably know a few people there already. But with every move, there will be a little effort needed from your part to make it an enjoyable experience.
Things are a little different on Mastodon than Twitter. But, the rule, I guess, is to be yourself. I believe there is a tone for every social network. Even if probably Mastodon is very similar to Twitter. Try to find out how it’s different. It’s like finding this new café at the corner of the street you just moved in. When is it crowded? What’s the best thing on the menu? Why do people go outside if they they want to take a call?
Here are a few accounts you might find interesting if you like the stuff I like:
- Allison Parrish: @firstname.lastname@example.org
- Brendan Howell: @KnowPresent@mastodon.social
- Darius Kazemi: @email@example.com
- Máirín Duffy: @firstname.lastname@example.org
- Yunohost: @email@example.com
Of course there is many more (1.000.000 more). Hop on the federation feed or local feed of your instance once in a while and you will see a flow of many many posts in different languages (you can filter out the languages you don’t want to read in the settings). Especially do this if you just started, it’ll give you a sense of what’s going on in this space. And basically, it’s something you can only do on Mastodon. Then follow new people. Unfollow, if it’s not as interesting as you thought. No one will be offended. This is new ground. Be curious.
And don’t be silent. It’s a social network. It means there is nothing really interesting there if you don’t bring anything. Social network tools are empty by default. So talk to strangers. It’s a potluck, BYOB party, shared lunch. Everyone is bringing something to the table.
Sharing content from Twitter on Mastodon
You will be tempted to share the good things you read on Twitter to Mastodon. And this is perfectly fine. Though to properly do it, start your copy with “RT @firstname.lastname@example.org” to credit the original author (just like in the old days of Twitter by the way).
You might also want to use the feature called “Content Warning” (CW) if what you copy might feel offensive to some readers.
People on Mastodon tend to respect their audience more than on Twitter. Some like to put violence, political views and anything related to Twitter (aka. the birdsite) behind a Content Warning.
Sharing content from Mastodon to Twitter
Depending on what you’d like to achieve with this transition, you might want to keep your twitter followers in sync with what you are doing on the Mastodon. I personally don’t do this (if people want the good bits of me, they are welcome to follow me on Mastodon). But you could find interest in using the Mastodon Twitter Poster to manage this automatically for you.
This service [by @renatolond] allows you to connect a Mastodon account and a Twitter account and enable cross-posting between them.
Mastodon Twitter Poster seems really well thought in terms of cross-posting features, respect of privacy levels and overall understanding of both worlds. Though, this is just from reading the doc. I’m curious to have feedback from people who have used it.
And by the way, when you tweet a link to a toot, this is what it looks like:
— Julien Deswaef | @email@example.com (@xuv) June 22, 2017
Yes, Twitter embeds toots perfectly.
If you have the feeling Twitter is getting worst every day, but that the way the medium used to work was fun and promising. If you believe there is a more respectful way to micro-blog, using a platform driven by community decisions, with respect in mind and keeping a safe distance from centralized silos. Now is the time to embark on a new journey.
Hopefully, I’ve demonstrated in this article that the tool set is available to ease that transition. Whether your goal is to completely remove yourself from Twitter at some point or to maintain a presence on both sides until Twitter burns down to ashes is up to you.
But the future is bright and seeing the pace at which Mastodon is growing, we have probably not measured yet completely the impact this will have on the future of social media (start reading about PeerTube and Activity Pub, if you want to grasp what I’m talking about).
Let me know if anything in this article helped you or feels incorrect and don’t hesitate to come say ‘hi’.
New York City has many wonders and the Park Slope Food Coop is definitely one. It’s the city’s oldest organic and local food supermarket and it’s mostly run by volunteers. So I was pleased to visit this strange place one day. Not that the concept of a co-op is strange, even in the US. But the fact that in order for me to visit it, I had to be personally invited by one of its members so I could walk around this peculiar market space with a big bright orange badge on my chest that said “Visitor”. And by “visitor” it means: look, but not touch or buy anything.
More on this Park Slope wonder in this short documentary:
Had the chance to see last night the performance of Alexis Langevin-Tétrault at “Visions of the Future III” and was blown away by the playfulness and dynamic aspect of it. It’s a perfect combination of powerful sound, subtle lighting and choreography working very well together. If you get the chance. Don’t miss it.
