On a recent episode of You’re Wrong About, Sarah Marshall delivered a crisp summary of how the 24-hour news cycle came to be. This led me to realize that many among us do not remember when news was confined to time slots: the 7 o’clock news, the 11 o’clock news, the morning paper. I think it might be healthy to bring that back in some form. From the excitement I heard in their voices I gather that Sarah Marshall and her co-presenter Blair Braverman feel the same way. When I hear people complain about Mastodon’s lack of breaking news, I think: “Feature, not bug!” Maybe what the 24-hour cycle has been breaking is us.
So when press.coop launched today I was a bit conflicted. On the one hand, I would like to use Mastodon to read mainstream news headlines just as I once used RSS to do. (Full disclosure: press.coop is run as a public service by hello.coop whose founder, Dick Hardt, is a longtime friend.) On the other hand, when reading Mastodon timelines I’m enjoying NOT knowing what’s happening in the world right now.
What would it take to implement the same idea in the Mastodon reader I’m developing? It couldn’t be just an extra WHERE condition, could it?
Well, actually, it could.
Problem solved. Now I can read news in Mastodon when and how I want, and never see it otherwise.
If you want that same control, you shouldn’t have to use a particular Android client, or Steampipe client, or any other. There’s a Cambrian explosion of such creatures right now. The more they can share important DNA, the better for all of us.
My Steampipe + Mastodon adventure notwithstanding, let’s hold on to that larger idea. The fediverse is our chance to reboot the social web and gain control of our information diets. Since our diets all differ, it ought to be trivial for anyone — in any client — to turn on a rule like news only on lists, not timelines. I’ve shown one way it can be trivial. Please show me others!