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Mapping the wider fediverse

I began this journey convinced that Steampipe could help the fediverse evolve, but not sure exactly how. My first thought was to use Steampipe’s API-wrangling superpower to study patterns of communication (and conflict) across the fediverse. But as one of many Twitter escapees last November, I soon realized that the network I was joining reflected a culture that had been humming along nicely for six years and didn’t particularly want to be the object of sociological study.

As I argued in Autonomy, packet size, friction, fanout, and velocity, Mastodon bakes in certain kinds of friction for reasons. You’ve likely heard about a default unfriendliness to search, which is both a technical setting and a cultural choice that privileges the experience of current flow over the mining of past flow. Even more fundamentally, the ID of a toot not only differs from server to server but also obfuscates the toot’s date, another technical/cultural choice that means you can’t randomly access history by date. None of these frictions is insurmountable. They will be overcome for purposes good and bad. I hope and expect that communities will be able to choose their desired amounts and kinds of friction while still interoperating with others. But for my project it seemed that trying to survey the wider fediverse wasn’t the right place to start.

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