Michael Calore: Nope.
Lauren Goode: Do you think you will join Mastodon?
Michael Calore: Maybe if there’s a compelling community there. If there’s a server for Swedish psych pop.
Lauren Goode: You are never going to live down Swedish psych pop. I think you mentioned that at a conference, in like a mixed crowd a few years ago, and now you’re just a Swedish psych pop guy.
Michael Calore: I am perfectly happy with that.
Lauren Goode: I don’t know if there’s a Mastodon server for Swedish psych pop, but I am curious whether or not you think we could technically set one up in the time it takes to record this podcast.
Michael Calore: Maybe.
Lauren Goode: Probably not.
Michael Calore: I don’t really know much about it.
Lauren Goode: Well, on the upside, someone is going to demystify Mastodon for us today.
Michael Calore: Sweet. Let’s do it.
[Gadget Lab intro theme music plays]
Lauren Goode: Hi everyone. Welcome to Gadget Lab. I’m Lauren Goode. I’m a senior writer at WIRED.
Michael Calore: And I’m Michael Calore. I’m a senior editor at WIRED.
Lauren Goode: We’re also joined this week by WIRED senior editor Andrew Couts, who is coming to us from a hamlet in upstate New York.
Andrew Coutts: Hi, everybody.
Lauren Goode: I just wanted to say hamlet. Hey, Andrew. How many people live in this hamlet?
Andrew Coutts: 188.
Lauren Goode: Seriously?
Andrew Coutts: Yes.
Lauren Goode: That’s incredible. Are you like mayor there?
Andrew Coutts: Nope, but I probably could be if I wanted to. I don’t know if we even have a mayor. We have a board, but it’s very small. It’s quaint. It’s nice.
Lauren Goode: I’m willing to bet that of everyone who lives in your hamlet, you have the most followers on Mastodon.
Andrew Coutts: That is probably true. I kind of hope it’s true, because if it’s not, then that means my neighbors are weirder than I think they are.
Lauren Goode: And you need to go friend them immediately. All right, well, we’ve definitely tipped off what we’re talking about today. Right now, if you’re active on any popular social media platform like Twitter or Facebook or Instagram, you’re using a centralized social media app. What does this even mean? Basically, it means that one body or one corporation holds all the power over that network. It might also mean that you really experience one primary feed when you log on to the app, but in the first two extremely chaotic weeks of Elon Musk’s ownership of Twitter, another narrative has emerged, one about decentralized social media apps. And one in particular, it’s called Mastodon. Now Mastodon looks and feels a little like Twitter, but it’s pretty different at its core, so we’ve invited Andrew on to talk about it—because Andrew, I think you, like me, spent all weekend banging your head against the keyboard trying to figure out Mastodon. Is that correct?