Dev Branch

EP25 – Mastodon + On + On – Dev Branch

February 3, 2023

On this episode, Jason Tucker and Jason Cosper discuss the building blocks of Mastodon and how to connect a WordPress website to Mastodon. Jason Cosper talked about Mastodon at the WPNYC Meetup and discussed running a Mastodon server and the plugins needed to interact with Mastodon and the Fediverse at large with WordPress using ActivityPub and a few supporting plugins to make things work better.

00:00 – Intro
01:30 – Cosper explains Mastodon
10:56 – How is Mastodon tied to WordPress
16:03 – NodeInfo
17:40 – WebFinger
21:05 – Post Formats
25:25 – Shout out to Friends
26:36 – WPNYC Meetup
27:54 – Forming communities
32:05 – Outro


Episode Transcription

[00:00:00] Sé Reed: I heard you were talking about books, so

[00:00:08] Jason Tucker: This is episode number 25 of Dev Branch Mastodon. On and on.

[00:00:18] I’m Jason Tucker. You can find me over at Jason Tucker dot log.

[00:00:27] Jason Cosper: That.

[00:00:27] Jason Tucker: see, Reid.

[00:00:30] Jason Cosper: Yeah, she is still having internet issues and y’all know who it is. It’s your boy Jason, Cosper, AK A Fat Mullenwig back at it again on the world’s most influential WordPress podcast.

[00:00:40] Jason Tucker: Speaking of those podcasts, you can listen to us on Apple Podcast, audible, Google, Spotify, all those places, and go hang out with us in our Discord links in the video description down below. Kos, how you doing today?

[00:00:55] Jason Cosper: Doing. Okay. it’s a two-person WPwatercooler today, two-person dev branch today.

[00:01:00] Jason Tucker: Yep. Yep.

[00:01:02] Jason Cosper: Yeah.

[00:01:03] Jason Tucker: Hopefully Sé pops in. That’d be cool to see her.

[00:01:06] Jason Cosper: yeah. And she’s very welcome to join. She’s still having internet issues. It’s, annoying. I think no one is no more annoyed at this than say is. I just. Having such a hard time with it, and, hopefully, hopefully those things get ironed out soon.

[00:01:23] Jason Tucker: We’ll get things figured out.

[00:01:25] Jason Cosper: Absolutely. We always do.

[00:01:27] Jason Tucker: Mastodon, I’ve heard of this thing. . It’s like the, it’s a new upstart. I think they just invented it like a week ago. At least that’s the way people are feeling about it. And and now there’s all these things that you can do with Mastodon and in particular getting your website to actually talk to the thing.

[00:01:46] which sounds pretty awesome. So how you went and did this whole, talk in, New York virtually? Of course. And you talked about a bunch of this stuff and I asked you, I was like,it was like a half an hour talk. what’d you do? And you you surprised me when you told me. It was like, what’d you say?

[00:02:04] Two and a half.

[00:02:06] Jason Cosper: Yeah. when Stina,had me, talk to the W P n YC meet up for, I said, how long do you need me to go? and, she said, as long as you want to go. And,folks had questions and everything else. And, we talked, both about, running your own master on server, which I do. and and like what goes into that, the moderation, everything else, but also, tying your WordPress site into.

[00:02:33] Mastodon. And, now to be clear, and I was, clear when I was giving the talk, this is, people are saying mastodon and it’s a blanket term or they’re using it, as a blanket term for the larger. federated universe of different apps, different things that can all communicate with each other, in this kind of new, decentralized, social media kind of way.

[00:03:01] Mastodon has become this shorthand. when you search for something, you don’t, say you searched for something, you say you Googled it. Even if you use Duck, duck Go, or Bing or Alta Vista or whatever,you don’t blow your nose with a tissue. You go get a Kleenex and blow your nose.

