Paolo Amoroso's Journal

fediverse

You know what I envied of those influencers with millions of followers? The magic of tweeting a question and getting valuable answers and advice from knowledgeable people.

I'm no celebrity, but on Mastodon I'm getting the same experience with orders of magnitude fewer followers.

As a retrocomputing enthusiast, it's a lot of fun to explore and program my V20-MBC homebrew Nec V20 computer. But CP/M-86, one of the operating systems the V20-MBC runs, was eclipsed by MS-DOS back in the day, leaving little surviving documentation and literature. Especially about CP/M-86 development.

So the Open Library listing of the book CP/M-86 Assembly Language Programming by Jon Lindsay (Brady Communications Co., 1986) caught my attention. Sadly, the text isn't available. I decided to try to track down the book, starting by asking for help on comp.os.cpm.

Without expecting much, I also posted a toot to my Mastodon account in case anyone had useful clues on the book. What happened next blew my mind.

Within a day the post was boosted over a hundred times, got some fifty stars, and received dozens of valuable replies. The replies contributed promising leads, tagged others who might know something, suggested workarounds or other lines of inquiry, and started a few interesting side conversations. Everyone went out of their way to assist.

I was speechless, breathless. Literally. I didn't even know how to adequately thank the many who chimed in.

This isn't possible on Twitter, where the algorithms boost celebrities and influencers and bury everyone else.

You may think this overwhelming support has something to do with my 1.1K Mastodon followers. But I've been having a similar experience since joining Mastodon ten months ago. I'd say the critical mass is somewhere between a few dozen and a couple hundred followers.

I want to give back. I want to give others the opportunity of a similar positive experience, which is within reach of everyone in the Fediverse. Boosts proved crucial to amplify my quest for help, so I'm boosting more toots for a chance to reach someone who may be interested or willing to help.

People are the ultimate algorithm.

#fediverse #retrocomputing #books

Discuss... Email | Reply @amoroso@fosstodon.org

Write.as, where this blog is hosted, supports embedding rich media from many social platforms and websites such as YouTube videos and Twitter tweets. It's enough to insert in a post the bare URL of the content to embed, on a line by itself, for Writes.as to render the media.

I wonder whether media embedding works also with Fediverse platforms, so this test post includes some of this content. Let's start with a toot of my Mastodon profile:

https://fosstodon.org/@amoroso/109360170388228216

Here is the URL of a PeerTube video:

https://diode.zone/w/9edtkEZ3QcmfMZStyrEjgB

Another option with PeerTube is to insert the HTML video embedding code, as Write.as renders some HTML in Markdown:

Does it work?

After checking out the published post I updated it to report on the embeds.

Write.as doesn't render the URLs of both the toot and the PeerTube video. The HTML embedding code does work, but the rendered video is not responsive and doesn't blend well with the page on mobile.

#blogging #fediverse

Discuss... Email | Reply @amoroso@fosstodon.org

Mastodon.technology, the Mastodon instance that hosted my account, will be shut down. The admin Ash Furrow took this decision for serious personal reasons.

As a Google+ survivor and a fediverse newbie with barely 7 months on Mastodon, the announcement startled me. I set out to find a good new home and now I'm on Fosstodon as @amoroso@fosstodon.org This instance is open to anyone interested in technology, with a focus on free and open-source software.

Fosstodon is culturally close to Mastodon.technology. Both have similar topics and values, and comparable user base sizes. Instead of a single maintainer like Mastodon.technology, a team of admins and moderators and more resources give Fosstodon some redundancy and assurance of longevity.

The Mastodon documentation explains the simple procedure for moving an account.

Creating an account on the new instance, transferring the data, and filling the profile was mostly seamless and took less than half an hour. Mastodon transferred my followers automatically, I only had to upload to Fosstodon the list of followed users downloaded from Mastodon.technology.

Although the process took care of my social graph, moving toots and media isn't supported and I could only download my old toots. Bummer, I hope the developers implement full content transfer soon.

#fediverse

Discuss... Email | Reply @amoroso@fosstodon.org

I joined the mastodon.technology Mastodon instance on March 23, 2022. It turned out to be an interesting time as, a few weeks later, Elon Musk tried to acquire Twitter and stirred the debate on alternate social platforms.

