I think social networking is one of the very important pillars of an open and free IT world.
I’m personally fascinated by how social media is changing the world. I was involved in the creating creation of the biggest social network in Germany in the 90s. Later in the early 2000s I developed and ran the openDesktop.org network which had social networking features way before Facebook, Twitter and all the other current giants. In KDE I started the Social Desktop initiative to bring social features to desktop applications. In 2016 I was part of the Social Working Group of the W3C as an ‘invited expert’ during the time when we created the ActivityPub specification. And lately we at Nextcloud launched Nextcloud Social as an app to participate in the Fediverse. I always believed in the the ideas behind social networking. Making it possible for people from all over the world to connect and communicate. But it has to be done right.
Today we see the huge problems of these huge monolithic platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and others. Users are locked in surveillance capitalist systems controlled by monopolist platforms.
Luckily the latest f..up at Twitter opened the eyes of a lot of people. True federated, open source and decentralised social networks are needed and are possible. A great user experience and a great UI are key.
This led to the incredible rise of Mastodon lately. But let’s not fool ourselves. Mastodon has currently around 2.5 million active users https://blog.joinmastodon.org/2022/12/twitter-suspends-mastodon-account-prevents-sharing-links/ Twitter has over 230 million daily active users. And Twitter is the smallest of the major social networks.
We have to convince a lot more people to switch to Mastodon and related services. How can we do that? I don’t want to be the armchair quarterback here. But I can’t help my-selves sharing some ideas.
The key is a great user experience. Migrating to the Fediverse has to become super easy for everyone.
There are some tools available that help people to move over. But they are hard to find. Remember that signing up at Twitter is super easy. This should be the benchmark.
The mastodon website already has an ‘Create Account’ page that is linked from the homepage https://joinmastodon.org/servers It allows users to find a server and jump to their signup page. But this needs to be massively simplified and extended. This page should not only work for new users but also for users who want to migrate to Mastodon. And all developers of Mobile and Desktop apps should be encouraged to link to that page from their apps.
The page should contain the following sections: // Or “I highly recommend the following sections:
Easy wizard to find an instance. This already exists. But some additional nice ideas could be taken from: https://instances.social and https://mastodon.fediverse.observer/list
There should be An easy way to check if the preferred username is available on that instance and a way to sign up without leaving the page. An example could be the Nextcloud Simple Signup page were you find a provider and directly can signup https://nextcloud.com/sign-up/ Something are at Nextcloud built a few years ago.
There should be A mobile and desktop apps recommended directly on the page.
Make it possible on the page Possibility to find your followers on other social networks on mastodon and follow all of them with one click. See https://www.movetodon.org as an example. But should be extended to other social networks beside Twitter.
The page should Directly offer to setup a cross post robot. I know that cross posting is controversial. But for people who want to move from their old network to Mastodon cross posting is important for the transition period. It should be possible to post everything you post on Mastodon on the legacy networks or the other way around. Maybe the users get a nice notification after 4 weeks asking if the cross posting is still needed or could be switched off?
There should be an A button to easily send direct messages on the old platform to all followers to and notify that the user is now on mastodon. This should come with instructions how to do the same (you mean a small note in the notification?) and follow the person.
At the end of the page should be an easy option to automatically delete the older social media accounts. There could also be option to selectively delete the old tweet like for example https://tweetdelete.net/
Beside this simplified ‘Signup’ and ‘Move to Mastodon’ page? I hope that there is we will see a growing awareness that ActivityPub cannot only be used to replace Twitter. There are projects like ’PeerTube’ and PixelFed that also fill important use cases around pictures and videos. So I wish that Mastodon would works more together with these other projects to promote the shared vision and the Fediverse.
And of course there is a lot more:
https://writefreely.org/ or https://joinplu.me/ for longer texts https://gnulinux.ch/events-organisieren-mit-mobilizon for events https://gnulinux.ch/fediverse-serie-castopod-podcast-hosting-mit-fediverse-anschluss for podcasting and so on.
What do you think? What is still missing to save save the world from surveillance capitalism and move to an open source and federated social networking world?
See you on Mastodon, https://mastodon.social/@Karlitschek