Andrew Travers

Andrew Travers is a designer and researcher. He’s the author of Interviewing for research.

Birds and elephants

Posted on 25 Nov 2022

Over the past few weeks, and as I promised myself, I took myself completely off social media while I thought a bit more intentionally about what I was getting from it right now and what I wanted to get from it in future.

To my surprise, I didn’t miss Twitter as it now is. I did miss Instagram, mostly because its primary use case for me these days is knowing what the independent shops near me are up to.

Inspired, as is often the case, by a Jeremy Keith post, I did decide to sign back into Mastodon (and only Mastodon), to find 2 million more users than 3 weeks before, and many more of the faces I know and love from elsewhere.

Whatever happens with Mastodon — and some of the familiar troubles are already evident — the spirit of the indie web feels alive and decentralised. I’m slowly getting my head what that decentralisation makes possible, but I’m already excited by Matt Mullenweg’s commitment to Tumblr adopting ActivityPub; federated alternatives to Instagram or YouTube cropping up; or a future where spinning up your own private Mastodon instance might be as relatively easy as switching between the large Mastodon instances is now.

The rise of services like Mastodon and the prospect of losing Twitter — or what Twitter once was — has made me appreciate the idea of being independent but inter-connected and to re-appraise the bits of the internet that I can truly call my own and the bits I’m renting, sometimes in exchange for money, sometimes with my data.

Through the work I do, I’m in the fortunate position of having a domain name, a website, my own email service and I need to value them more or certainly to value them over posting to third party spaces I have little control over or defaulting to using Gmail because everyone else does. These last few weeks have helped me see that more clearly.

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