Category: general

Why it’s time to leave Twitter and move to the Fediverse

Elon Musk seems to be a bull in a china shop with his heavy-handed treatment of Twitter. Reflecting on the situation I have had an awakening of sorts – remembering my early Twitter follows like Aral who stands up for data-independence and privacy.

Why should a money-losing massive single entity have a de facto monopoly on short message / microblogging service? Especially now that we may all have serious doubts about governance there.

I realise how much more reliant so many people, institutions and brands are on social media now. They don’t need to all be on a few key platforms (Twitter, Meta, LinkedIn…), but it suits them as they all vie for our attention in a few places. The early web wasn’t built on platforms. It was built on protocols – agreements as to how data could be exchanged via certain ways of formatting messages and exchanges between multiple small sites. I love the openness of the early web that brought us to where we are today. The foundations of everything are those open protocols: email, DNS, websites, etc.

For microblogging services we can exchange in similar ways via a distributed system. That is precisely what the Fediverse is. A collection of protocols to federate messaging, just like the original Internet. It’s been around for a long time. 

Twitter has gone crazy. It’s now overtly super-capitalist. Elon is making massive changes because the company is losing money. Precisely because Twitter has become the de facto platform – not protocol – for exchanging short messages among groups of like-minded people, and it’s free (so everyone goes there).

The cost of moving

I’m a big fan of a corner of Twitter where fans of the cue sport that is snooker hang out. Mutual follows and hashtag discovery have created a close group of fans. It’s cool that you can also connect to the players, referees and TV commentators. 

But I’m currently trying to move over to an open community.  There are a number of advantages. We can ban trolls, community wide. We won’t have an algorithm pushing adverts and “sponsored content”. We can push our own trending hashtags. We can control what we see in our local and federated timelines. We can be more inclusive. Imagine:

You’re not the product anymore. You’re a community member in your host’s ad-free server they pay for. There’s no venture capitalist payday coming for them. Everything you do here costs your host a little bit of money. Find out how you can chip in.

The downside is that it has to be on a private server (where someone is paying the hosting), or a paid-for service. Some people currently on Twitter aren’t available on Mastodon or other Fediverse sytems – yet. Perhaps that doesn’t matter so much once you start finding a community away from a platform that is pushing you shit you don’t want, because you use their service for free.

Some places are offering free accounts (as noted in the quote), though this may not be the best way to have a lasting presence. Taking control by paying a small subscription is a low price to pay for big freedom. 

Luckily I have a history of Linux server administration so I fired up a server in the cloud. I’ll shortly be writing about how I did this, on a server that costs around 10€ a month.

OK, I’m in!

Are you ready to jump in? Here are some tips from

Ten Tiny Mastodon Newbie Cultural Tips 🐘:

In random order 👇

  • Add Alt-Text to your pictures! It’s the norm here. 
  • Use Content Warnings (CW) generously.
  • BE KIND 💚 
  • Respect the work that your instance’s admin(s) do for you. Support them financially if you can, this is volunteer work there are no ads here.
  • Read the Code of Conduct and Server Rules for your instance. These are different between instances. You usually can find this information by adding “/about” or “/about/more” after your instance’s website address (which is the same as your instance’s name).
  • Do exchange genuinely with people. Interact!
  • Add genuine info to your profile’s bio.
  • It’s not the best to only use your account here to automatically forward all of your tweets without ever interacting. We are here to be here. This is not an advertising platform, and people might unfollow or mute you for this.
  • Many features that are not like on Twitter have been left out deliberately for a good reason. Respect that. Listen to the Mastodon elders.
  • This is NOT Twitter. It is MUCH better! 🐘✨


Handy Links

If you’re a snooker fan, you can request an account here: or if you don’t like snooker there’s a big list on

A useful user guide for getting to know the basics: 

Going Solo as a UX Strategy Consultant


After 12+ years working on permanent contracts for major brands in travel, eCommerce and insurance, I have finally decided to create my own company and start consulting.

I believe we are now firmly in the post-digital era, where products and brands will be defined by the experience they give to their users rather than their feature set as such. Online digital experiences in particular, being intangible and easily copiable, will be remembered not for what they do but how they make us feel.

My areas of expertise are:

  • Managing UX and design projects and strategy
  • Creating, reinforcing and running UX and product teams
  • UX and eCommerce training and/or coaching
  • Conversion rate optimisation via data driven approaches (quantitative and qualitative)

I am part of the Zooka network should you need additional resource and expertise on SEO, CRO and project delivery.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with me via LinkedIn or Twitter, or by commenting here.

The Facebook Walled Garden?