[00:03:16] Jason Cosper: Like it’s one of, it’s starting to become one of those generic terms and, rightfully There are people pushing back on it. . there are folks who are just like, Hey, wait a minute. there are a lot, there are a lot more efforts, than just the core, main,mastered on all the mastodon instances that have,been around since, gosh, like 2016.

[00:03:40] Jason Tucker: we were asking Js.

[00:03:43] see Mastodon and the thing that, underpins it and a lot of the other stuff in the Fed averse is, all tracks back to this protocol, called Activity Pub that sprung out of, G N U Social, and it was the main protocol, the main way of communicating, actions and intents with, other servers.

[00:04:06] Jason Cosper: So basically saying Hey, I have posted a post if you wish to ingest this post, here’s how to get it. And then, like broadcasting this stuff out to all of these other,federated instances. it’s a wild, weird thing. A lot of people are trying to like, pin.

[00:04:25] To, to Twitter and to how,cause I, I was an early signup on Twitter of 2006 or something like that. I’ve been using it for. way too long. I don’t use it very much anymore. just go, check in, see if I’ve had any, mentions or direct messages, like once or twice a week.

[00:04:47] And then we’ll follow up with folks. But, don’t really actively post to it, but a lot of people are pinning, mastered on to, oh, this is the next Twitter. But it actually is like so much more than that. because, the thing about, Mastodon and the larger fe averse, there are, applications out there Pixel fet, that’s an Instagram ish photo, related social network.

[00:05:13] but the wild thing is because, both of those things speak activity pub, a post that happens, on a pixel fed server, you can follow that user on. your Mastodon server on your, pama, which is another thing that also, works much like Mastodon does. Like a micro blogging sort of service, toay.

[00:05:37] another one, that you know, also does like very similar. mastodon like things, but they just all have their own different ideas, about, how the implementation should work, how, the user interface should look, things like that. but you could never follow an Instagram user on Twitter.

[00:05:58] Jason Cosper: You could never, turn around and follow. somebody from, yeah, I, I use this thing called bookworm that’s like a Good Reads alternative, that also is compatible, with the wider fed averse. And, if you wanted, you could go follow, like my reading activity, reviews about books.

[00:06:20] Like I, I don’t really review things very much, but. Hey, we gotta say,

[00:06:26] Jason Tucker: Speaking of Bookworms

[00:06:29] Jason Cosper: yeah.

[00:06:32] Jason Tucker: we only had to say it three times, and then she appeared.

[00:06:37] Jason Cosper: Yeah. but it’s just wild to think like you, you can’t follow,a good reads profile from Twitter, from Instagram or anything like that. But thanks to Activity Pub, thanks to the way that these things tie together, you can, you don’t have to be on all of these other social networks to follow.

[00:06:56] a particular thing. and the interesting thing is because this is all open, because this all, works, together, you can tie this in with WordPress as well, and you can follow,blog posts for a blog, without necessarily, I know that there are people. we’ll post oh, check out my new post on my blog.

[00:07:20] that’s like an auto update that might get posted, with WordPress, like you actually follow the WordPress blog much like you would like an r s feed or whatever in your Mastodon account, in your, whatever you’re using on the metaverse, and a new post happens and it just pops up in your feed. or you can, depending on how things are configured,you can click through to the link. But, if all of a sudden, Tucker starts, posting,20 posts a day and you’re like, oh man, this is just way too much for me. You can like. Either mute that for a little bit, whatever, and still get Tucker’s updates because he’s posting, his updates on for Mastodon, cuz he’s posting on his Mastodon account here.

[00:08:05] Jason Cosper: You don’t have to necessarily like,just turn the Tucker spigot off completely. You can just say okay, let’s tamp it back here. I don’t need to see his blog post. for a little while. and, the nice thing is in Mastodon there’s like mute controls where you can set like, eh, mute indefinitely.

[00:08:22] That, that might be a little harsh, but I don’t wanna see any updates about this for the next week or so. And, maybe the, the woodworking project that, Jason’s working on,has died down a little bit. We stopped talking about books. So say it left.

