Thought Feeder cover photo for Episode 50. Returning Guest, Andrew Cassel’s headshot is featured in a square image. White text reads “Into the Fediverse: Mastodon for Higher Ed with Andrew Cassel.”

Episode 50: Into the Fediverse: Mastodon for Higher Ed with Andrew Cassel

Thought Feeder
Thought Feeder
Episode 50: Into the Fediverse: Mastodon for Higher Ed with Andrew Cassel
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At first they were afraid, of the Fediverse. Kept thinking they could never live without that blue bird near. But then they listened to this episode on why Mastodon is great, for Higher Ed, with returning guest, Andrew Cassel!

Joel Goodman: From Bravery Media, this is Thought Feeder. My name is Joel Goodman. With me, as always, is the dirigible, Jon-Stephen Stansel, can we use that as an adjective?

Jon-Stephen Stansel: Dirigible? That’s a noun!

Joel Goodman: It’s a noun… LOL.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: Are you calling me a blimp, Joel?

Joel Goodman: Well, just that you float. You know, I don’t know.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: It’s a type of blimp!

Joel Goodman: No, it’s fine, but with me, yeah, is Jon-Stephen Stansel, and if he’s not floating now, maybe he will be later.

I hope. And we’re very, very excited to have our friend Andrew Cassel, back on the show last time we talked about Twitch. And you know, Andrew, the thing may, well, I don’t know. Maybe not the, maybe not the one thing I appreciate most about you, but one thing that I do appreciate about you is that you’re always out there on like the frontier edges of what we’re doing with community building and social media and, and, you know, whatever social media’s gonna morph into in the future.

And it’s always a joy to have you on the show and, and always a joy to talk with you, even if you’re not on the show. So, thanks for being here.

Andrew Cassel: It’s my pleasure. Thank you so much for including me in your program.

Joel Goodman: Definitely we are gonna talk about, well, I think probably a lot of the conversations gonna focus around Mastodon, but, you know, in our way of being timely with world events and topics happening, we wanted to focus this episode around the turmoil happening on Twitter as a platform.

And, maybe like scope it just in general to the landscape of all of the various platforms that higher ed has accumulated over the years, and how effective we are. But, maybe, you know, I don’t think we’re gonna necessarily solve a lot of things in this conversation, but hopefully get folks thinking about what the future could look like and where we can go.

So yeah, let’s Andrew, give us like a short rundown of your reaction, I guess to everything that’s been happening in the world of what would’ve been called short-form blogging back when Twitter first launched.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: Micro Blogging.

Joel Goodman: Micro blogging. That’s right. It was micro cause I think Tumblr was actually short form, wasn’t it? Twitter was the super, super smaller one.

Andrew Cassel: Are we gonna start to talk about Tumblr? That’s exciting. I mean, I’ve had Tumblr for about 11 years now. I love Tumblr. Dusted it off again in the past. Anyway, you asked about the bird site as we on Mastodon call it . So in October as Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter was happening, as he walked into that building while carrying that sink,

Asking us to let it sink in, I was able to talk with a researcher who works at the Middlebury Institute. I work at Middlebury College, has many connections throughout the world in global affairs, and this is a researcher who studies radicalization, online accelerationists, all that sort of stuff that we’ve heard so much more about after the January 6th, committee was presenting their findings and having their hearings. And he was describing, that many people are really concerned about the re-platforming of voices on Twitter that Elon Musk promised to do. And we’ve seen that has happened where he is granted general amnesty to people who had been banned.

The former president has his voice back on that platform. Of course Ye. Or Yee has ups and downs. You know, who knows? He could bribe Elon to get back on there, but it was a red alarm, a red flag for me. When this researcher who spent so much time on Twitter said, I’m moving away from the platform. I’m gonna keep my account there.

I don’t want people to take my account over, but I’m gonna use other ways to share and connect and grow community. I was like, well, if this person who studies sort of how these platforms are used is changing, I should look into changing that as well. And I had conversations with my team about when are we gonna decide should we stay on Twitter?

