Mastodon – a lightweight twitter that can weight a lot

So, the news broke.

It’s all over the Internet.

Mastodon is the new cool kid on the block.

It came out on my radars a few months ago on ProductHunt, but now it’s “officially” a serious project :

At least most of the major media outlets like for instance  :

Mashable: Bye, Twitter. All the cool kids are migrating to Mastodon.

MicWhat is Mastodon? Everything to know about new social network

Yahoo: Mastodon, the new alternative to Twitter

The Verge: Mastodon.social is an open-source Twitter competitor that’s growing like crazy

Then you have the usual nay-sayers (Don’t get too attached: Twitter ‘rival’ Mastodon will go extinct – like really … Lance? Are these all the reasons you found for real?) and some more balanced opinions : Could Mastodon be the social network to replace Twitter?

What’s clear is that the stock market is not taking this as a very good news : Mastodon Could Accelerate The Downtrend In Twitter Inc. Stock

 

Matt Lee – took notice and still trying to figure how he feels about it:

 

Which we can understand given the background :

 

 

But jokes aside – what’s important is that everyone noticed the evolution of the GNU-social compatible new player, and everyone wonder what’s going to happen there.

So I just wanted to share some ideas which are running in my head for a while already.

I already knew about GNU social before Mastodon but it used to have such a bad UX/UI that I decided it was not really useable yet and that either someone would take care it or that, one day I’d get to it (one of these many crazy project that most of the time stay in the drawer of with many other crazy projects…)

So I am very glad – and by the reaction of many, I am sure I can say we are all very glad, Eugen Rochko (@gargron) did the work – and brought GNU Social to a new level, adding more features beside just making it pretty.

 

Now where all this is going?

 

Well… the future will tell.

But here are some ideas I would love it go.

 

1. A true conversational platform

Twitter main strength (at least as I see it) is its capacity to make conversations happen. It’s the most conversational platform of today main stream social platform.

Yet, conversation is very community driven. Not everyone will feel comfortable in any kind of conversation. Not everyone have the same conversational culture, which mean some people will feel offended when no offence was meant on the other side. And that’s not only on Twitter (though, when you have 144 character to voice your opinion, it makes the exercice a bit tricky sometime). People get annoyed and angry in the real life over conversation that happen face to face… so it is bound to happen in the virtual world.

Twitter one dimensional aspect has led to a many issues due to a lack of compatibility of conversational culture.

In the real world, we organise our conversations in communities – where people share in common a conversational culture and or opinions, or topic of interests or references.

The concept of “instance” I hope will allow to bring back the whole concept of communities which is native to the conversation.

In a sense BBS and other forums had this feature built in. It’s just that it was not as flexible as twitter made it.

Because it’s federated, you can also get updates and interact on with other Mastodon users from the outside  (i.e: other instances).

 

2. Corporate internal network – like Slack but less annoying and more efficient

Internal communication are vital for any organisation.

Yet, we often lack the tools to make these communication efficient while yet not intrusive, etc.

Slack – the internal chat software – has tried to fix this problem. While we can discuss if it has really solved the communication aspect of the problem, we can agree it has created an great time-waster. Slack is today an IRC software on steroid – with jumping notification every 2 min – turning this magical software into an attention-whore that is not alway helping getting much done. (By the way, the way Slack is today – is very close to what IRC was a few – long – years ago.)

All this to day, that I am a big believer that Twitter-like platform like Mastodon Social for can be of a great use for internal communications for companies but – also – for interest-centered platform – just like Slack communities (see these examples: #People – for HR or Launch.chat for creatives or the VC club ).

For this to happen however, we need to see Mastodon have some SaaS options – and/or that hosting companies start to add the one-click-install I am talking about in this article about the cloud.

 

The future will tell

Really, I have no idea how this will grow.

What I know is that OpenSource software is not incompatible with business and making money – WordPress was once just an opensource fork and turned into a major company with a great product today – and also clear by today that it is not the only way to make it – Linus Torvald – principal developper of the linux kernel took a different road but still made his project successful (a clear euphemism).

All this to say that for now it looks exciting and we will see how things are moving.