Tech journalism is stunted

Not all but most of it. Consider this:

Tech Journalism Doesn’t Know What to Do With Mastodon | by George Dillard | Dec, 2022 | Medium

Twitter fits easily into the standard tech journalism templates, which include:

  • “New, exciting tech company will revolutionize everything!”
  • “Older, established tech company releases new product!”
  • “Look how rich or weird this tech CEO is!”
  • “Tech company acquires another tech company!”
  • “Tech company is on the rise!”
  • “Tech company is in decline!”
  • And, when things go awry: “Tech founder faces criminal charges!”

Tech journalism isn’t special in this regard. Every genre of journalism has narrative grooves — ruts may be a better word — into which it easily slides.

Journalists don’t know about Mastodon. Neither do the people pushing about Mastodon. There’s no common ground.

Twitter has seen several trends around “mass exodus”; I remember the time pre-pandemic, about making the shift to Mastodon. The service itself is “decentralised” (which doesn’t make sense to most of us). In the same vein, “setting up your own instance” where the terminology is so confusing about “Fediverse” and activity “pubsubhub”.

Here’s something:

Mastodon is not a company. It’s an open-source platform that isn’t owned by anybody. It has a founder, a German guy named Eugen Rochko, who seems to be the opposite of the standard megalomaniacal tech founder. He started Mastodon as a personal project, and he maintains it along with hundreds of other volunteers via Github. Nobody controls Mastodon. It’s decentralized on purpose — a person or institution can set up their own Mastodon server, which can communicate with other servers just like you can email somebody on Outlook from your Gmail account.

Perhaps most importantly, no one is profiting off of Mastodon. Unlike almost everything in the tech industry, it wasn’t started as a way to make its founders piles of cash.

Mastodon has its own share of limelight, but I sincerely doubt people would actually leave Twitter. They have invested “time, money and some effort” to “grow their audiences”. The SEO powered WordPress has numerous articles around “growing your social media followers” or LinkedIn “tips” around becoming an influencer. Mastodon is without these “growth hacks” or lacks “virality” without the fuel or “re-tweets”. I have dealt with several influencers who privately confess they lack the “technical know-how”. So, definitely, there is a marketing effort to brandish the credentials.

Social media is hot air. It has conditioned individuals and entire populations that getting coveted ticks or “likes” equates to a real world influence. No. It doesn’t. Media won’t tell you that.

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