trying Mastodon

As of today, I am on the decentralized Mastodon network (

I would report good experiences with Twitter (as @peterlevine). I never attract enough attention there to be targeted by malicious or mean users. I don’t see fake news. (Of course, everyone thinks that’s true of themselves; maybe I’m naive.) I do enjoy following 750 accounts that tend to be specialized and rigorous in their respective domains. I read an ideologically diverse array of tweets and benefit from conservative, left-radical, religious, and culturally distant perspectives that I would otherwise miss–yet I curate my list for quality and don’t follow anyone unless I find the content useful. A bit of levity is also appreciated.

Notwithstanding my own positive experiences, I understand that Twitter does damage. At best, it’s far from optimal as a major instantiation of the global public sphere. We’d all be better off engaging somewhere else that was better designed and managed.

However, making the transition is a collective-action problem. Networks are valuable in proportion to the square of the number of users (Metcalfe’s Law). Twitter has been helpful to me because so many people are also on it, from defense logistics nerds posting about Ukrainian drones to election nerds tweeting about early ballots to political-economy nerds writing about Elinor Ostrom. For everyone to switch platforms at the same time and end up in the same place is a classic coordination dilemma.

Elon Musk may provide the solution by encouraging enough Twitter users to try the same alternative platform simultaneously. I perceive that a migration to Mastodon is underway. Joining Mastodon may offer positive externalities by helping to make it a competitive alternative. Starting anew is also pretty fun, even though the Mastodon interface isn’t too intuitive. So far, I have four followers, and the future is promising.