And we sort of came up with this idea that if the former president does get re-platformed, that is a place that higher ed is no longer sort of friendly. It will rapidly become climate change deniers, vaccine deniers, misinformation spreaders, and we’ve seen that happening on the platform and we did not want our content, which has to be trusted, to be seen around and in the event that brand safety, I think is the sort of marketing term for the decisions that we were making about why or we would stay on this platform. So as time went on, I started looking at, , Mastodon as, , option for the Twitter work that I was doing and to really explore what is this platform all.

And you mentioned the other platforms that higher ed has accumulated over the years, and then maybe found success with or not paid attention to. And so as I first entered the Fediverse, which is the term, the genre for the federated servers like Star Trek, The Federation of Planets where each planet has its own government and culture, but this, there’s this collaboration and cooperation and self defense that goes on.

You’ll come to the aid of your federated planet. That is a good metaphor for how the fediverse works. To sort of wrap your mind around what. Is the Fediverse, it’s like the federation and each server has its own identity and sort of community and vibe. And then they all work together to create this decentralized area.

So Joel, J.S., listeners out there, I’m gonna say something that is J.S. likes to get people riled up. I’m gonna give a hot take right now. We’ve become so lazy in the work that we do for higher. We have become mere organic components in the work of the algorithm, the AI and the machine learning models that drive those platforms.

At HighEdWeb earlier this year was in a session hosted by the amazing Josie Ahlquist, all about our feelings and vibes to make sure that we’re all doing okay and in that session, We were asked to say, what would we forgive ourselves for? What are we worried about? What? What can we let go? And a lot of people posted in this anonymous posting that they didn’t feel there was purpose in their work.

They didn’t know why they were doing it. What is the point of this work that we were doing? And I think that’s the feeling of what role do we play in the storytelling that we’re doing if we’re just shoveling content. Into the AI to put out there, then we are, our jobs are one step away from being automated.

The RSS can grab that news post, turn it into something, and then post on whatever platform that we wanna do. But when I started looking at how to work in the Fed averse to create community from nothing that did not have an algorithm associated with it, that I didn’t get those. Comforting metrics of impressions and reach that even if a piece of content didn’t get a like, or a comment or any sort of engagement, I could still look at it and be like, well, I reached 3000 people with that, knowing in my heart, that’s meaningless.

But the work of social networking, that developing a, a community, an identity on a server in the Fed averse was such a breath of fresh air for me, re-energized the stuff that I was doing. In my everyday efforts because now I had to really think about the hashtags that I was using because on Master Don service, that’s how you find other people, other content to share, other accounts to follow.

Joel Goodman: I’ve had that same. And so I mean, I created a Mastodon account years ago when, you know, it first kind of cropped up and then didn’t use it cuz like there it was, it was, I don’t know. I probably should have just tried it out. But I think like, Like you, Andrew, I have, I personally moved away and we’ve been talking at Bravery Media about what our role is on Twitter, if we have a role there.

Because you know, a lot like the brand safety stuff you’re talking about, we have a lot of those same feelings, like, do we want to be associated with those things? But for me, diving into Mastodon and me being a Twitter user since, you know, 2007 a a year approximately after they launched, when the algorithm that they had was very young and was not nearly as robust as what we’ve dealt with, you know, the, the last five years plus, , Macon has been a big change. Going back to that, thinking around hashtags and how do you, You, how do you get what you’re talking about? Heard. And it’s funny cuz if you think back to some of the conversations that have centered around the bird site in the last, you know, year or two, it’s, well hashtags, oh, J.S. has said this because it’s true.

Like, oh, hashtags don’t really do anything. Why are you putting a hashtag in your, in your tweet? Like, why are you making up a hash and like given like, yeah, probably. Same for making up whatever hashtag on ma on to some extent. But if you are doing that work of building a wider community and creating. , a, a set of common thought processes or beliefs or, you know, shared accountability around a certain topic that you want to have.

Like, cool, create your own hashtag, but also like link it up to other ones so that people will actually find that, you know, like use other hashtags. But it’s, I mean, I noticed just how much I, I don’t use hashtags anymore. On Twitter, you know, on Instagram, on any of the other platforms that, that I have been active on the last several years.

