Oh, we have this other service, too…

Do not recognize this cartoon/logo/icon? It is a mastodon[W], using a tablet, engaging with social media.

It is one of many images associated with Mastodon social software[S], which is a little bit like Twitter except not at all like Twitter.com. 

In short, Mastodon is a microblogging service. You can read short bits of text, look at images or watch bits of video, play audio files… all the sorts of small-scale sharing you might find or do at that other much-more-well-known site.

But! This network is based on ActivityPump[R] and other open source software, which means there is no central server some place which is running it, and collecting all the content you create, and selling your browser to advertisers, and spying on you. Instead, we are hosting our own instance. And if you want to sign up, you can. And if you do, but you want to leave later, you can. And if you want to take all of your content with you, you can.

And, since this is based on users, if you think someone is doing something wrong, you can report them, and something will be done about them. Or you can do something yourself, like silencing them, or preventing them from seeing you.  And, for that matter, you can make your content as public or as private as you are comfortable with, each posting has its own privacy.

Which are things not exactly available at the bird site. Does this mean it is better? No. It is just different. Should you immediately quit using the other social media and go hog wild on Mastodon? Definitely not! or, that is, things are subtly different. You would not expect all lakes and rivers to have the same depths as the one you know, so do not expect to dive into Mastodon and understand it completely either.

Mastodon is not searchable in the same way. You cannot search for hashtags the same way. There is no software suggesting who you might be interested in following, or what topics are hot or trending. This is deliberate. The goal is for people to find others and conversations on topics of mutual interest, and that takes more effort than a quick search allows.

On the bird site, postings are called ‘tweets’. On Mastodon they are called ‘toots’. A clown might, to entertain children, squeeze his nose to generate a honk-honk sound, a sort of toot. In French, the children say pouët-pouët for the same thing.

Our instance is pouët.ça – “honk that!”