Will your Tesla brake for mastodons?
a riff on my favourite bumper sticker
I brake for mastodons
Simple. Direct. To the point.
That’s my favourite bumper sticker. Ever. It’s absurd, silly and fun. It fits with a fools vision of the world. It looked best on the back of a blue and rust coloured Mazda Schitbox hatchback from the early 90’s driven well into the twenty-teens.
I purchased this sticker at Mastodon Ridge. Mastodon Ridge is located half way between the north pole and the equator. It’s a tourist trap at the exit for Stewiacke Nova Scotia. It has been said that when they built the Tim Hortons there, they unearthed a vast Mastodon graveyard!
It’s also a known fact that a hundred years ago, Mr. P.T. Barnum, or one like him, came here with some majestic and sick pachyderms. Some say that the circus regularly set up not far from where the vast mastodon graveyard was found. Suspicious? Maybe.
But the fine people by the exit half way between the north pole and the equator? They have a bit of Barnum in themselves too. Now at the Mastodon exit a plaza stands. Over the last thirty years it continues to grow. The central attraction? A life sized replica of a mastodon. Funny enough, it looks a whole hell of a lot like a hairy elephant.
It’s difficult to hear where the hype begins and the truth ends. Barnum, the mastodon ridge locals, Elon? They all seem convinced by their own stories. Are they real? Maybe. There’s a mastodon there now! And there’s a mastodon running roughshod over the world right now. It’s growing at an unheard of rate.
Elon seems to brake for mastodons. Well, he’s breaking Twitter. Firing people, changing a long established culture quickly all while offending many of the users whose time and attention are a social network’s lifeblood. It’s almost as though he’s doing this on purpose.
But what does this have to do with mastodons?
I’m not on Twitter. My social media time is limited to this foolsletter and posting bike, surfing, horse and wood cutting / building videos on Zuckerburger’s picture farm. This might be changing. A mastodon has entered the building.
There’s a mastodon in the room? Yeah Mastodon is a new, decentralized social network that’s apparently a lot like twitter. It’s also a bit difficult to get the hang of it.
Seth has been writing about it on his blog lately:
It’s a network in the real internet sense of the word. It’s not just a network of users, it’s a network of servers as well. No one owns it. Like email, it’s a set of principles and rules, not a place. A federation is different than a corporation. It might not be as shiny, but it’s far more resilient.
It’s inconvenient. You can’t get started in ten seconds. This leads to less initial stickiness. It means that the people who get through the learning curve are more likely to be committed and perhaps generous. In the early days of email, of Compuserve, of AOL, of the web, of just about every network I’ve been part of, these early users created a different sort of magic. It never lasts, but it’s great to see.
I like this. I like that as a ‘user’ my data isn’t the product that a company sells. I love that no one owns it. I love that with it’s decentralized nature, a person can find a server run by an organization that has moderation standards that I agree to. This has the potential to create a more nuanced user experience.
Find a server?
Yeah. they’re like little self run online villages and towns that are interconnected yet separate. It seems like a really odd thing. It takes time to fit in. And extraordinary things can happen there.
I liken twitter and Facebonks to shopping malls. There’s no free speech in shopping malls. The mall decides when you are open, when you close and how you present yourself to the public. If you don’t behave how they want, they can kick you out.
I love town squares. Common areas where people can show up and connect with who they want, when they want and how they want are brilliant. I love the parks in Manhattan. It’s nothing to see a student from NYU practicing jazz in Washington square park. My first time there, there was a dude playing trumpet AND flugal horn AT THE SAME TIME!
There were people selling weed. Acrobats busking. Tourists snapping photos. New lovers leaning in. Union square park was even more fun. That’s where I’d dance.
Dance? Sure. People would regularly show up with a boom box and a few crews to pop, lock and break dance in battles. They had a bucket out for cash for batteries. As a mime? I’d join in. Fully uninvited. And I was allowed. It was the town squire.
Imagine doing this at mall?
Fuck malls. At a mall you’d need permission from somebody.
In a town square you need permission from both nobody and everybody.
So, I’m stoked on Mastodon and will be checking it out tonight.
Is anyone here experimenting with Mastodon as a social network?
Have any tips / advice to someone checking it out?
Let all of us know about your experience / what you’ve learned by leaving a message in the comments.
Until then, let’s watch Elon break (twitter) for Mastodon(s).