And now a word from…

…what exactly? I’m not your “sponsor “. Let’s just say, “A word from a beloved literary figure.”


Tech has given us a wealth of ways to communicate. It’s up to us to choose the right tool for the right job. It’s wise to avoid those with toxic effects on society. I’m lookin’ at you Facebook and Twitter.

When I closed my Facebook account a dozen years ago, I searched for a better way to share travel photos with friends. For me, blogging was the answer.

But a blog is not ideal for sharing a quick thought or an interesting photo. If I see a dog walking down the street wearing a funny Halloween costume, I’m not going to write a blog post about it. So what to do?

Many would tweet about it, some would use Instagram. I gave Twitter a try, but was put off by their refusal/inability to stop the spread of vicious political lies. Profit, anything that boosts readership, will always win out. Mr. Musk is not likely to improve the situation and arguably may make things worse.

But something like Twitter that lets you easily share content that doesn’t need a lot of explanation, would be a handy tool. Texting and similar things like WhatsApp and Signal are not the right tool for the job, although many use them this way.

Why are they not the right tool? Because the sender decides who will be interested in the information, not the recipient. Better to follow the Blogging/Twitter model; let people who find you interesting choose to follow what you post. When you become uninteresting to them, they can unfollow.

So what we need, I believe, is something like Twitter without the ads, without the personal data theft, and without the toxins. Fortunately, we have such a tool, it’s called Mastodon.

Mastodon is an open source (that is, free) system that is operated by a large crew of volunteers around the world. I’m one of them. Rather than being operated by a single for-profit company like Twitter, Mastodon is made up of hundreds of “instances” that talk to each other. A person with an account on any instance can follow or be followed by a person on the same instance or any other. Each instance has its own moderation policies. I suppose there might exist an instance for QAnon folks, but I doubt that it would be very successful. The vast majority of instances enforce policies that boil down to “don’t lie and don’t be an asshole.”

I’m running a Mastodon instance called convoglio.social. Yes, that’s a valid web site address like convoglio.com or .org or whatever. My full account name is @steve@convoglio.social. If you had an account on the same instance, you could just address me as @steve.

There are several things I’d like you to take away from this post:

First, I’ll be using Mastodon to share things I think you might like that don’t warrant writing a blog post.

Second, you’ll need a Mastodon account to read what I say on Mastodon. You can sign up for a free account at any instance that is accepting new members. You can use Mastodon either with a web browser or with a free app on your phone.

Third, you don’t ever have to post anything to Mastodon. You can simply follow as many people as you like to keep up with what they have to say.

Finally, if Mastodon has some attraction for you but you are nervous about trying to set up an account, consider joining convoglio.social. Because I’m the Admin, I can do most of the set up for you. There is also a ton of excellent tutorial material for those willing to read.

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