Valente and Doctorow on the Fediverse and Communities

From LiveJournal to Twitter, I’ve experienced the scattering of communities and felt that loss. To understand what is being built in the fediverse, what is at stake, and what to avoid, reading these two pieces goes a long way.

Cory Doctorow published an article, “What the fediverse (does/n’t) solve” on his Pluralistic site framed around Catherynne M. Valente’s also excellent “Stop Talking to Each Other and Start Buying Things: Three Decades of Survival in the Desert of Social Media“. They both cover so much of what is good about online communities and the sickening threat of for-profit or for-evil interventions into those spaces. From LiveJournal to Twitter, I’ve experienced the scattering of communities and felt that loss. To understand what is being built in the fediverse, what is at stake, and what to avoid, reading these two pieces goes a long way.

Geeks, though. Us weird geeks making communities in the ether? We love. We love so stupidly hard. We try to be happy. We get enthusiastic and devote ourselves to saving whales and trees and cancelled science fiction shows and each other. The energy we make in these spaces, the energy we make when we support and uplift and encourage and excite each other is something people like Musk can never understand or experience, which is why they keep smashing the windows in to try and get it, only to find the light they hungered for is already gone. Moved on, always a little beyond their reach.

Stop Talking to Each Other and Start Buying Things: Three Decades of Survival in the Desert of Social Media

The right of exit and the freedom of reach (the principle that anyone can talk to anyone who wants to talk to them) are both key to technological self-determination. They are both imperfect and incomplete, but together, they are stronger, and form a powerful check on both greed and cruelty-based predation.

What the fediverse (does/n’t) solve

On Mastodon, you can export all your followers, and all the people who follow you, with two clicks. Then you can create an account on another server and again, with just two clicks, you can import those follows and followers and be back up and running, your community intact, without being under the thumb of the server manager who decided to sell your community down the river (you can also export the posts you made).

What the fediverse (does/n’t) solve

Image from Tobias: Fediverse mosaic

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