What’s the story behind the name?
It’s not particularly interesting. I’m a progressive metal fan, and I listen to Mastodon sometimes. They have a really cool name that refers to a really cool animal. It’s a fluffy elephant! What’s not to love?
It’s also the inspiration for Mastodon’s mascot, which was penned by Rochko’s YouTuber friend Dopatwo after he realized how urgently he required an error page.
What does “federated” mean to you?
The biggest problem with this term is that it’s new for lots of people. People who’ve come across federated networks in the past instantly understand what it means and how it works, and people who are new to the concept have a lot of trouble before it clicks. But when Twitter first started, people didn’t understand what ‘retweeting’ meant, so it’s not a unique problem domain.
I don’t know where it comes from — maybe BitTorrent — but people seem to think that when something is ‘decentralized,’ everybody gets the same thing; that it’s all synchronized one to one. In actuality, ‘federated’ means that people in different instances can talk to each other, but the content is different depending on the users there, what they do, and who they follow.
Though instances are infrastructurally independent, they can communicate with one another. On a user level, timelines are still determined by who you do and do not follow across the entirety of all instances.
What if Twitter comes to you in the near future with a job offer?
If it was any other company, I would think about it. A job is a staple source of income, and — depending on the company — could involve doing something important, but I have zero faith in Twitter.
Does this all mean that I finally get to live out my serif Twitter dream?
Yes, I suppose on your own instance, you could change the stylesheet…
So if I set up my own instance and started charging for its use, I’d be in the clear, legally?
Yes, that’s okay. The code is licensed under AGPL version three, which I picked because other projects in the same space are using it. The difference between AGPL and GPL is that [the former] forces you to contribute back to the appstream code repository if you make any breaking changes.
For example, Eugen explained that WhatsApp originally used XMPP for its chat protocol, which meant that Facebook and Google Talk users could connect to it, too. However, the company progressively locked down the platform over time, leaving virtually nothing visible that was unique to XMPP in its current iteration.
To prevent somebody taking Mastodon code, placing it behind locks, and stripping out the federation part to make Twitter II, I’m using this license.
The thing to remember about free software is that ‘free’ means freedom of the user, not that it’s zero cost. It’s perfectly fine to charge for free software because developers need to live, too.
I’ve seen a lot of multilingual ‘tooting’ these past few weeks. Can we expect an in-app translate function like Twitter’s on Mastodon?
I don’t think I could put in a ‘translate this toot’ button because APIs from Google and Bing are quite expensive at scale. I’m not 100% promising this, but I can probably put something in where people can select which language they post in, and then just filter the timelines. That would at least solve the problem of being confronted with lots of French posts, without knowing any French.
The only complaint about Twitter I remember that hasn’t already been addressed here is the capability of editable ‘toots.’ Is that a possibility?
That won’t happen. There’s actually a good reason why they don’t do that. It’s simply because you could make a toot about one thing, have people favorite it and share it, link it from other places, and then suddenly, it says ‘Heil Hitler,’ or something.