Can you meet someone without an algorithm? If you’re on Twitter or LinkedIn who you meet and what content you see is hugely influenced by a program controlled by these companies. The new social network Mastodon wants to prove you can have a social engagement without central control by an unseen algorithm. Impossible? Well, something is working as it approaches almost 10 million members.
On Twitter, as well as others suggestions about who to pay attention to – what messages to look at, who to connect with are regarded as essential and for the benefit of the member. But who do they really benefit? Are they objective? For example, is it any surprise that Elon Musk is a frequent suggestion about who to follow or what tweet you want to look at? Coincidence?
Many people are skeptical, with good reason. But the reason that algorithm is there is that it works. It points you where you want to go – or does it? Maybe its just a way of leveraging the dopamine receptors in you brain. Maybe it’s a way of controlling you. So you get excited by the number of followers you have. You get shown people and ideas that reflect your interests….
However they do it. It works. People go down the rabbit hole following where the algorithm leads them.
At it’s best, it will serve you what you are interested in. It might bring some people together. But at it’s worst, it encourages an every intensified experience, it drive wedges between different groups, and it brings out the worst and most extreme behaviour radicalizing and indoctrinating people.
So we return to the question – can a social media site survive without that dopamine hit? Can it prosper without an algorithm to guide it?
Mastodon, an alternative to Twitter, is an experiment – one of many, but one that has somehow succeeded where, to date, others have failed.
Mastodon doesn’t have an algorithm. There is no central control. Respect is earned. And so far, for the almost 10 million people who have joined, it’s a breath of fresh air and a please place to share information.
ITWC built our own site at technews.social – it’s free, it’s focused on people and journalists who are interested in technology.
But just because there is no algorithm, it doesn’t mean that people aren’t focused on trying to make the user experience better and better. My guest is one of those people.
My guest today is Alex Barredo. Creator of Mastodeck – a new interface for Mastodon users. You can find him on Mastodon at:
If you are interested in trying Mastodon and want to get started, come around to technews.social and we’ll help you get started.
PS. Here’s some of the guides to Mastodon that I’ve found.
Buffer has a beginner’s guide to Mastodon
I like this “Ride the Mastodon” guide because its so simple and easy to understand.
Going beyond the beginner’s guide, here’s what I think might be the definitive detailed guide on GitHub
And if you seriously want to go down the rabbit hole, someone compiled a massive list of things written about Mastodon. Clear your afternoon – or weekend.