Twitter, once the center of a certain kind of public-facing science community, is looking less and less like it will continue to be a viable platform for reaching the rest of the world. I’ve kept the Molecular Ecologist account in place even as I’ve abandoned the bird site myself, but it’s just auto-tweeting posts into an increasingly unstable network whose owner has no interest in identifying trustworthy sources, much less moderating out overt propaganda, misinformation of all sorts, or even hate speech. It’s really past time to figure out a post-Twitter social solution for The Molecular Ecologist.
In the wake of Twitter’s change in ownership last year, I’ve set up shop on the community-supported ecoevo.social, which is part of the “Fediverse”, a decentralized network of sites that are “federated” to exchange posts and interact with each other much like you would within Twitter, using a protocol called ActivityPub. I think of this as a social network that runs more like WordPress, the software that undergirds this very blog, than Twitter or Facebook or Instagram or other centralized social sites. Just as I rent space on a hosting site’s servers to maintain an installation of WordPress that provides all the functions of The Molecular Ecologist, ecoevo.social is an “instance” of the ActivityPub-compatible interface called Mastodon running on a bit of rented server capacity.
So I’ve finally set up TME with an account on genomic.social, the instance that seems like the best fit for our particular use-case (genetics-oriented, representing a blog affiliated with journals managed by a for-profit publisher). You can now follow @email@example.com to get updates as they’re posted to the blog — and you should find this post as the very first update on that account.