[00:08:39] Jason Tucker: Yeah, no, I, so the i, the main idea here is that because this protocol exists of Activity Pub, we’re able to have this inner system communication through the fed averse. Being able to allow for a photo to show up from pixeled, a video to show up from Pier Tube, a post from whatever. As long as you’re following them with the correct, name, then you’re actually getting that content from that particular destination.

[00:09:12] Jason Cosper: Yeah,

[00:09:12] Jason Tucker: Yep. That’s cool. That’s cool. So how does the WordPress side of it tie into it? what do you do to make that part?

[00:09:20] see, it’s funny that you’re asking, cuz I know you already know the answer because you’ve been working on integrating this stuff over

[00:09:26] Jason Tucker: not very well is what my current answer would be.

[00:09:29] you have been integrating it to the best of your abilities, especially since there are some concerns with how, like when you place particular traffic behind CloudFlare specifically,some of the way that they cash things and the. That, like web finger and a few other things, that, the Fed averse and Activity P lies on.

[00:09:52] it doesn’t like that some of these requests are being cashed and some of these requests are returning as H T M L instead of j s o as it’s, it is expecting, and it makes things a little messy. This is one of the reasons, and I’ve said this before,I don’t like putting so much of the internet behind CloudFlare.

[00:10:10] we, we don’t have to necessarily get into that, but, I’ve shared in, our private chat, Tucker, three plugins that,seem to be, the stack. For, getting, like fed averse or, mastodon like integration, set for your site, which is, Mathias, activity plug plugin. which actually you were saying Jason just got a recent update right?

[00:10:38] Jason Tucker: where you can actually mention someone in, in the post and then when it will actually go and link over to them and it will notify them that they’ve been mentioned using web mentions, which is pretty, pretty handy.

[00:10:53] Jason Cosper: Yeah. And,it’s very cool because, effectively, you can, publish updates from your site and it works almost similarly to,it’s a broadcast channel, but you are sending out updates to folks. and,if you do mention them, if you’re talking about,something that they’re working on, you can actually use, their handle on whatever service they’re using.

[00:11:21] masol, peer tube, whatever. and, like you can say, I was watching this at WPwatercooler, whatever we are at, peer tube, video, and. At Jason Tucker at Simeon Rodeo, your Mastodon handle, was saying this thing, and, at, say, Reed at Mastodon social, disagreed and said this instead, et cetera.

[00:11:50] Jason Cosper: So it’s one of these things where, and all of those channel. Can and will get pinged. it’s one of these like very, cool, very I have long been saying that, I want, the internet and I want WordPress specifically to be a little bit more weird, a little bit more experimental.

[00:12:09] and this is, weird and experimental and,it just brings a lot of this, spirit of like early web logging, early, just sharing things that you’re building on the internet, like back to the internet. And to me it’s just really exciting.

[00:12:29] Jason Tucker: Yeah, there’s like ping backs and track backs of now you know, the idea that you’re able to. essentially ping somebody that way and have them be notified this, these are technologies that existed in WordPress. It’s just the more modern day version of it, which I’m hoping becomes even a more modern day version of it as we start getting further along into how we, integrate activity pub with, all these other, web mentions and all these other types of technologies that are being built out for it. Okay, so we had Activity pub. that’s your first plugin. That’s the one. You should definitely get that installed and set up.

[00:13:03] that’s the one that basically says, Hey,I speak to the Fed averse. I, I. can it, it basically is, like sticking the Babel fish in the air and hitchhiker’s guide and saying okay, I now speak this protocol. There are things, I, anything I say can now be digested by anything else that speaks activity Pub

[00:13:25] Jason Tucker: So would you mention web finger first or note info first as the

[00:13:30] note, info.

