Archive - Nov 23, 2022

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Connection, not Commodity

As I jumped into Mastodon and thought of ways describe the difference between Mastodon and Twitter, a phrase came to my mind, “Connection, not Commodity.” For me, it feels like Mastodon, and the Fediverse as a whole, is about re-establishing connection between people as opposed to the marketing platform that Twitter seems to have become.

I talked about this the other day, and recently, I came across a post by @atomicpoet@mastodon.social in response to @jon@social.lot23.com about algorithms and monetization goals. I reiterated the same idea I presented previously, with additional nuances. “While I recognize the need for financially sustainable models, it seems like the goals that really need to be discussed are different, such as improving accuracy in reporting, improving mental health of participants, and supporting a stronger, more stable democracy.”
All of this reminds me of Robin Sloan and Matt Thompson's EPIC 2014 from years ago:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUHBPuHS-7s

“At its best, EPIC is a summary of the world—deeper, broader and more nuanced than anything ever available before. But at its worst, and for too many, EPIC is merely a collection of trivia, much of it untrue. All of it narrow, shallow and sensational. But EPIC is what we wanted. It is what we chose. And its commercial success preempted any discussions of media and democracy or journalistic ethics.”

Meanwhile, there are some interesting and exciting developments around connection. I’m already using tools to connect WordPress to ActivityPub. Simple Mastodon Verification has been upgraded to include verification for specific authors on a WordPress site. I’m testing that out.

Tumblr has announced plans to add ActivityPub and Flickr is considering it. The latest version of Mastodon now supports RSS feeds so you can subscribe to streams on Mastodon from your favorite RSS reader, including Microsoft Outlook.

Yet as we connect more, we are confronted with how we connect. This, I believe, is where some of the real hard work around Mastodon is being done. We saw some of this in the discussions around @parkermolloy@masto.ai and journa.host. We are now seeing this in discussions around whether episcodon.net should allow partisan politics and how specific it should be about not allowing hate speech.
I posted various comments, including:

I am wondering if the toxicity is part of the human condition and if Anglicanism has anything to say about it, especially in terms of the Via Media and the Elizabethan Settlement, especially when it comes to issues around moderation, banning, public discourse, and politics.

I am wondering if there are other ways of thinking about this, perhaps along the lines of our #Anglican Via Media.
For example, can we think about #AntiLGBTQ and #ProGun policies in a nonpartisan way? It seems as if we should oppose such policies no matter what our political affiliations.

In fact, I wonder if we might be more effective in combating such policies by moving away from demonizing people from a specific parties because many in the party support abhorrent policies.

I also wonder if we need to be thinking about how we can not only be a safe space, but also a brave space where we confront our own internal and structural biases.

I wonder if instead of dismissing the instance as not a safe and pleasant community, it would be possible to work together to address some of these issues.

For example, I believe that "The Episcopal Church Welcomes You" means "No racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, or casteism" and this should be part of the server rules.

I also wonder if we need to be thinking about how we can not only be a safe space, but also a brave space where we confront our own internal and structural biases.

@perigee@toot.party responded, “yes. But with my years of work in social justice and civil rights activism, advocacy, and teaching, I must warn you that many people start this work but few stick with it. It's very difficult to confront and deconstruct internalized, colonized bias, and lots of folks figure they can handle it but ultimately find excuses not to stick with it. Let alone bear that torch and constantly bring it to others' attention.”

I think that is the challenge we face as we explore connections and community in Mastodon and the Fediverse.