Is anyone else concerned that the Internet is becoming a walled garden on Facebook, encouraging people never to leave the facebook site? People are more likely to read the Guardian now it’s a Facebook app. No doubt this is due to having to install the app to read content “read” by others – frictionless sharing as they call it. It means a lot more traction gained for Facebook, and a less neutral web experience.

Net neutrality is already wishful thinking, now that Google & Facebook dominate so much – do you even have a separate Instant Messaging / email app outside of Outlook at work? Are you aware that most of what you listen to and read will be shared automatically with your friends?

‎”As well as increasing traffic, the app is making our journalism visible to new audiences. Over half of the app’s users are 24 and under – traditionally a very hard-to-reach demographic for news organisations. The Facebook app is one of a number of successful launches by the Guardian in recent months as our ‘digital first’ strategy gains momentum. We’re delighted with the results.”
Andrew Miller, chief executive officer of Guardian Media Group

I must be an old grumpy git, since being on Facebook is frighteningly efficient at appealing to the younger demographic. I do get nostalgic about plain-text email with properly nested quoting wrapping at 74 characters, web pages that are visible anywhere on any device, and music that comes from analogue encoding on physical objects. Will appealing to the younger net users without embedding your content on Facebook be possible soon?

Happy New Year too!

Together for Ten Years

Five years ago, I published an article for our fifth wedding anniversary. So if I have got my head on straight, that makes it our tin – 10 years – anniversary today.

How time flies. When we first got married our wedding site had a guestbook I cooked up in PHP. Five years on, a blog post was where a few friends gave their comments. Ten years on, and it’s Facebook where all the reactions have come from. So from DIY PHP/MySQL to WordPress (also PHP/MySQL) to Facebook (PHP too) things keep on changing.

Here’s to ten more! No doubt the next anniversary post will happen somewhere else entirely. Any predictions?

Sketch Notes on Design / UX

I love the series of sketch notes from Eva-Lotta Lamm, someone who attends a lot of conferences and makes notes with amazing visual impact.

I could have chosen one of many different images that she has uploaded, but this one is recent, colourful and contains perhaps a few things that are less technical – though you probably need to work in a company with an active website to really “get” the overall message. I’d love to know if you get anything out of reading them if you’re completely outside of web marketing / user experience / web project management.

They’re available as a book and there is a fantastic presentation on how sketch notes work

Do you sketch in meetings while taking notes? Did you realise that it’s a good thing to maintain your attention span? Or that it helps you to memorise what you hear?

User centred Design at XING @ UX Camp Europe
Originally uploaded by evalottchen

French Country Dancing

On the 1st of May (or the Sunday close to it usually) Argenteuil closes a stretch of road near the Seine and they remember the pre-war (pre WWI) era with old style dress, dances and activities. Argenteuil has a fine artistic history. Impressionists like Manet, Monet, Caillebotte, Sisley, Seurat and Braque (born there) all spent time there at one point or another. Flâneurs from Paris would catch a train to Argenteuil on Sunday to be in the “countryside” and wander by the Seine.

I think I’ve been every other year – on average – that I’ve lived in Argenteuil. A lot of people play the game and dress up for the occasion. There’s usually some jazz / musette playing live, dancing, traditional street food as well as typical international fare (beer, chips and BBQ sausages). It’s a shame that the very road they close for the occasion is the road that stops most people from being able to venture down onto the banks of the Seine. You can get there, but you have to go up on the bridge, down a set of stairs, and then walk over the grass verge with cars going past at 90 km/h (56 mph). There’s only a section – as far as I can tell – of grass and trees wide enough to get you far enough from the traffic to appreciate the river.

French Country Dancing
Originally uploaded by simon_music

3 Parisian Things

Sacré Coeur

The church (Basilique, in fact) of the Sacré Coeur in Montmartre. It’s quite a climb through streets aptly named things like Rue du Calvaire, roughly translated as “time of hardship street” in common parlance.

You can get a cog-wheeled railway which mounts a steep incline instead, called the funiculaire. Recommended if you want a bit of energy to check out the nearby square where artists paint caricatures or portraits and coffee is ridiculously expensive.

Maybe check out the Espace Dali if you’re into a small, hidden away museum with all things Dali. Continue reading

Improving Ways to Read While Writing

flickr typewriter typo?!

I have been doing a bit of writing lately, and might even get an article or two published in an online technical publication. Which led me to thinking about the separation between technical stuff I write, often close to my profession, and the more personal items I write at other times. There are bits of photography and music in here too.

Many successful blogs stick to one subject, and treat it well. Some bloggers who want to scratch several itches therefore launch several blogs. I’ve always preferred one place to do everything, especially given that I don’t create anything like a useful volume of work to really get a following going anywhere in a given niche subject. I quite like the notion of an eclectic mix, and that has been my sub-heading ever since this blog was launched.

Continue reading