I've got this hunkering to "switch to" Mastodon. It's billed as a Twitter replacement but it really isn't because it can't gratify the way that Twitter does. And quite frankly when we talk about a more open and rogue web in comparison to Facebook, Twitter was my comparitive rebellion.
I guess both Facebook and Twitter are their own little worlds, but somehow Twitter feels more like part of the "real" web. For a long time it had very liberal APIs which meant that a lot of your stuff could be ingested and rebroadcast elsewhere through a variety of tools (the embeds work particularly well with my blogging engine to this day), whereas Facebook stuff was meant for the Facebook place, period.
Maybe that rationale is a little obtuse but in any case no matter how hard people try to roll Twitter into a problematic free speech menace, I've never felt that way about it.
It's not just losing reach that would bother me about switching, it's the idea of joining somebody's good-will server instance that I know is costing them a lot to run. To be "tooting" and gobbling up server space with the media content of the people that I follow would leave me feeling bad for whomever capriciously allowed me to hop on board. At some point I'd wind up paying patronage if I have any kind of soul left at this age. Or not, and having that much less of a soul.
So, I'd want to run my own instance. But I'm finding out that doing so is pretty expensive. Or, at least, in my case, backpedals on trying to save money while having more technical fun and control using my own equipment and internet connection. To host this blog for example, I got rid of paid web hosting. It's running on a machine inside my house that I pay nothing extra for other than the electricity and whatever capital expenses there are in setting up the (cough) "server". Being pelted only a couple every other days with a single web visitor or two adds little to the overhead. It's no fiscal burden whatsoever.
But Mastodon, when you aren't just seeing it with user-only eyes, like pretty much anything on the web, looks a lot different from a technical and economic perspective. You have to pay for a database, the space, the data transfer, and so on.
I looked into the "marketplace" installs of some of the cloud providers such as Linode and others, and all of them put one at around $30-$40/month for a reasonable Mastodon setup. You can actually run a very meager instance for much less -- they had said meager offerings -- but I found myself wheezing with constraint just by reading about them.
Paying for your own single-user instance Mastodon server is just too pricey compared to the price of Twitter Blue. If you want to get down to it, paying for a Twitter Blue account is the same as paying a hosting company but for far less money yet far more storage capacity. And professionals there are left running it. Or what's left of them I mean.
Now, if you caught that I'm already running my own web server in general, you might wonder why not just run my own Mastodon instance and skip even the hosting fees? Then I'd be completely federated on the cheap!
Except that my setup has a lot of inherent technical incompatibilities that would take a huge learning curve to close. The biggest issue is that Mastodon runs on a Linux server (Debian) whereas everything I do is on boring old stupid-head Windows IIS.
Sure this is a PHP blog and all, but Windows actually does PHP and basic MySQL fine. That choice doesn't seem to be there with Mastodon. Hosting my own Mastodon would mean switching everything over to Linux, or, setting up yet a completely separate box in my house, thereby stretching the final stable amps from the house's ancient wiring and forever condemning me to avoid using the microwave.
Question of enough electrical power aside, I'd have to learn server-level Linux well enough to launch and maintain Mastodon, too. Not impossible of course (and I would add, probably inevitable just generally speaking), but not enough in time to feel secure with my own operation.
So I find myself passing. And I'm not even disagreeing that Twitter is crumbling apart. It is. It's just that it's collapsing in ways that aren't hitting me straight up yet. Ironically a guy with a big mouth like me would seem the perfect type to clash with the rules of any major social media platform, but I have a reasonable big mouth (I learned at some point that's how you really drive people crazy). I don't see myself ever violating Twitter, especially Elon's Twitter, and entering a contest of platform.
I must truly be old because I see Twitter as the most reasonably priced hosting provider for microblogging for a guy who will never say anything dangerous, in a dangerous enough way, to get booted.
By Dave for Personal Blog.
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