Flick by Susan Wilkinson

To make a positive start, I want to give some props to Eugen Rochko, the original creator of Mastodon. The explosion of independent social media onto the global landscape is mainly due to the adoption of the idea he put together in 2016. It should be remembered that many people's introduction to self-hosted communities was Mastodon. In that context, Rochko deserves respect for being the door that introduced people to a new concept.

The proliferation of Mastodon could not have been predicted, with estimations of over 11,000 installed instances of the software, serving close to nine million people. For a small project started by a 23-year-old fresh out of school, that's pretty impressive.

As interest in the fediverse grows and a diverse range of people join the independent social media space, different needs and wants become apparent. Some want their spaces to be as full as possible, while others want small communities that cater to the needs of their immediate peer group. Some people want a centralized social media experience, while others are content with having their small corner of the web. The desired experiences are just as diverse as those who populate the fediverse.

In this context, a single person can't accommodate these needs and make decisions that satisfy the need for a different experience for everyone who wants that. While Rochko should be remembered as the creator of Mastodon, his leadership style has resisted the diversification of the platform experience, choosing to cling to a hard-line stance on what he feels the project should be.

The unfortunate result of this position is the project developing a reputation for being hostile to specific populations, a propensity for unilateral decision-making and replicating the toxic conditions of centralized platforms in claims to be an ethical alternative to.

This is further complicated by his cozy relationship with Facebook and Twitter, both being notorious bad actors in the social media landscape, which is at odds with his stated goal of creating a healthier social media experience that differs from centralized platforms.

The concept of Mastodon is forward-thinking, but Rockho's leadership of that idea has raised some grave concerns and questions about his intentions and motivations.

However, as Mastodon is also open source, this provides an opportunity to diverge from Rockho's singular vision to one that is more inclusive and able to dynamically adapt to the diverse needs of a growing global community that wants to escape the trap of declining centralized social media. An alternate vision can be created that invites improvements from a wide range of people who will share their experiences and expertise to help the project nimbly navigate a constantly changing digital world.

I propose Awujo, a hard-forked alternative to Mastodon that will be managed and prioritize safety, accessibility, and ease of use, managed by a consensus of diverse voices.

Awujo is the Yoruba word for community, and it was chosen to illustrate a fundamental shift from a singular and narrow vision to a broader, more inclusive perspective. A perspective that values a collaborative approach to implement a wider range of features that speak to the needs of people who want to have a curated experience with an improved version of Mastodon.

Of course, changing the direction of a project the size of Mastdon is no small task. It will require a range of contributors and the funding to pay them for their work. But we can start now.

Let's look at a high-level overview of Awujo's goals.

It will take time to accomplish, but the framework for steady progress toward these goals can begin today.

The infrastructure for Awujo has been created, and the tools for collaboration, code repository, cloud instance for file sharing, and a platform for chat/audio/video conferencing are a part of the h.i. infrastructure (using all independent platforms, by the way, wink) is ready to be used.

A new codebase based on the fantastic Glitch fork of Mastodon can be created to be the foundation of the new direction. From that point, organizing people who want to be contributors and/or funders will take place to form the core governance that will create new standards that will define how the work will progress and standardize community involvement.

Once the new working group has been established, the overall goals will be broken down into digestible chunks that will be carefully integrated into the new codebase until all priorities have been covered. Of course, this entire process will be public.

In closing, I am glad Mastodon exists. It has provided a unique opportunity to build digital communities away from the corporate gaze I value. While Rockho's vision for it is problematic, that view does not have to define its direction.

We can improve it in ways that serve a healthier and richer experience.

And all it will take is for us to work together.

Contribute to Awujo here

If you're interested in being a contributor, DM me.





manager dropped this 2024 Apr Mon 29


thoughts projects awujo mastodon fork collaboration