We don’t need a new global town square to replace Twitter. We already have one: The Web.

The web is the world’s town square.I t’s been right there along along, and Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc., are all just layers on top of that web.

Nobody owns the web. If somebody like Twitter or Facebook puts a fence around their part of the web, that fence is just two feet tall. You can easily climb over it. If you’re not doing that, it’s because you’re choosing not to.

Mastodon is a great service. It’s not that hard to use. If you can figure out Facebook, you can figure out Mastodon. Learning to drive is harder and most of the people complaining about Mastodon being hard to use can already drive.

Mastodon is part of the much larger “fediverse,” which includes other services, which are less popular than Mastodon.1 Services join the fediverse by supporting a protocol called “ActivityPub.” It’s all very much like the way different email services interconnect with each other, and you can message from your Gmail account to another person’s Microsoft Outlook account without any difficulty.2 Already, we see WordPress blogs can be part of the fediverse, and a small blogging service called micro.blog, which I use, communicates with Mastodon using ActivityPub.

Right now, we’re not seeing a fediverse boom—we’re seeing a Mastodon boom. That needs to change. For the good of the web town square, people need to embrace that they can choose a variety of services that can all talk with one another.3 Mastodon is just one of those services.

@manuelmoreale makes similar points.

  1. And Mastodon itself is pretty unpopular, compared with Twitter, which is in turn unpopular compared with Facebook or YouTube.) ↩︎

  2. For an even better comparison, imagine if WhatsApp and Apple Messages could talk with each other. They’re similar but not identical—you’d lose some features but mostly you could communicate just fine. ↩︎

  3. Kind of like the way your can read a Substack newsletter in email or on the web, and likewise you can get email updates on WordPress blogs. ↩︎

Mitch Wagner @MitchW