Whereas on ma on, you have to, otherwise it’s like, you know, the seven people that, , that are following you. I have a few more people following me than seven, but the seven people that are following you are the only ones that will see your, your posts and yeah, it’s, it’s just a, it’s an interesting paradigm shift from what we’re used.

Andrew Cassel: Joel, the thing that I’ve sort of, as I’ve been exploring how to get that content seen, that’s the, that’s the, it’s the, there is three layers of the feeds of, of Fediverse that have become fascinating to me how to navigate that. The home feed of people that I follow, the local feed of people on my server in my instance.

And then the federated feed of things that have grabbed the attention. Not quite an algorithm, but what people in my, home and my local feed have been engaging with to bring it over and still that sort of step. So you have your house. For your home feed, the local feed your neighborhood, and then like your county or your national region, which is the federated feed.

And so it is those concentric circles of content, like how do I get it to the next one and how do I get it to the next one? And then how do I explore that place to find things that I wanna boost

Jon-Stephen Stansel: There’s so much there, like, but let’s, let’s take a big step back

Joel Goodman: I was waiting for this.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: One of the biggest complaints I see about Mastodon is the learning curve to get on and get started and find communities and whatnot. So let’s step back to Mastodon 101, right? I’m a university social media manager, and I’m thinking about it. I’ve never touched Mastodon. What do I need to know right off the bat?

Andrew Cassel: The first thing you need to know right off the bat is this is not going to be easy. You’re gonna need to allocate time in your schedule. Little bit of time every single day to just get frustrated with it. Because as you said, it does have a learning curve. It is work you’re gonna be faced if you log on, you wanna find, you wanna start a MA on server for your institution, or you wanna, you wanna find one to be on.

So you search Mastodon and it says, okay, which instance do you wanna join? Which server do you want to join? And for this, the thought that I’ve had is lot like when you first log onto World War. And you’re asked, join a server, and they have all these weird names, like, I don’t know who Silvans is, or, you know, the Horde, you know, group, whatever.

And it’s like, does this matter? I just wanna play. I just wanna get online. I just wanna do this thing. So give yourself the grace to start an experimental account. Pick any general.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: They don’t have role play servers like World of Warcraft, do they?

Joel Goodman: Oh yeah, they do.

Andrew Cassel: They do.

Joel Goodman: But J.S. like, I think this is an important point because, I mean, this is, this is where my skepticism about where Macon’s going, and it may not skepticism. I think it’s more like a wait and see because I, I think it is a. It’s, it’s a, it’s an old way of thinking about social media, but one that we are so out of practice with that it’s kind of hard to, to wrap your brain around this again, like go back in time, you know.

But I think, you know, we struggled with this internally at bravery cuz when we were thinking about moving. Over to Mastodon’s, like, well, what do we do? Do we do? We start up our own server and we know people that have done that. Like, because it feels weird to me. It feels weird for a brand to be on Mastodon and Angie, I’m sure you have thoughts about this, but it feels weird to me for a brand to be on Macon for someone like me that works.

You know, like we’re more business to business. I working with universities, we’re not like marketing. We’re not working directly with prospective students or students of universities. We’re working with, you know, the, the marketing directors or VPs or, or presidents or whatever. , so like our, our actual audience is probably there, or at least is starting to be there.

But for, for other brands like. It is it, I feel like it hasn’t really hit critical mass yet where it makes sense to jump in. And to me and, and Andrew maybe you found places in on Ma on where this feels different, but like I think there’s a bit of an aversion to brands being within the Fed averse because Ma on has been sort of a reaction to the, you know, the over capitalization of the algorithms on social media.

And so it, it feels almost like it’s supposed to be counter marketing, , you know, or very anti-marketing within that space. And so, like, one, like how, like as a brand, how do you find a place where you’re gonna be welcome and how do you. I mean, do you like, I like, I, I almost think this goes back to when we all first joined Twitter as individuals and found our communities before there were a thousand brands creating, you know, weird, you know, weird voices, weird brand voices for themselves and being, you know, trying to be Wendy’s all the

Andrew Cassel: Don’t get J.S. started.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: I love Wendy’s.

Joel Goodman: Yeah. It’s, it’s everyone trying to be Wendy’s that’s the problem.

