My name is Eugen Rochko and I’m the creator of Mastodon, a free, open-source federated social network with over 760,000 users. You can check it out here.
The Mastodon project is finally well-represented visually. I always felt like the previous logo did not do it justice. To its credit, it was both an M, and 3 sideways speech bubbles, but it did not scale well and overall it was just a circle. Now, after months of planning and weeks of back and forth with the designer, we have a distinct shape and a distinct font.
Along with the logo, we now have a beautiful homepage for the project itself. The kind of link you can send to someone to show them what Mastodon is without committing to any particular instance — joinmastodon.org
And as all good things come in threes, the landing page distributed along with the software itself — the instance frontpage if you will — has also been refurbished. Now that there is a project homepage to differentiate itself, the instance frontpage puts more effort into presenting a particular instance’s identity, rather than the underlying software. The name and the customizable description have a lot more prominence.
And something that’s been requested since literally day one of the project is finally here too — the frontpage now features a preview of the public timeline (“firehose”, if you will) of the instance, thereby letting you get a taste of what’s inside this hip new social network. Though instances that prefer to stay mysterious can still opt-out of that new feature.
All of the above comes bundled in our 1.5 release. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The other cool stuff can be classified into five main categories: quality of life improvements, admin features, mobile experience and accessibility, and other.
Quality of Life improvements:
Mobile experience and accessibility:
I have previously mentioned that Mastodon is looking to implement a newer federation protocol, ActivityPub, to replace OStatus in the very long term. This protocol itself is a work in progress incredibly close to being done, and I’m working closely with the W3C working group responsible to make sure the needs of the Mastodon project are well met, along with many other developers.
The implementation of a completely new underlying protocol in Mastodon is not easy. It has been an ongoing effort for a couple months, and it is split into stages. With this release, one stage of the implementation is ready — ActivityPub-compatible representations of public data. This is just a first step, but I’m proud of it anyway.
The fight for an ethical, decentralized internet is not over. We have made a significant impact in April, we’ve gotten big in Japan, but we need to keep going! We need a couple more months like April to cement our position in the public perception, to nurture the idea that no, you don’t have to just succumb to surveillance capitalism to hang out with friends and reach an audience. I truly hope that this release is another step in the right direction, in making it easier to convince people to use Mastodon.
I want to conclude this post by giving shout-outs to the people who make the development of this project possible — my patrons. Likewise, to Sorin Davidoi for implementing a huge chunk of the mobile experience improvements. To Dopatwo, for providing me with a steady supply of adorable elephant friends, and to Jin Nguyen, who designed our new logo.