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Thomas Ricouard Medium (via Scribe)

The making of Ice Cubes, an open source, SwiftUI Mastodon client

Thomas Ricouard:

This is the first article in what I hope will be a long series of stories about the making of the Ice Cubes app. This article will focus on what the app is, the general story behind it, and an overview of the codebase.

I’ve been using Ice Cubes (source code, App Store) for all Mastodon stuff on my phone since it was first released, and I really like it. I didn’t know it was open source at the time, but even better: its author is writing all about the making of it. Looking forward to this series!

Changelog Interviews Changelog Interviews #528

Into the Fediverse

This week Evan Prodromou is back to take us deeper into the Fediverse. As many of us reconsider our relationship with Twitter, Mastodon has been by-and-large the target of migration. They helped to popularize the idea of a federated universe of community-owned, decentralized, social networks. And, at the heart of it all is ActivityPub. ActivityPub is a decentralized social networking protocol published by the W3C. It is co-authored by Evan as well as; Christine Lemmer-Webber, Jessica Tallon, Erin Shepherd, and Amy Guy. Today, Evan shares the details behind this protocol and where the Fediverse might be heading.

Tyler Deitz

StreetPass: Find your people on Mastodon

Creator Tyler Deitz says:

StreetPass is a browser extension that helps you find your people on Mastodon. It piggybacks off the way Mastodon handles decentralized identity verification and turns it into a simple discovery tool that recommends users based on the websites you visit! Available for Chrome and Firefox (soon Safari).

Discovery is one of the more challenging facets of federated social networking. It gets even more challenging now that Twitter’s API is getting paywall’d, so most of the free tools to port your Twitter social graph over to Mastodon will quit working. I expect more tools like StreetPass to pop up in the coming days as the Fediverse seems to be capturing that hacker spirit Twitter once embraced.

Tony Stubblebine Medium (via Scribe)

Medium embraces Mastodon

Medium CEO, Tony Stubblebine:

Today, Medium is launching a Mastodon instance at to help our authors, publications and readers find a home in the fediverse. Mastodon is an emerging force for good in social media and we are excited to join this community.

This strikes me as smart for Medium and a big vote of confidence for Mastodon and the entire concept of federated social networking. With Tumblr support (allegedly) coming as well, what’s next? Reddit?!


How to rebuild social media on top of RSS

Jacob O’Bryant’s “Grand Vision For How Social Media Ought To Be”:

there should be a bunch of different:

  • publishing services, like Substack and Ghost
  • reading apps, like Gmail and Matter
  • community platforms, like Slack and Discord

and we should look for ways to make these reading, publishing, and community services all play nicely together. I’m calling this model “the unbundled web,” and I think RSS should be the primary method of interop.

Where do I sign up? 😉

Armin Ronacher

Scaling Mastodon is impossible

Let’s see if this ages well, but I do agree that Armin shares some good points. Scale comes with mainstream, and mainstream Mastodon isn’t quite possible if we can’t all agree (and we can’t). This is probably Mastodon’s most obvious achilles heel — agreement in a decentralized, federated, you can “do what you want” world.

…before we even hit the issue of the technology, we hit the issue of there being absolutely no agreement of what the thing should look like or what the issue actually is and that’s I think much more interesting.

Some people claim the solution to the technical scalability issue is huge instances, some other people have the belief that the actual intended design and solution were micro-instances of in extreme cases a user each.

Then there’s moderation, which if you’ve ever run any community forums, Slacks, etc you’ll know that you’re going to have to moderate and deal with people problems.

On the topic of moderation the very same issue is even more absurd. Some instances want uncontrolled free speech where some instances effectively are pure shit-posting instances which are completely de-federated from the most of the fediverse as a result. Other instances really like to control their content, where some popular ones such as fosstodon ban all languages than English as a result to allow moderation. There also is no real agreement on if larger or smaller instance are going to make the problem of moderation better or worse.


A timely TIME interview with Mastodon founder Eugen Rochko

Apropos of nothing 😉

Mastodon, a decentralized microblogging site named after an extinct type of mammoth, recorded 120,000 new users in the four days following billionaire Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, its German-born founder Eugen Rochko tells TIME. Many of them were Twitter users seeking a new place to call their online home.

Those users, whether they knew it or not, were following in the footsteps of Rochko, 29, who began coding Mastodon in 2016 after becoming disillusioned with Twitter. “I was thinking that being able to express myself online to my friends through short messages was very important to me, important also to the world, and that maybe it should not be in the hands of a single corporation,” Rochko says. “It was generally related to a feeling of distrust of the top down control that Twitter exercised.”

Adam and I first spoke with Eugen in 2018 (before it was cool) and even signed up on his instance, but haven’t started posting there… yet. I’m a bit skeptical of its ability to scale beyond technologist circles. But maybe that’s okay?

link Icon is shutting down

After more than half a decade (6+ years), is shutting down. The reason? One person is responsible (Ash Furrow) and they’ve hit their limit personally and technically.

A member of my family was very recently diagnosed with a terminal illness. I am doing everything I can to support them.

Last week, with yet more Elon Musk and Twitter news, the fediverse generally experienced extra traffic with an influx of new users. I woke up to downtime alerts. In the midst of supporting my family, I had to ssh into a server and fiddle with settings.

I am exhausted.

The server has also gotten too large and too complex for me to administer. I’ve always been keen to learn the next new skill I need to be an effective admin. But I just don’t have it in me anymore. The monitoring that I have in place is insufficient to solve the current problems and I have zero bandwidth to invest in learning the skills to diagnose and fix the issue.

