7 Minute Miles Header

The Art of Being Social

Posted July 7, 2023

This picture from Andy Allen of all the various Twitter-like apps now fighting for attention, along with Meta’s launch of Threads this week, really made me think about the current state of social media in 2023. As I’ve written on this site many times in the past, I find social media to be a fascinating bit of technology that has had a profound impact on life in the last two decades.

I also don’t really like most of it. Hmm.

When I think back to my primary uses of social media, it’s really been as much to stay informed as it’s been to stay connected to people. Since launching this site back in 2006, I’ve supplemented social media with posts here to keep family and friends updated on personal news (and have often automated connections between those services and this site). It automatically produces RSS feeds and content is now pushed to the Fediverse using the ActivityPub plugin. I also love this site as a way to learn new technologies and skills, such as WordPress, PHP, MySQL, Linux and AWS.

It seems like one by one, my favorite social media companies have done questionable things (Doctorow’s enshittification) that caused me to close up shop: Facebook, Instagram, then Twitter. I miss family from Facebook, restaurants from Instagram and some really awesome people on Twitter. I still keep my LinkedIn open for work reasons (after closing it once) and I’ve really grown to like my Mastodon experience. Was never on TikTok or Snapchat and it seems like I will be on the Bluesky waitlist forever (their new domain revenue model is certainly interesting). Don’t think I will try Threads at this point, given my issues with past Facebook products, but I am cautiously optimistic that the promised interactivity with the Fediverse will happen.

Read more…

flourish icon

Mastodon June 2023 Update

Posted June 15, 2023

After reading a blog post called “Why did the #TwitterMigration fail?” by Bloonface, I thought, “what kind of name is Bloonface?” Then I thought, I should write an update to my April Mastodon post. So here we are.

To be honest, I haven’t been following user numbers like I did at the beginning, so I can’t verify the “active user numbers have dropped off a cliff” statement. All I know is that a few friends who joined don’t post much and none of my family have created accounts, but WWDC week on Mastodon for me was as busy as any on Twitter. I’m now following 307 accounts and easily see similar daily traffic on Ivory as I did on Tweetbot.

I only have 34 followers, so I’ve never really been exposed to trolls or gatekeepers. As a white male, I also don’t get any of the crap that women and people of color often experience on social media platforms. And since I’m on mastodon.social, I’ve never had any issues with the moderators or their policies and I think the only service issue was spam-related (and addressed quickly).

For me, going back to Twitter is a non-starter. I don’t really care all that much about decentralization or that the platform runs on open source tools, but I do love that my Ivory timeline is just the people I follow, in chronological order, with no ads. Still waiting for my Bluesky invite to do a trial there, but I don’t see that ever being like the Tweetbot/Ivory experience. And what a hype machine they have – all that press and buzz for 100K accounts?

Running an instance is too expensive and has too many issues (in my opinion), so just like with email servers, I’ve decided I will pass on that indefinitely. I don’t currently pay for mastodon.social, but I would (and probably will eventually). Mastodon is my only social media (outside of LinkedIn), so I guess that makes me “weird relative to the rest of the Internet.”

Stay weird, Mastodon, stay weird…

flourish icon

Link: Mozilla.Social & the Mozilla Manifesto

Linked May 4, 2023

flourish icon

Three months on Mastodon

Posted April 23, 2023

Tomorrow marks three months since I joined Mastodon. Just like with Twitter and Tweetbot, I don’t use the web interface of the instance I joined (mastodon.social), but have exclusively used the iOS and macOS Ivory clients, published by Tapbots. I love their work (thanks, Paul and Mark!) – the interface is familiar and polished and my timeline syncs well between devices.

Current stats: 110 posts, 26 followers and following 252.

So what are my thoughts on Mastodon after 90 days? I’ve already written a few posts about Mastodon that you can view here, but I thought I’d write a little today about some big picture things.

Read more…

flourish icon

Mastodon and WordPress

Posted April 16, 2023

Next Sunday will be my three month anniversary on Mastodon and I’m liking it more and more each day. I’ve discovered lots of new people to follow and I’m now trying to post more like I did on Twitter. I had been a little hesitant to create a lot of content on Mastodon because there wasn’t a mechanism to capture those posts on my WordPress-based website like I used to do with the Import Tweets as Posts plugin. But that all changed this weekend…

As of today, the WordPress plugin repository has 38 plugins that are tagged with Mastodon, so I thought it was time to take a look at these in more detail. When WordPress.com owner Automattic purchased Matthias Pfefferle’s ActivityPub plugin, I decided to install and activate it here. Out of the box, it allowed me to see 7 Minute Miles posts by following “@dmk @7minutemiles.com” in my Mastodon client (no space). There are a lot of other options with that plugin that I still need to explore, including their list of other recommended ActivityPub-related plugins like Friends and NodeInfo.