Andrew Cassel: Joel, you said a lot of things that I want to talk about, but I also wanna go back to jss thing about the 101. So you’re gonna, if you wanna start, start as your own self first, before you launch an account for the place where you work. You need to learn how it works for yourself. You need to sort of understand the culture, the community, just the layers of how it’s gonna go.

The only way to do that is to give yourself professional development time on your calendar. Book your calendar itself. If that’s a thing that works for you, block that time out. 30 minutes a day, an hour every week. You know, give yourself some time to really learn about it. Launch an account for yourself.

Pick whatever general instance that you want. You’ll start seeing how it all. You’ll see the names of other servers. They are connected as part of your URL and your account name. In there, you’ll find people that, oh, look at this stuff. When you see a server that interests you, that you’re curious about, you can visit that server.

You can already look at the local feed of what that server is like, so you can see. Content is this neighborhood all about? What are people putting in their yards? What flags are flying from their houses? What decorations do they have for the holidays out there? What do they believe in? Are there wild dogs running around the street, or is every house mowed and neat?

And nice. And you can wave to your neighbor. You can find that out a little bit just from visiting the local feed of any server. And then you can also visit the Federated feed that goes along with that server. So you might think the neighborhood is nice, but it feels a little sketchy if you visit the Federated feed for that server, you can see all like, oh, I really don’t wanna be in this place.

And one of the things that each server lists is you can block a whole. So you visit the place that is full of all of these voices, you don’t wanna be, you can find out, oh, this server is interesting. Are they allowing those voices to be seen and heard in this neighborhood? No. Great. So there’s much more control.

And the thing that I have said about Mastodon, as I’ve started to explore it and spend time there personally, it’s not who you follow, it’s who you block. You see a voice in your local feed. You don’t like it. There’s no culture of like, Ooh, they did something wrong at that first time you see it, you don’t like it, don’t give them another chance.

Create the home feed that you want. So 1 0 1, start a server. Start a an account on an instance that just is there. You don’t know why you can migrate later. So pick if you find a neighborhood you like, migrate your stuff over there. There are ways to bring all your followers with you. There’s sort of issues with content.

Doesn’t necessarily follow you over there. You can also create alias accounts, like, oh, I liked it here, but I have so many things over here. I’m gonna post on this one. It’s gonna show up in this other place. So for a 1 0 1, Of getting an introduction to yourself of Mastodon. Give yourself the grace of patience.

Realize it’s gonna be work. Take that professional development time that you might, it’s very, very precious time, but well worth spending because at the core of the work that we do in higher ed, creating communities, sharing the stories, and the success of our students and our faculty and our staff members, we want it to be in a place that’s full of respect, joy, and support.

Twitter is losing those elements even within your silo that you have on Twitter. Mastodon is all in The Fed. Averse is all about positivity. Accessibility is front and center in the Fed averse. When you post a piece of content on there, it automatically wants you to add alt text to your image. It sort of reminds you very harshly if you haven’t done.

And the culture of the Fed verse is also like, where is your alt text? Please include alt text. I’ve never seen on a social networking, a social network or social media site. The amount of people who are like, use Camel Case in your hashtags, please. This is what it looks like. So accessibility, welcomeness, and.

Is all about what I have found in the Fed averse. It takes time to learn. The 1 0 1 is have patience and grace. Do not expect it to be. Like any other social media platform that you have used, embrace its newness, embrace your own creativity and exploration and go for it. Joel, the things that you had just said, I didn’t make notes about it, but I’m gonna try to remember cuz one of the things that you talked about was there was an article in The Atlantic, it was either earlier this week or late last week, talking about how social media is coming to the.

And it never should have started, and it was this,

Joel Goodman: was, , that was an Ian Bogost, , article. Right. Man, I, I’m, I’m a bit, I’m a fanboy,

Andrew Cassel: hi, that piece is spot on and really reminded me of the difference between social media. And social networking and how much we have been doing social media as our brands, that we are out there being like we are publishers, we are media, cre, content creators. We are part of this performance culture, and that’s what feels so weird for us in higher ed because we can’t have that.