On stage, an audioreactive play of light unfolds gradually: Alexis Langevin-Tétrault (CA) builds a network of strings with which he interacts to create a sound universe between the industrial noise, electronica and acousmatic music.
(video link )
(Photo credit: Nicolas Bernier, 25/04/17, Salle Claude Champagne)
Here are three video recordings of presentations done at the latest Blender Conference that I think are worth watching.
I’ve never had the chance to attend the Blender Conference, but they have always provided live streaming and published recordings afterwards. The diversity and quality of the presentations invite me every time to go through it. There is a lot to discover in the field of 3D creation and, as with any open source software, people have used the tool in many different ways for the purpose of their research. So, after watching a few videos, here is my selection for this year.
Paul Melis uses Blender to demonstrate how path tracing works. Path tracing is a rendering method based the physical properties of light and thus simulates realistic lighting of a scene. Blender Foundation has developed a rendering engine called Cycles using this method. But how does it work? Paul Melis has modified Blender to literally show us how the rays are moving around in 3D before being turned into colored pixels. Along the way, he shows us how and why certain things might influence the final render.
For her PHD in media studies, Julia Velkova is focusing on open-source animation film production. She does not uses Blender, so this is not a technical presentation. Instead, she is focusing on the community, economy and mechanics behind the production of free culture using free / libre software. Her presentation puts in perspective contemporary media production with the history of art and technology. She also raises good questions for the Blender community and the free / libre art and technology practitioners as a whole. I’ll be looking forward to the conclusion of her PHD in a couple months.
MAD Entertainment Animation, is an Italian based animation studio that has gradually switched to a full Blender production pipeline over the last couple years. While this is more and more common in small sizes studios across the world, Ivan Cappiello presents here the latest projects they have been working on and shares the methodology they use when you don’t have big production budgets but still want to make big feature animation films.
I’ve singled out their presentation because of the particularly poetic look and feel they have achieved in their work (the illustration a the top of this article is a still from one of their production). But also for the Kinect based motion capture they use to help animators quickly set up poses for secondary character animation. All very inspiring.
There is of course a lot more presentations to watch if the subject and software is of any interest to you. So let me know which are your favorites from this year and why.
Github, with its 75,000,000 repositories, has become a central place for open source development and is well-known for having popularized Git among programmers and other code hungry fellas. The irony is not lost on anyone that we are again relying on a centralized service for our decentralized Git workflow. And as with any centralization comes the risk of giving too much power in the hands of just a few.
Of course, a central service such as Github has its benefits. We all know where to search for code. We all also potentially know how the service works and can jump more quickly from one project to another. Third parties can even build upon this resource and push things in new directions, maybe attracting faster early adopters.
But… Centralized services can turn against you. They can censor and be censored. They also can disappear. Maybe Github will not disappear soon, but a user on Github could decide to delete all its repositories and there would not be much you could do about it. You don’t think that has happened? Check RGBDToolkit or Gravit, for example. (You’ll have to put those urls in your preferred search-engine to verify that I’m not bullshitting you and that these projects did exist on Github at some point.)
So, in order to restore balance in the force, I’ve decided to adopt a few habits that I want to share with you. They are not going to solve the centralization problem. But they can maybe provide some safe guards against the major risk exposed in the previous paragraph. These tricks apply for projects you have not created. For your own projects, it’s up to you to decide where you want to host them.
The solution I’m using is based on the mirror feature from Gitlab. Gitlab is an open source clone of Github. It provides the same functionalities, but you can install it on your own server. And many groups are running public instances across the web. Gitlab.com itself, as a company, develops the software and offers hosting of public and private repositories at the same address.
So now, every time I find a nice open source project on Github, and especially the ones with few stars, forks or developers, I create a mirror of it in a public Gitlab repository. The advantage here over just a git clone on my machine or elsewhere is that I’m not just creating a copy of the project at a certain time. The mirror feature will keep watching the original project and pull all the changes that happen after I created the mirror. So I’m confident, that whatever happens to the original repository, all the history and changes will be saved elsewhere.
Because those repositories are just backups, I also disable issue tracking, wikis and any other unnecessary feature that could mislead visitors. The point is not to divert development. There is also a clear mention that those are mirrors and link back to the canonical repository.
So next time, instead of starring a project you like, mirror it. You’ll do everyone a favor. The ones I keep are here. But feel free to choose any other hosting service elsewhere. Let’s keep things distributed.