The Federated Future

7 minute read Published: 2022-05-03

Look, it's not original thinking to be concerned about the future of social media with a megalomaniacal billionaire threatening to impose regressive policies. Enough ink has already been spilled on what might or might not happen with Twitter as the new owner molds it in his image. The debate rages on about whether Twitter is a town square, whether it ought to be, or whether something that functions as a public service should in fact be driven by profit. But that debate misses the fact that some folks have already created a truly free alternative. It didn't require government intervention. As always in the open source software world, it simply took the conviction, creativity, and hard work of a community.

Or in this case, a federation of communities. This last week, I dove back into the Fediverse by way of Mastodon. Mastodon is a free and open alternative to Twitter—or "the birdsite," as users of Mastodon call it. What I've found has not just made me want to stay, but made me question my assumptions about social media in general.

Let's explore how your entry into the Fediverse might proceed.