I am such a creator. I’m so brilliant. Look at all my stuff. Follow me. I’m trying to be an influencer in these spaces and the social media. And js, you have really embraced a media company that you work for. You get to share those stories. It’s natural for you to be on social media because media is what you do.

But for higher ed, we’re not a media producer. We are trying to say, look at this great information. If, if there’s any media that we’re trying to produce, it’s to talk about the great opportunities that await you at these places to come and study and learn from. Opportunity isn’t a product, it’s not a thing.

You can’t really sell it. I, I talk about that all of the time. But the other thing about brands being welcome in the Fed averse and Js, I wanna say this to you. I have totally reversed how I feel about Be real and brands being and be real in my Be Real feed. I had a couple of higher ed places that wanted to be my be real friend.

I was like, sure, let’s see what this

Joel Goodman: Oh, me too. Me too.

Andrew Cassel: And so I accepted them into my B real and when I see them in my B Real Friends feed, I just feel so icky. I just don’t like it. It’s a much different feeling than I’ve had with any other social network or social platform. I didn’t mind seeing that stuff on Instagram or on Twitter or on, or any of those other, even on Pinterest, things like that.

But for some reason in B real, so Js, you’re, you’re absolutely. It’s not a place for us, in my opinion right now, and I’ve told my team, at first, I was like, I’m gonna find some B ril ambassadors. We’re gonna be out there, it’s gonna be great. We’re gonna tell authentic stories. And then I saw them in my feet and I’m like, no, don’t want that anymore.

It’s the first time that I’ve had to step back from that. The fed averse is a different little feeling because if you can be. Authentic about the information that you are sharing in the communities where you share it. It can be welcome and can get boost. If you have researchers on your campus that are doing really interesting science, share that news release, share those fieldwork pictures, share those sense of place.

I agree. Not necessarily great marketing in the fed, averse information about what’s going on that contributes and enriches. A community that is something that I feel has value. And I did notice someone in one of the feeds that I’m exploring, someone said, it’s so great to see some national brands moving over here.

I wish my local brands would come over to create these local feeling of community. So as everything evolves, if you go there with the idea of, oh, I’m gonna show my Instagram takeover pictures here, I don’t think that’s gonna really vibe with the c.

Joel Goodman: So I almost feel like, Andrew, that this is a, well, it could be. There are a lot of caveats here, but I think there, this could be a way to correct the mistakes that we made in our learning how to social, , as brands on Twitter over the last decade, right? So like all the things that, you know, JS has, has, , very rightly pointed out as being not good practice for institutions on things like Twitter, maybe on Instagram, like it feels like.

Mastodon or, or at least federated, federated social media in general is a way for us to maybe take a step back from why are we just posting news stories? Why are we posting flyers? Why are we posting this stuff? And maybe move toward. The practices that we have on, you know, on visit days on campus or the practices that our actual, , admissions, , ambassadors or admissions counselors practice when they go out to fair and are talking to people one on one and sharing those as individuals versus just.

Broadcasting everything out. And, and I think that’s the, going back to that, that tension between social media and social networking, right? It’s that the broadcast medium of social media is very, very different from the trust building that happens when you have one to one. And what we’ve seen on Twitter is that the one, one-to-one connection that brands have is usually customer service.

It’s, it’s delta like coming back at me when I’ve complained about a delayed. And saying, Hey dms, and we’ll see what we can do. Like, okay, that’s cool, but how is that any different than me picking up a phone and talking to a customer service agent? It’s just an easier, it’s like chat, like, you know, and that’s not the same thing as social networking.

Andrew Cassel: You’re absolutely right, and JS has talked about that in his Red Stapler award-winning presentation. The the customer service aspects of social media. Seeing what your audience members want are creating on their own resharing, that this performing that they want to do for the creators of something that they love, that they’re fans of.

The Cosplays, the fan art, the All no one’s Cosplaying, Middlebury College. You know, wearing a sweatshirt is not cosplaying the institution. It’s showing brand affinity, which is very helpful.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: Sometime, let me tell you the story of when I ended up with the mascots account and ended up talking to a lot of furries.

