From the Couch of Ben Johnson

Father, Principal Engineer at Prodigy Education, serial hyperbolist.

The Places of Mastodon

I’ve spent a few days diving into Mastodon and the ActivityPub Fediverse. It’s new to me, but so far there’s a lot I like about it.

I’m one of those old people who are still mourning the loss of blogs. The internet moved onto Twitter, but I’ve always valued having my own place online to write, think, discuss, and archive my thoughts (this website has existed in some form since 2001). In the past few years, I’ve been using to bridge my blog with the world of Twitter by cross-posting (I like and recommend it).

Domain names are really powerful. They communicate something more than just where your content lives: the brand, identity, quality, values, or principles of your content. It’s where you’re coming from. When I write something at you know it’s just me. If I were writing from or my writing would land a little differently (for better, or for worse).

This makes me fascinated by the power of Mastodon communities. On Twitter, your handle doesn’t communicate a dimension of place. Sure, there’s a verified badge (or… there was) and there are the eggs, but when you’re writing on Twitter you’re coming from Twitter — there’s no defined community or place behind you.

With Mastodon, you and your writing come from somewhere. That could be from a huge general community (, a niche community (@example@spacelovers.up ), a personal domain (, a corporate entity (, or some awful exclusive cryptobro haunt where you need to show your apes at the door to join (

If you had told me that a lot of people in 2022 would be moving to a social network based on a W3C standards-based federation protocol I would not have believed you. And I doubt everyone is going to jump ship from Twitter to Mastodon.

But, I’m having so much fun seeing a variety of domain names on the internet again.