Back then the About page of the instance listed, under server stats, about 22K users and 2.2K active monthly users. In the weeks after Elon's bid, the user base of the instance started growing, several introduction toots by new users showed up in the local timeline, and monthly active users peaked at 2.3K.

As I write this there are 23.5K users and 1.66K active monthly users. In the local timeline I haven't seen new user toots for a while.

Although the decreased activity hints at a waning interest in the instance or Mastodon, this can just be a seasonal effect over the summer. Even if the decrease is real, interest in Mastodon seems to come in waves.

We'll see in the fall.

#fediverse

Discuss... Email | Reply @amoroso@fosstodon.org

I joined Mastodon over a month ago. But I've been seeing a noticeable increase in my follower count since Twitter announced Elon Musk acquired it. Many people are likely checking out the fediverse.

I wondered how these new followers find me, as Mastodon has no algorithmic recommendations and few discoverability tools. It turns out they see my toots boosted by other users, monitor hashtags I tag my toots with, or browse the Trunk for the Fediverse lists. I rely on similar resources for populating my Mastodon feed.

This hints the Mastodon community is proactive, not passive and apathetic like the many Twitter users who consume only what the algorithms feed them and don't step outside of the platform's walled garden.

#fediverse

Discuss... Email | Reply @amoroso@fosstodon.org

A week ago I joined Mastodon and soon faced a common hurdle: following enough interesting users to populate my feed.

It's not as easy as it seems as Mastodon has no algorithmic recommendations and doesn't support full-text search of toots. Although Mastodon instances come with a profile directory, this coarse filter lumps together mostly random profiles loosely tied by a generic match with the topics and themes an instance is about.

How did I get started?

I seeded my feed by browsing the results of hashtag searches for topics I'm interested in. This produced a handful of people to follow.

Next, for a finer grained filter, I browsed several more profiles from a number of sources:

  • people followed by the users I follow
  • people boosted or mentioned by the users I follow
  • people who follow me, reply to, or boost my toots
  • hashtag searches I monitor
  • local timeline

When I came across a promising toot from these sources, I reviewed the author's profile for consistent posts with similar quality or themes. I discarded the profiles who toot only occasionally content matching my criteria and followed the others.

Now I'm following a dozen users. Although not many, these profiles are a good result after just a week. And the toots in my feed are enough for generating a compounding amount of relevant candidates to iterate the process.

#fediverse

Discuss... Email | Reply @amoroso@fosstodon.org

To dip my toes in the fediverse, yesterday I joined the Mastodon.technology Mastodon instance for people interested in technology. I signed up as @amoroso@mastodon.technology but my journal was already in the fediverse as @paolo@journal.paoloamoroso.com

I had been meaning to do it for a while. My decision to dial down on Twitter gave me the motivation to sit down and try the platform.

Using Mastodon

I read the Mastodon user documentation, but playing with the system a bit was enough to get me up to speed with most of the features.

The website is clean and smooth and lets me do the customizations I really need, such as setting a light theme and changing the language to English. I like the TweetDeck-like advanced web interface. I initially planned to try a Mastodon client for my Android devices. However, the PWA works so well on mobile that it's good enough for me.

I expected more confusion between the local and the federated timeline, but figuring which is which and where to get what I want turned out to be easy.

The community

Within hours of joining Mastodon and posting two toots, I gained 2 followers and a few favorites and boosts. I also got into a couple of interesting conversations. On Twitter, it would have taken me months to reach a comparable level of engagement.

My first impression is people on Mastodon care about sharing and discussion rather than building a following like on traditional social platforms. It's also a place where more people who do cool niche projects and stuff hang out. For example, I immediately followed Techy Things @ZephyrZ80, a computer engineering hobbyist who designs and builds his own Z80-based single-board computers.

I'm looking forward to exploring the fediverse in more depth.

Update

In October of 2022 I migrated from Mastodon.technology to Fosstodon and my new profile is @amoroso@fosstodon.org

#fediverse

Discuss... Email | Reply @amoroso@fosstodon.org