Andrew Cassel: that’s a different, we’ll have a beer. We could talk about But Joel, I think you’re 100% absolutely correct and that is why this is such a paradigm shift for the work that we do for higher ed. It is like you are not doing the work that you think you are doing. If you are coming in there. I’m a content creator.

I’m gonna become an influencer. This is where I learned what social media is, and I’m gonna bring these skills over to tell the story of the place that I, maybe I went to school and now I just hired because, oh, you know, social media, you’ve been posting on Instagram for four years. Of course you’re gonna come over here in the market.

Office. Those people are probably very talented, really important voices to hear and can bring a lot to any team that they’re a part of. But the fractures that you’re talking about are becoming more and more apparent and something that we should embrace,

Jon-Stephen Stansel: where, where my, my concern is with like, not just ma it on with, with Hive and all of these other Twitter replacements, is that we. People are not jumping ship from Twitter and going to a single location. You know they are, some are going to Macon, some are staying on Twitter, some are spending more time on Instagram or even LinkedIn.

So our audiences are kind of dispersing, they’re fracturing and at in higher ed as a social media manager, there’s only so many hours in the day and so many places you can be and do well. Where should higher ed social media managers be spending their time? Is it, is it, I mean, you make a good case for Mastodon, but how can a social media man, higher ed, social media manager evaluate where they need to be in spending their time?

Andrew Cassel: Never before have we had a chance as social media, higher ed managers to say, I’m just gonna stop one and refocus on all the things I’m already doing. I’m gonna reclaim that time that I’ve been creating and scheduling content for this one social media platform and focusing on all the other things that I could be doing and saying, oh, we, we have our Twitter, we’re keeping it there.

But the, so I guess the answer js, the short answer is don’t start anything new. Just lean into what you’re already doing. And I wish I had more time to do this. I wish I had more time to make this picture pop a bit more, or I wish I had more time to spend on my YouTube channel that could always use attention.

So it’s instead of like, what can I do instead? You’ve already got, as you say, many other things that you’re trying to do already. Just do those things.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: I think that makes a good case for at least, and you used this phrase, I, I’ve been stealing it from you in your high ed web presentation where you’re talking about quitting Facebook. Instagram of, of quiet, quitting these platforms. Because you have to remember, I don’t think a institution can quit Twitter, cold Turkey, , to the bird app.

And there’s some, there’s a joke about birds in there somewhere. But, , because it is on all of those print materials and that stuff has a long, kind of half life. So I think you still have to keep that account open and fresh, but, Spending all hours and hours there. So if somebody does stumble upon it, it’s not just this zombie.

Andrew Cassel: I’ve dialed so far back in the stuff that I share on. That if someone goes there and say, when was the last time they posted? Oh, it was about the same time that Elon Musk took over. , I, it’s just, you’re right, it’s hard to go cold Turkey for anything that we have become dependent upon, but I think the only way to sort of think what would I do without it is to try, is to say, okay, this week I’m not gonna share on Twitter.

What does that look like? And what does that feel like? It’s so. I have the account, it’s still active. I don’t want anybody to take it. I don’t want someone to get the name of the college and then use it for bad, a bad purposes. So I go and I see, and I’m like, I, what’s happening here? Who’s this? And the other part about higher ed community for not resisting leaving Twitter is our faculty members.

Have devoted. If there was one social media platform that we knew faculty used, it’s that. Twitter because their, their peers were there. They’d go to a conference and they’d be in the back channel of that. They’d talk about their papers and their accomplishments and get people hired and find all that. So they really use it in a way they don’t use other platforms, and for them it’s really, really hard to face.

Maybe not being able to use it. , how do you quiet quit it? Is it one post a day rather than scheduling five posts a day? Is it? So those are all important conversations to have and quiet, quitting may be more comfort. Then going cold Turkey on the bird.

Joel Goodman: I found it. More existentially, difficult to quit the bird site than I did like Facebook and like I haven’t been on Facebook. I have, I have an account on Facebook, but I haven’t been active on Facebook in three or four years at this point. And I, I might dive in once a week if I remember to like, look at a group that I’m in, but I, it’s not top of mind.

