If you have no idea what Mastodon is (not the band, the social platform), then this article is a great place to start. Move on to the official FAQ here, if you like. I've been reading about it all morning. :)
Like all y'all, I've longed for a Something Better in the social-media realm for quite a while. I *know* it isn't just age that makes me feel like there was some grand possibility for Internet Social Life to explode and become amazing, back in the 90's; and that it's somehow been dammed or diverted since then.
I certainly wouldn't be the first to posit that Facebook and Twitter have been the greedy corporate dams installed on that early gush of Internet possibilities. Being a teenager in the grip of that early rush, and then a sorta-adult in the data-mined-to-all-hell future, it's perhaps easy for me to feel like what we really wanted out of this got…diverted, somewhere. Hijacked, perhaps. We wanted to use this amazing New Telephone That Can Do Video And EVERYTHING to call all of our friends at once, make friends in other countries like Dad's HAM Radio +5, join groups all over and do awesome things together…and instead, we wound up with centralized, curated, marketing-infested feeds, and a privacy (not to mention political) nightmare.
Maybe Mastodon isn't The Thing that takes it all back, that lets us just connect to each other, darnit, without the intrusion and manipulation of greedy middlemen…but this, Mastodon, is the first thing that's really made me say…maybe it is. I'm also thrilled to report that, as a software backend, the project seems conscious of and involved in the awesome attention-economy-destroying design principles exemplified by timewellspent.io. Freaking YAY.
I haven't signed up yet, but only because I'm pausing to consider whether I'd rather run my own server. It might be much better than Slack as a community-tool (Slack is, I maintain, wonderful as a work-tool, and still one of my fav sysadmin-management backbones, but…) — it has, it seems, the good features of a Twitter without most of its drawbacks, and the FB features it doesn't have, it wouldn't be hard for it to do better. On the other hand, I haven't fully explored what's involved, so, this is me excitedly talking out my butt for a moment. Realism will be along shortly, after more reading. :)
If you have thoughts on this software / topic, I would love to hear them!