Mastodon is a new(ish), decentralized Twitter-like social network that’s grown quite a bit in the last few months. Mastodon allows individuals to host their own “instances” (i.e. run a full suite of the software on a private server in order to distribute the network), which connect to the larger universe of open-source social networks. This means that, unlike Twitter and Facebook and pretty much every major social networking platform, there’s no one person in control of Mastodon (though the largest instance is run by Mastodon’s creator). Accounts from any Mastodon instance can follow any account from any public instance.
So what, there’s another social network we have to check now?
This is Southern Fried Science. We like to push forward into new digital ecosystems and create places for marine science and conservation. In that spirit, I’ve created oceansocial.us, a Mastodon instance specifically for marine professionals working in science, education, conservation, policy, and management. Craig McClain’s latest science communication paper, Practices and promises of Facebook for science outreach: Becoming a “Nerd of Trust”., I want to see if there’s value in having an instance that makes it easy to find experts talking about the ocean. For the moment, anyone with an oceansocial.us Mastodon handle is immediately identifiable on the network, making is easier for journalist and the public to find ocean experts.
This, of course, is contingent on Mastodon actually taking off. It could still totally crash and burn and be dead as Google+ in 3 months. Mastodon is still growing, and my experience watching new social networks form (and often fail) is that’s there’s a tremendous first-mover advantage in getting something new and novel running right out the gate.