And. Twitter was a lot harder because that, that was, that was my network, right? Like that was where I was at. But shifting a lot of that, I don’t, not even shifting all that effort. I mean, I’ve dialed back a lot on what I, what I personally post in general, but moving more towards LinkedIn for professional stuff, which, LinkedIn has problems, but they have a huge opportunity to fix a lot of those problems.

And I think even, I think those of us as people that are not even just like professional, like, like social media pros, but people that are, that have been on social media a long time and I guess are like. Personally pros, you know, at our own brands, like we actually have the opportunity to fix a lot of LinkedIn stuff by sharing more personal type of content that we might have other places.

And Macon has been a place where I’m not as active on there as I was on Twitter, but I have found more value in the conversations that I’ve had with people there than I have found on Twitter in a long, long.

Andrew Cassel: I believe we are in a room right now with someone who has been held up as one of the best creators on LinkedIn recently.

Joel Goodman: It’s definitely, definitely one of the most plagiarized

Jon-Stephen Stansel: Which is why I’m on LinkedIn.

Andrew Cassel: So I, I’ve also had a similar experience with LinkedIn, but JS probably has much more insight on developing a, a brand and an account and a personality on LinkedIn, , as an alternative to Twitter.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: I’m still playing with it and my, my rationale for getting on on it and spending more time, it was before Elon, was just the fact that I was getting plagiarized so much on LinkedIn that people were taking my tweets either. Screen capping them and not giving me credit for it, which, you know, whatever, my name’s still there.

Or just blatantly cutting and pasting and, and, and putting it on there. So I was like, well, you know what, I, I’m glad you like my, my post, but I want that sweet, sweet engagement all to myself. Right. You know, like I, I want those numbers. So I started copying and pasting my, my tweets onto to, to LinkedIn and

Andrew Cassel: LinkedIn was full of

Jon-Stephen Stansel: they were, they were taking, you know, content of mine and, and.

Andrew Cassel: it was

Jon-Stephen Stansel: Yeah, I know, I know. So I was like, I’m gonna start doing this. My, you know, putting my own stuff on there and, and reformatting my tweets using LinkedIn language. It a little bit more like, oh, are, are those, are, are those hard returns actually working? Is tacking all those hashtags at the end really helping.

So I’m, if you see me doing stuff on LinkedIn, a lot of times that you kind of cringe about, I’m just experimenting, but I like the platform. I think there is more opportunity for organic reach and engagement there, but my problem at personal use of it is it still doesn’t replace. Twitter as a place to stumble upon new people and new ideas.

And also share my human side too. Like along with my professional side on, on Twitter, I feel very comfortable. Like, okay, here’s three posts about social media management. Here’s a pick of my kid. I’m really excited about seeing the new, you know, star Wars movie. , you know, you can’t, you’re really kinda locked into tangentially workplace related on, on LinkedIn.

Joel Goodman: LinkedIn really like embodies that like performative thing that we were talking about earlier. Right? And it’s all like performing as a professional. Like, oh yes, I am business person that does business things and here are my business.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: I’m thinking about writing a post right now of, of just like inspirational quote, our story followed by professional looking photo of myself,

Andrew Cassel: Yes, . So

Jon-Stephen Stansel: And that, that being the post, you know, cause that’s, there’s so much of that because it feels weird. Like I wanna, I wanna fi figure out if like posting photos of yourself actually increases your reach, but I don’t really want to put this like lengthy, oh, here is my inspirational story and blah, blah, blah.

Cause it just feels like the punk rock kid inside of me just like, oh, it hurts.

Joel Goodman: I’m overjoyed to announce that I have decided that I am going to post this post with a great picture of me, and the last two years of not posting these photos have been amazing and I want to thank everyone on my team.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: But I think LinkedIn is moving away from that. And I think you are getting more human. People are like getting going. Yeah, that, that’s cringe. Let’s not do that.

Andrew Cassel: The LinkedIn, , as I was, I was in a conversation talking about LinkedIn and someone described it as an office party and I thought that felt spot on. Like you go to your office party, you’re wearing not office clothes, but it’s still your, all your office mates and you’ve gotta put on a different sort of attitude.

