In reply to Finding Connectors in Mastodon by Julian Elve

This reminds me of years ago when birdsite was young I did a similar comparison for Twitter. I looked at profiles to see if they seemed in it for the conversation, in it to actually connect. Those would have a balanced ratio of followed/followers. As in contrast with profiles that were ‘large antenna arrays’ (many more followed than followers), ‘A-listers’ (many more followers than followed). Dubbed it conversational symmetry back then in that post. And yes, Valdis Krebs comes to mind too.

Although connectors are defined by their behaviour, in that they join up those who seek knowledge with those who share it, it was suggested that we look at individuals who had a high ratio of follwers to followed as a starting point. …. there’s part of me that’s not convinced that follower ratio is a good measure for who is a ‘Connector’ – perhaps a good Connector would tend to show a more balanced ratio of followers / follows? … in pragmatic terms I am pretty happy with my ad hoc observation that Connectors seem to be “balanced”…

Julian Elve

Peter has experimented for a while with Mastodon (and the ActivityPub protocol behind it) and decided that it’s not for him.

Well, this has been fun, but it turns out that the effort-vs-reward for the fediverse doesn’t balance for me; I need fewer reasons to be tethered, not more. @mastohost, recommended by @ton, was an excellent playground. In 24 hours this account will self-destruct. But, now and forever, is where you’ll find me.

I very much recognise his point. The disbalance he mentions I felt strongly in the past month, where it was absent in the five and a half years before it. The enormous influx of people, positive in itself, and the resulting growth in the number of people I followed made my timeline too busy. In response I started following topics more and am evaluating rss feeds from ActivityPub servers. The disbalance expresses itself in spending too much time in the home timeline, without that resulting in notable things. (I mean literally notable, as in taking notes) Unlike my feedreader. It does result in some interesting conversations. However such interactions usually start from a blogpost that I share. Because of the newness of AP and Mastodon to the large wave of people joining, many posts including mine are of the ‘Using Mastodon to talk about Mastodon’ type. This is of course common for newly adopted tools, and I still have a category on this blog for metablogging, as blogging about blogging has been a 20 year long pattern here. Yet it is also tiring because it is mostly noise, including the whole kindergarten level discussions between petty admins defederating each other. There’s a very serious discussion to be had about moderation, blocks and defederation, to turn it into a tool that provides agency to individual users and the groups they are part of. These tools are important, and I’m glad I have them at my disposal. Ironically such serious discussion about Mastodon isn’t easy to conduct in a Tweetdeck and Twitter style interface, such as Mastodon provides. I moved the home timeline over to the right in my Mastodon web interface, so I don’t see it as the first thing when I open it up. I’ve concluded I need to step away from timeline overwhelm. Much as I did on Twitter years ago.

A tired purple mastodont lies on the ground sleeping while groups of people are talking in the background, sketchbook style. Dall-E generated image.

There are however two distinct aspects about AP and the recent incoming wave of people that I am more interested to be engaged with than I was before this started.

First, to experiment personally with AP itself, and if possible with the less known Activities that AP could support, e.g. travel and check-ins. This as an extension of my personal site in areas that WordPress, OPML and RSS currently can’t provide to me. This increases my own agency, by adding affordances to my site. This in time may mean I won’t be hosting or self-hosting my personal Mastodon instance. (See my current fediverse activities)

Second, to volunteer for governance related topics in the wider Dutch user group of Mastodon. Regardless of my own use of Mastodon, it is an environment in which many more people than before have new choices to make w.r.t. taking their online presence and tools in their own hands. A step from a global silo such as Twitter to e.g. a larger Dutch instance, while not the same as running one’s own, can be a significant step to more personal agency and networked agency. I’m involved in a group discussing how to establish governance structures that can provide continuity to the Dutch instance, lets people on the instance have an active voice and role in its internal governance, and raises awareness of the variety of tools and possibilites out there while purposefully avoiding becoming a new silo (through e.g. providing pathways away from the instance). Such governance is not part of the Mastodon instance, but structured around it. Such involvement is an expression of my experience and role in using tech for the past 33 years online as being inherently political.

A purple mastodont is conversing with a crowd of people, sketchbook style. Dall-E generated image.

My site as a graphThis is a multi-part story about the themes I picked up at the Reboot 8 conference in Copenhagen, June 1st and 2nd.
Relationships above Information/Technology
Putting relationships above information shifts your perspective on what information filtering is dramatically. Something I noted here a number of times but which is not something that everybody easily or automatically grasps and accepts. On a number of occasions the notion came up that if you want to keep knowledge alive in your organisation, or want to ‘store’ it or protect from getting lost, you need to share it, and need to build more and stronger relationships around it. The announced death of marketing as broadcasting fits here too, as does the rebirth of marketing in its original shape of bringing your goods to market and weaving relationships around it.
Another major ingredient for filtering and dealing with information abundance. Visualization so that we may see the patterns. Pattern watching is much more important than the individual pieces of information when you are trying to make sense of the world around you, and want to see trends. Combining visualization and relationships is when information filtering really starts to get into its own.
Technology helping you to be a social animal while on the move. Staying connected to your existing relationships and being able to spot the opportunities for new ones. Who is near you, in your proximity, who is in your general location, and how can I share with them and my relationships at home and elsewhere. Plazes and Imity are examples of aspects of this. Contactivity is social connectivity. It needs technological connectivity but is a totally different beast.
ContactivityThis posting and the last four sum up the major themes I took away from Reboot, and which are likely to come up in the postings in the coming months.
All parts in this story:
I Renaissance
II Diversity
III Good Enough
IV Privacy and Ownership
V Relationships, Visualization, Contactivity

Photo’s: both by me.