[00:13:31] Jason Tucker: yeah. So

[00:13:33] Jason Cosper: info. this is, and you might, another one, by Mathias, who has really, laid a lot of the groundwork for,how all of these things tie together. I could read the description here, but, it’s to, and we are on dev branch, but to like the non-technical, it’s a little impenetrable, but.

[00:13:55] Note info parentheses two is, basically a plugin that helps expose, your server information. so it says, here’s what I am like, here’s,the site that I am, here’s what I can connect to, and here are the protocols that I speak effectively. , you install Activity pub and it’s,you’re like, okay, you can speak this now.

[00:14:21] Note info is like connects and goes, here’s what I can speak here. Is it broadcasts out, okay. if someone decides to like, look at your site and try to ingest content from your site, it goes, oh yeah, like you’re looking for something that can speak activity Pub. what, like in Jurassic Park?

[00:14:40] Oh, this is Unix. I know Unix, you know this is Activity Pub. Oh yeah, I know. Activity Pub.

[00:14:46] Jason Tucker: Yeah. Speaking of Unix, then you get into webbing, which It’s a whole extra piece there where you’re essentially getting the information of where it is that you’re able to be interacted with. Isn’t that it? It’s how like finger of your on a Unix box would present itself as, here’s all the different places that I can be connected with and what information I’m able to provide, right?

[00:15:17] it is. , despite being a finger, it is like being named finger. It. It’s, more like a bullhorn. It’s just Hey, I am here. it is, it announces your site to the wider, like fe averse. and this is mainly helpful for, when, say you are on Mastodon and someone wants to follow your site.

[00:15:41] Jason Cosper: Like what is, what’s the, username, Tucker of the WPwatercooler site on the

[00:15:47] Jason Tucker: WPwatercooler at WPwatercooler dot or, yeah,

[00:15:52] Jason Cosper: Okay. But the second somebody hits that at WPwatercooler, if they just hit that they don’t know where else to go.

[00:16:01] Jason Tucker: right.

[00:16:03] Jason Cosper: Web finger helps as long as the server is aware of it, to say, Hey, there is an at WPwatercooler account here that you might be interested in.

[00:16:16] Jason Tucker: Yeah. It’s using the author URL to determine what,what it is that, that particular user has. So I have a user for w WPwatercooler and I have a user for dev branch. And those two. Have dev branch WPwatercooler dot com and WPwatercooler at WPwatercooler dot com and whenever those authors post something, supposedly this hasn’t happened yet.

[00:16:40] Cuz I have 20 layers of cashing that I have to work through. will allow for it to say, I have a new post that just came out. Here it is. And then if somebody’s following that account, they’ll be notified that, a new post has been made.

[00:16:53] Jason Cosper: Yep.

[00:16:53] Jason Tucker: It’s a little bit different than having an account that you’re posting.

[00:16:57] And then you can customize everything. This is a different way of managing that. And, I like to explore things just like most, geeky folks do. So that’s where, we’re working through that to figure it out.

[00:17:08] yeah, you’re talking to somebody who, for, a while, because I heard that Nas did, it was, and maybe Mark Jacob did it. I was running my site, my WordPress sites on trunk. so every time that there was, a new release of WordPress, I would update nightly. . and it is, as somebody who did that and now no longer does that, it’s an absolutely psychotic thing to do.

[00:17:32] but, you very much,it, we, you and I both have the tendency to, to

[00:17:40] Jason Cosper: try to play with the, yeah. to break things, to play with the, the cutting edge, stuff. Definitely. Courtney has put me on the spot with the post formats. Damn. yeah.

[00:17:52] if you posted an image as a post format, You could have it go to pixeled, like if you, if the, all the plumbing was credited correctly.

[00:18:00] Jason Cosper: Yes, absolutely. there is a full, thing, called Posse, which is, what was it? published once, syndicate Everywhere effectively. and, it’s an indie web, thing where effectively, and the idea is at least until,Twitter shuts off their API access next week. rest in peace, Twitter free Twitter api.

