Weeknotes – Ending 30/06/23

More holiday

Week two of holidays has been considerately more sedate than week one, and that was definitely by design given how busy last week was. It’s been moderately restful and most importantly I got to unplug from work related things long enough to feel like I’m ready to get stuck back into them again.

Fediverse Musings

I’ve spent more time fiddling with Mastodon, Pixey and Kbin this week, and generally trying to wrap my head around ActivityPub. I think the idea of ‘smaller’ communities that are linked together is really interesting. My experience of bobbing around these Reddit/Twitter/Instagram alternatives is that feeling of people who have found a much smaller, quieter, kinder community and are really loving it. It does very much feel like the early days of Twitter before it hit maintstream appeal.

I’ve observed that these smaller communities don’t seem to be for everyone, especially if the goal is primarily audience reach. There’s no algorhithm to game. Your connections grow at the speed that you can form relationships with people. There’s something really refreshing about this. To the point that when I did see someone doing some self promotion, it was quite jarring as it looked so different to what most people were sharing.

That’s bound to change as these communities grow. And I dare say that when they reach a certain size, bad actors will appear to stress test the moderation tools, and the moderators themselves. But perhaps that’s the point of Federation? Keep communities reasonably sized but enable them to communicate with one another so they feel like part of a larger whole.

Actually, one of the negative patterns I’ve spotted is that some people can get a bit gatkeeper-y, badgering newbies if they don’t adhere to what they see as the required ettiquette. Some of it is well intentioned, like including descriptions with uploaded images to improve accessibility. But I imagine it can come across as quite off putting if your first interactions are being chastised about doing something wrong. Getting the right culture in place is the job of the server admin(s) and moderation team, so this isn’t insurmountable, but again, gets harder as the community grows.

There’s also a pattern where people go to a new platform just to bitch about the old platform they’ve left. A bit like someone who’s just split from a partner, but can’t help but spend all their time relating any conversation back to them and all the terrible things they did. I absolutely understand the urge and some of the gratification that comes from it. But I suspect it’s unlikely to be productive in the long term if we all just use the new places to talk about how bad the old places were. Perhaps a bit more looking forward than backward? Maybe, like leaving a partner, we need to go through some sort of collective grieving process first in order to move on with our lives?

Centralised social media

Thinking about the old model for this stuff, I’m not sure whether big centralised social media platforms are ever going to be profitable, or rather, whether they’ll ever be profitable enough without the constant pressure for growth ehshittifying things for users.

There are times in the past where I would’ve gladly paid to support Twitter, but I suspect I’m in the minority. We’ve unfortunately become accustomed to using ‘free’ products and services which ultimately end up being extractive. The concept of ‘content creators’ and ‘influencers’ has promoted an idea of partnership between people and the platform. But of course, in the long run the platform tends to do what’s in it’s best interest and it’s not really an equal partnership if there’s little to no dialogue about those changes and their impact.

I was reading up on BlueSky Social this morning in an attempt to better understand what it’s trying to be. It seems to be a privately funded alternative to Mastadon/ActivityPub. I guess, because it was initially spawned from Twitter, the familiarity of it is what’s currently driving people toward it. Well, that and because it’s invite only it’s got an air of being exclusive and where all the cool kids are. Whilst there remains a singular instance of it, I wonder whether the federated nature of it is clear at the moment. I’ve not used it at all, so can’t comment on whether it has any promise. Will it really be any better or different than Mastadon? Perhaps everyone will just converge onto a singular instance to try and emulate Twitter. I suspect that will also emulate some of the less good aspects of Twitter too.

3D Printing

I had a need for something to mount the cable box behind one of the TV’s in the house. Yeah… I probably could’ve put some command strips on it and stuck it to the wall, but I thought I’d try and design a wall mounted bracket to hold it because I like finding excuses to do nerdy stuff.

The design process for anything I make from scratch is usually a bit (or a lot) of a learning experience. I’m sure if I was better at measuring things and designing them in CAD, this probably wouldn’t lead to as many surprises! But every thing I design and print does feel somewhat iterative. Having the phyiscal thing to try out in situ always prompts more thoughts about how it could be improved.

I’m used to doing this with software, but with a physical thing that has a sole purpose, it’s pleasingly more obvious about whether it’s functional or not. Does it print okay? Yep. Does it fit? Yep. Does it hold the box to the wall? Yep.

Interesting stuff

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