Digital Presence (Hello, Couch.)

Published Tuesday, June 27, 2023 by Bryan

I joined a public Mastodon server back in November, to get a taste of the Fediverse like everyone else leaving Twitter. I picked a really nice one. It was relatively small, so it didn't experience the major outages that the huge instances did during the various social exodus events. But, it was still large enough to get a relatively broad view of the network.

It's also run by one of the admins of one of the major instances. This was really nice, as it meant there was an active admin that kept things running and up to date with new releases.

And then Meta/Facebook became a rift-inducing topic amongst the majors. I have complicated feelings on the Meta matter. But I don't have complicated feelings on my admin deciding to break my follow-ing/-er connections without warning because of a personal spat with another admin.

"Get to know your admin," they say. How well do I truly know myself? I've meant to take a more active roll in my Fediverse presence anyway, so now I've taken a step in that direction. Please say hello to the Couch: https://couch.beerriot.com/.

It's not Mastodon, but it's Mastodon-compatible. It's an Akkoma server using the Pleroma frontend. I'm aware that this stack has a bit of a stigma to it. But it's components (e.g. BEAM programming languages) that I'm familiar with, and if I need to manage it, and maybe contribute back to it, that should help.

Also, I think it's important we prevent the Fediverse from becoming a monoculture. Everyone is worried that Meta is about to launch something that will "embrace, extend, extinguish." Mastodon itself, while not a single host, is still a project with such broad coverage that it has large influence over which ActivityPub features are useful. (And frankly, whether any of the ActivityPub alternatives has a chance.) I like Mastodon - it's neat and fun - but we should be careful about creating another Chromium.

So, a pile of choices I may regret. Being on a server without as many neighbors may slow my network growth. Maintaining my own server may be too much work. A niche implementation may miss out on features.

But so far, I'm pretty happy with it. There are some neat things this UI does that Mastodon doesn't (like better display of image alt-text). I made my own careful choice about what sort of block list to implement. I've already made use of the increased character limit.

On that last note - if I'm going to have a higher character limit over there, then why also have a blog? The content of this blog post fits in a couch post - even with the raw HTML and metadata included. But I feel like there may still be some content that suits one better than the other - and many curmudgeonly "get a blog!" sub-posts I've read in reaction to long fedi-posts agree.

So, please come hang out and chat on my couch! Maybe even join the conversation about this very blog post, if you're so inclined.

Categories: Miscellaneous Rant