[00:18:25] but that effectively you could publish once on your site and then syndicate out to all of your different social networks. if you had a post format that was, basically the classic, and this. Probably getting into things for the old heads. I bet Courtney and Otto both know, what’s up?

[00:18:44] probably Rochelle in the chat too, like asides, if you have an aside and WordPress, that is effectively a status update. There’s no title, there’s no anything else. It’s, you’re putting out a short little post. so you could use the post format of aside to broadcast out to, no longer Twitter, to something like mastodons something or even using activity pub just from, your server.

[00:19:13] Jason Cosper: It doesn’t necessarily need to go. To,to Mastodon. It doesn’t need to be broadcast out to Pixel Fed if it’s an image post or anything like that. but I, I see, especially since, all. Mastodon is all of these other things are, is they are federated, micro blogging. they are, effectively,one of the things that when everybody started making the push towards Mastodon, back in November.

[00:19:44] there are people who have been there. I think I’ve been there since, like late 2016, early 2017. I had an account on Mastodon social, initially, but when I was, had initially, signed up for this. I was like, oh, this is cool. it’s like Twitter, but everyone there, was more about instead of promoting.

[00:20:08] the hustle for their,oh, I’ve, I just did this new blog post, oh. come check out my Twitch stream. Oh,use this referral link to sign up for, this managed WordPress host or whatever. it’s not about that. It mastered on, it still isn’t. There are people who are trying to drag that culture over to Mastodon and I hope it doesn’t stick.

[00:20:28] but. The people, there were really just about sharing the thing that they were working on, sharing the thing that they were building. And I think that’s really beautiful. and it’s refreshing and I don’t, I can’t speak for you Tucker, but that’s one of the things that’s kept me using Mastodon is that.

[00:20:47] Jason Tucker: People are more just here’s this weird thing that I’m interested in. and it may not even be weird. It’s like here’s this perfectly, totally normal thing that I’m interested in, but I’m really fucking passionate about it. I also wish that at some point here, we stop talking about Mastodon on Mastodon, and we actually start talking about the things that we’re doing instead of Mastodon. You know what I mean? We’re like,we’ve gotten to the point where we can just talk about the stuff that’s happening and not have to worry about the plumbing behind it to do all that stuff.

[00:21:15] I did wanna give a shout to one particular plugin that I’ve been playing around with, which is, friends

[00:21:21] is a plugin from Alex Kirk that lets you subscribe to other people’s blogs. On your site and if they’re running friends with Activity pub and all those fun things, it allows for you to leave comments vice versa.

[00:21:38] So you can actually see what’s going on between each other’s sites. And you can follow someone that’s on Mastodon on your site and also be able to follow someone else’s, website on your site. And you’ll be able to see in one shot exactly like what’s going on everyone’s. It’s, it has a bunch of really interesting features to it.

[00:22:00] for instance, just being able to like, put in their feed, and then how you want to consume it and then how you wanna be able to display it. And if you wanted to, add any mar remarks or anything regarding it, it will, let you look at all of those different, sites that are out there and being able to,see what your friends are.

[00:22:17] Jason Cosper: Yeah. And something I also want to mention, I’ll make sure it makes it into the show notes. Courtney had asked if, the W P N Y C meetup, full session is available on YouTube. I think it’s available on YouTube. I know for sure, and I’ll make sure that it makes it into the show notes that it is available on archive.

[00:22:36] Do. one of the attendees, like recaptured, the zoom session we were doing, and made sure to stream it out,live, stream it out to a bunch of different places. And one of those places is And, my slides are also available there. you can Browse the, the discussion and, catch a lot of those questions.

[00:22:58] I think the last like half hour or so of the meeting, like we, we turn the stream off and we’re just like generally,talking and stuff like that, but, damn near the whole meeting is there. if you want to get into this a little bit more, if you wanna, look at my slides and everything else, that is the place to, to go.