The other big find this weekend was Marco Hitschler’s TootPress plugin. I was a little hesitant to test this one, as it showed fewer than ten active installations and had limited documentation. I was also a little scared that it created new tables in my database to store Mastodon posts (instead of the standard post storage method) and did it’s own thing in my uploads folder for storing images from Mastodon. It also required some API setup on the instance side, which actually turned out to be much easier than getting access to the old Twitter APIs.

So what do you get when all of this is set up? 7minutemiles.com/mastodon/

Since each Mastodon post is not a “real” WordPress post, they need to be on a dedicated page and not mixed in on the main page like I had before with tweets. I think I’m OK with that for now – everything else seems to work great (with the exception of pagination, which I’ve asked about on the support forum). There is a cron job that runs every 15 minutes to check for new Mastodon posts and any attached images seem to be handled correctly (including the alt text). It also captures the time stamp and embedded URLs just work. Nicely done, Marco!

UPDATE: pagination is working now, so I’m not sure what was up with that (I didn’t change anything).

flourish icon

The Business of Mastodon

Posted March 20, 2023

Last month I wrote about the Mastodon tech stack and today I’ll talk about the business of Mastodon: finance, marketing, legal and operations. I’m by no means an expert on any of this, but trying hard to keep in front of a news cycle that seems to get accelerated by the actions of Twitter daily. There is a lot out there to read and digest, so let’s get started.


Mastodon was created by German software developer Eugen Rochko and was first released in October 2016. Five years later, Rochko incorporated Mastodon gGmbH as a German non-profit with him serving as founder and CEO. The Mastodon code is free and open-source software (FOSS) and anyone can download the software from Github and use it to run their own social media site.

There are lots of good introductory Mastodon posts, including the one by Glenn Fleishman that I linked to last month. I won’t go into the specifics of things like the fediverse and the ActivityPub protocol, but people seem to be most interested in Mastodon as a Twitter replacement. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (@eff@mastodon.social) has also published a nice series of posts.

Read more…

flourish icon

🫡 Spider Research 🕷️

Posted March 14, 2023

Started following the Entomological Society of America on Mastodon and today I learned 1) there are brown widow spiders in addition to black widow spiders and 2) a Florida study found that the brown widows killed and consumed nearby black widows 80% of the time (!)

flourish icon

The Mastodon Tech Stack

Posted February 15, 2023

The last three weeks of using Mastodon on Ivory for iOS have been lovely. Today I was able to join the preview of the macOS version and it is also lovely. The scale of everything is smaller than Twitter, but I’m so excited about the future of this project. I’m planning to write a short series of posts here, starting with the tech stack of running a Mastodon server instance, then moving on to finance, marketing, legal and operations.

From my early research, there are many different ways to roll out and optimize a Mastodon server, but there are some core open source technologies common to everything I’ve read:

Also required: an SMTP email server and file storage. Looking at this from my AWS viewpoint, I’d probably use a Linux instance with nginx, Let’s Encrypt, Route 53, Simple Email Service (SES) and Simple Storage Service (S3). Seeing several references to Docker or Kubernetes too, but I don’t know much about how those container technologies really work (yet).

Cloudflare has their new Wildebeest offering and I’m sure there will be more “click and go” options from all of the usual suspects as well. It would be fun to create a small instance as a proof of concept, but I’d also want a design that could scale up without having to rebuild from scratch. Cost management, backup/recovery, load balancing and security are also important factors.

More to come…

flourish icon

🫡 Inter-device info transfer

Posted February 8, 2023

One of my favorite recent tech discoveries is when I open a web page on my phone (can be Safari or a webview in Ivory or NetNewsWire), then go to the dock on my iMac, Chrome has a second icon on the far right with a phone pic in the middle. Clicking on that icon opens a new tab in Chrome with the URL of the page I was viewing on the phone. Very nice!

flourish icon

🫡 Nature finds a way

Posted February 4, 2023

With Ivory on iOS and hundreds of people moving to Mastodon every hour, I’m excited about social media again (hello dasharez0ne!). Fun to read some smart voices I haven’t followed in a while, plus more and more migrations from Space Karen’s hell site every time I check. Now I just need that macOS Ivory client and some of my music, food and sports people to make the jump…

flourish icon

Mastodon Flock

Pic posted February 4, 2023

OK, this interface (and service) is pretty awesome (also liked using Followgraph and Whom to Follow)

flourish icon

Link: A New Hope for Social Networking

Linked January 27, 2023

flourish icon

🫡 In anticipation of Ivory, joined Mastodon today

Posted January 24, 2023

You can find me here: mastodon.social/@kingsbury

P.S. – already super impressed with Ivory. Kudos to the Tapbots crew!

flourish icon