Ages ago (4 years) we talked with Eugen Rochko on The Changelog (the creator of Mastodon) about the “absolute freedom in how people can run their servers,” and how the “incentives are usually ideological” when running a Mastodon server.

Yes, we talked about the costs of running a server, but from my recollection that seemed to be purely from a monetary perspective. The costs of running a server are also quite time intensive and those costs needs to be factored in as well.


RSS is wonderful

Brandon Quakkelaar:

I am not a big social media guy anymore. Over the last few years I’ve been actively avoiding it. I’m not a fan of each platform’s privacy concerns, and users need to be very cautious to avoid flamewars and infinite doomscrolling. If we aren’t careful, social media’s default state seems to devolve into just destroying trust and goodwill. I prefer society in real life.

However, avoiding social media means that we lose a lot of interesting articles, funny memes, and informative videos that are shared on those platforms.

In case you haven’t guessed it, he goes on to prescribe RSS as the solution to this problem. I have a half-written blog post titled, “RSS is the indie social network we’ve been looking for”… so I tend to agree with him.


One million people saw my dumbest tweet

This article won’t help you write better code, but it might help you better manage your relationship with Twitter. (Which could help you write better code.) It’s also really well written.

Social media are the Trojans at the gates of your mind. Their wooden horse is magnificent. It glistens with all of the fittest memes. I let those Trojans into the fortress of my mind, and it was a mistake.

If you’re intrigued by faustian bargains, incremental games, and petrichor… give it a read.

Marko Živanović

Screw it, I'll host it myself

Marko Zivanovic has had enough of letting other people own his data:

Owning your data is more than just having backup copies of your digital information. It’s also about control and privacy. It’s about trust. I don’t know about you, but I don’t trust a lot of services with my data (the ones I do are few and far between).

How does he replace all those hosted services?

I created a simple diagram to roughly show how my personal setup works. Before you say anything – I’m aware that there’s a group of people that wouldn’t consider my self-hosting as pure self-hosting. I’m using Vultr to host my web-facing applications and not a server in my house. Unfortunately, the current situation doesn’t allow me to do that (yet).

This all looks like a lot of work to pull off, but maybe it’s worth it?

Screw it, I'll host it myself


Jam is an OSS alternative to Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces

With Jam you can create audio rooms that can be used for panel discussions, jam sessions, free flowing conversations, debates, theatre plays, musicals and more. The only limit is your imagination.

The README has an excellent feature comparison to help you decide if Jam is right for you. They also have a PRIVACY file, which is nice to see.

Feross Aboukhadijeh

Virus Cafe: Make a friend in 2 minutes

Hey folks! I built Virus Cafe to help you make a friend in 2 minutes! My goal is to help people stuck indoors because of COVID-19 (or police curfews) to make meaningful connections with strangers.

Here’s how it works:

  1. You are matched with a random partner for a video chat
  2. You’re given a deep question to discuss. You have 2 minutes!
  3. The only rule is: no small talk!

Small talk is the worst and I’m on a mission to eradicate it. I’ve expertly crafted over 200 questions designed to stimulate good conversation and skip past the boring introductions.

Here are a few samples:

  • When in your life have you been the happiest?
  • What would you be willing to die for?
  • What is the biggest lie you’ve told without getting caught?
  • What is a belief you had as a child that you no longer have?
  • What human emotion do you fear the most?
  • If a family member murdered someone, would you report them to the police?
  • What absolutely excites you right now?

I hope you use Virus Cafe to meet a new friend and make a deep connection today.

Matt Mullenweg

Matt Mullenweg on acquiring Tumblr

Kudos to Verizon (words I never expected to type) for how they handled the process. I couldn’t think of better hands to receive the once-vibrant social network and shepherd it into the next era:

Automattic is still a startup — I’m sure there are deep-pocketed private equity firms that could have outbid us, but the most likely outcome then would have been an “asset” getting chopped up and sold for parts. (This is a caricature and there are PE firms I like, but it’s not a terrible stretch of the imagination.) Instead, Tumblr has a new chance to redefine itself in 2019 and beyond. Its community is joining with WordPress’ 16-year commitment to open source and the open web.

link Icon

How to run a small social network site for your friends

Darius Kazemi, recent Mozilla Fellow and one of my favorite internet artists, has put together a comprehensive guide on how to run your own social network. The Mastodon instance he runs, Friend Camp, seems like one of the more fun and positive social networks around.

This document exists to lay out some general principles of running a small social network site that have worked for me. These principles are related to community building more than they are related to specific technologies. This is because the big problems with social network sites are not technical: the problems are social problems related to things like policy, values, and power.

Changelog Interviews Changelog Interviews #346

Off the grid social networking with Manyverse

We’re talking with Andre Staltz, creator of Manyverse — a social network off the grid. It’s open source and free in every sense of the word. We talked through the backstory, how a user’s network gets formed, how data is stored and shared, why off-grid is so important to Andre, and what type of user uses an “off-the-grid” social network.

Changelog Interviews Changelog Interviews #315

Join the federation?! Mastodon awaits...

We talked with Eugen Rochko, the creator of Mastodon, about where Mastodon came from the problem it aimed to solve. How it’s not exactly Twitter alternative, although that’s its known claim to fame. Why it’s probably not going anywhere. The ins-and-outs of federation, getting started, running an instance, why you would want to — cool stuff you’ve never considered could be built on top of Mastodon. And finally, the story behind naming posted content a “toot”.

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