[00:23:18] Find that,

[00:23:19] Jason Tucker: Perfect

[00:23:22] Jason Cosper: but yeah. and one of the things that I struck on, with this, I know I see, Andy Frain in the chat. I see, I see Courtney in the chat and I feel like I’m on,what is that? anyway,the magic mirror on the wall. Oh, I see. So and and.

[00:23:37] but I know that, everyone here,Tucker and I are using, my Mastodon server.

[00:23:43] I know Courtney uses what Fosson, dot org’s, server, all of these. One of the powerful things I think about Mastodon is the servers. Are, all of they kind of form communities. this is something that you miss, like being on a larger server like Mastodon, social, is, effectively Y because there are so many users there. I think they’re just shy of a million users over on Mastodon social. and I think on, the little server that I’m running just for some, some friends,I don’t think we have more than like 12 people. And,some of the people, they’re still holdouts on Twitter and I just gave them a place to escape to when it’s finally time for them to jump ship.

[00:24:29] But there are communities that only have a hundred people. I’m thinking of, Darius’s, And, like xo, for the XO conference, that happens up in Portland every few years. there, there are these cohorts of people that all Communities that form,, which is mainly,a bunch of ethical,some unethical, but hackers, no, no real jerks.

[00:25:00] I, I love,like watching, and one of the cool things about Mastermind is you can look at like a local timeline of what’s going on the server, and just seeing like what the people there are up to, and you get these. communities of people where you can go browse and cherry pick the things that they’re looking at, the things that they’re working on.

[00:25:20] the stuff that they decide to share. and was it, is it ice cubes, Tucker that has the, the local timeline? V you can

[00:25:29] Jason Tucker: Yeah, ice cubes has it.

[00:25:30] Jason Cosper: Yeah, ice cubes, if you’re on iOS, is a very cool app that allows you to, subscribe to like local timelines of other servers that you’re not on. so like I have, there’s a few word press related.

[00:25:45] Like WP Tuts social. I know WP Builds also has one. and, I follow their local timelines. I use the Ivory Mastodon app, but,I have ice cubes installed on my phone just so I can go browse the local timelines of these other, instances and all fave and bookmarks and posts.

[00:26:04] Jason Cosper: I don’t necessarily have to. , have all these people in my timeline, but I can dip my toe into those streams. And I think that’s the really powerful thing about Mastodon is when you start getting, these communities of people, that start collecting and start, all following a similar vibe and really.

[00:26:24] it’s like these little islands that are, you paddle your boat over to another island, see what’s going on over there. and I don’t know, man. I just think it’s really cool.

[00:26:36] we’ll get some stuff in the show notes, what Cosper is talking about with some of the links that we’ve been discussing. I went over and looked on, the Fed verse here real quick over on t l and we’re actually streaming over there live, which is fun.

[00:26:49] Jason Tucker: So you can actually see us like, Shows up right over there. So that’s been a lot of fun over,seeing how that works. so yeah, play around with this stuff. If you have stuff, if you have a place that you’re trying to, put things, try the, the Fed way of doing it and seeing if it works well for you.

[00:27:05] And, I think that’s about it. I wanna say, thanks for hanging out with me, Ko, as always.

[00:27:10] Jason Cosper: Yeah, of course.

[00:27:11] Happy to do.

[00:27:12] Jason Tucker: in the chat, thanks for hanging out as well. Hit the share button. We’d appreciate it. We’d love for people to, find our stuff and, be able to,get involved in our live shows as well as the stuff that we put,online after.

[00:27:23] So here’s our outro. Thanks speaking with number two, apple Podcasts, Google Podcast, all the places you can find podcast. And, subscribe to us over there if you wanna listen to us in audio and not watch us in video. we have most of those links over at WPwatercooler dot com slash subscribe. Have a good one.

[00:27:43] Talk to you later. Happy Friday.

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