i wrote a blog post about what mastodon is. i know that it's a tired genre, but i think that i did a good job of explaining it in an easy-to-approach way. please read and share!


Thanks for writing this! This is something @courosa and other new arrivals might find interesting/helpful.

@katebowles @courosa i hope so!! i've tried to explain it to people a bunch and figured "if i do it once then i can do it well" and now there's a post

@rowan "Imagine if I could run a Twitter account on my own domain..."
I've also been thinking about explaining federation in terms of how the isolated social media networks would be different under federation, but thinking of them as disconnected instances.
"Imagine if you could post a picture just once to Instagram, but your Twitter followers and Facebook friends could also see it and respond to it"

@datatitian @rowan

I mean I get this, but on the other hand I'd prefer if that wouldn't happen; I like certain websites because of the narrow scope they have, and because I visit them expecting content within that scope---I dislike how facebook pushes random pictures (à la instagram) nowadays, over typed stuff. I'd much rather read my friend's thoughts than see his brunch from xK miles away.

I guess separate federation might work or something?

@joop @rowan that's the problem with isolated networks. Your FB feed should be about friends' current activity, but they also flood it with visual content because that's their only way to connect. In a federated world, the separate services could all consume the same activity streams, but each emphasize the type of content that the service is designed for.

@rowan good article - in case you are curious telephones work in the same way email/Internet/Mastodon does, except there are various mappings of telephone numbers to network routing codes for mobile operators and mobile and fixed operators agree to exchange traffic over their networks in various other ways including VOIP (they are complex-if you are *really* curious you can look on ITU or ETSI website ). The main difference is payment for usage costs is expected at various points.

@rowan great descrption. It would be useful to also describe where Mastodon came from, how it is administered and developed, and how instances are hosted.

@Matt_Noyes thanks! i think that's out of the scope of this piece :)

@rowan You are right, just my wish for the next article. ;-)

@Matt_Noyes okay i keep seeing this and thinking about it, and i don't think i'm the person to write that piece you're hoping for. i'm much more interested in as a whole, and my implementation of it, than mastodon specifically. i think there are a bunch of people who are more qualified to write about masto than i am.

@rowan You start with "Mastodon is microblogging". Do your target users know "microblogging"? It seems quite poweruser-specific.

@bortzmeyer mm, that's a valid q. i'll add a footnote :)

@rowan "I don't know how telephones do it." It's complicated. Typically, it is routed among countries by using the prefix (the number after the plus sign) then, inside one country, you cannot use a more specifix prefix (because of number portability) so you need a big centralised mapping service, switching every number to the actual provider.

Technical details in

@rowan You say "From my account on" but you post from Not a big deal but may deserve a patch.

@bortzmeyer i post on,, and ;)

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