Yeah. Yeah. And you’re still yourself, you’re just a, you’ve code switched to be office self. And so LinkedIn is definitely code switching to be like, how can I still tell these things? And you’re absolutely right. Js, I’ve had that same feeling of, it’s not like, oh, here’s my cat. LinkedIn doesn’t care about my cat unless I run a veterinarian service.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: I think I might try a little bit about that, cuz that’s one thing I love about, about Twitter is like, You can follow your professional peers and learn. Who they are as people and not just resumes and like, I wanna see photos of your cat, Andrew. I don’t, I, you know, I love to hear about your work cuz one, you’re incredibly enthusiastic and it, it’s, it’s energizing to hear you talk about it, but also like, as a person, like, I want to hear about the, the, the plays that you’re in and I want to hear about.

You know, your cat and all that. The cool things I see you doing on, on what, what drinks you’re having. And Joel, I wanna see about your, your gin advent calendar and all these things that you can’t see on, on, on LinkedIn. And I think we lose something about that. And there’s that, that connection that even professional connections that you can make of like, one reason why I work in the entertainment industry now is because I tweeted about social media.

in addition to tweeting about comic books and nerdy stuff that, that I liked. And if I can’t do that on LinkedIn, I don’t think I would, I would be able to, to, to, people would see me and go, oh, okay. Oh, JS, he, he’s a social media manager and he likes comic books. Let’s hire him for this.

Andrew Cassel: That’s, you could, the Fed averse would love to see all those things. You can find me and see some of that content at, , AB Cassel, home.social, which is

Joel Goodman: Well, so, so I, that actually leads, leads us to something that I have been thinking about while we’ve been having this conversation, and it’s kind of like the practicalities of. Of federated, like, we’ll talk about Macedon cuz that’s like the prime example of federated social, social networking at this point.

But the, you know, you talk, you talked earlier, Andrew, about the, you know, like the neighborhood and like finding the server that’s like that. Like if we’re talking about, if we’re talking about say like, , , a university’s admissions office or, or, or a college’s admissions office wanting to move into federated social media like this.

What are the practicalities around that? Like there’s a part of me that thinks, and, and, and this is, we had this discussion internally at bravery when, when we were kind of mulling over what we were gonna do and where we were gonna focus more of our social time at. But the, there, there’s a part of me that thinks like you almost need to have two accounts.

And I don’t like this approach cause I think it’s wrong. , but it feels like one, I think a lot of times, at least to me, the servers feel like you’re kind of. You’re identifying as something very specific or something super general, right? And so, like I bake bread, , like a baking, a baking server would be awesome to be a part of.

But does that, do I want that to be my home based as a Macon user in the same way that would, , you know, , and at, you know, middlebury.edu server be like something that makes sense for. For your, for like, I guess like professional accounts, right? But like you don’t really wanna manage two different, I mean, I guess, I guess like social media managers do that right now, but if we’re talking about that way Yeah.

More than two, right? , but if we’re talking about this idea of. Of like Deemphasizing brand as a, as a profile and emphasizing brand through individual expression of it. So maybe it’s your admissions counselors have. A have a profile on your college or university server and they’re going out into the Fed averse to other places and talking about it.

How do we like, I don’t know, like this is just an idea and I don’t know that I like how it works and I don’t know that it’s the way that it should work. And I don’t know that we can answer that question either, but like, what do you do when, or I don’t know how. How should we go about thinking about this?

I don’t know that there’s an answer to it yet. I don’t know that you have an answer to it, Andrew.

Andrew Cassel: I’ll tell you the answer that I sort of came up with thinking about that, Joel, and it was one of the things that I sent this joke email to lighthearted, I should say, to, , Collaborator, coworker in the its department that was of the Master Don’s documentation thing about creating your own server. And so I sent him an email.

I was like, , I’m not really serious about this. But look, we could create our own federated server, , inside, , the Fed Traverse for a Masteron connection. And then as I spent more time on the platform, I realized that that was actually the best idea. And the possibilities of creating our own hosted server.

That is, you need to, there’s single sign on, you can, there’s all these things that you could get. You know, you’d have to apply to get in there, you have to have a verified email. So I think to answer your question in a very general idea, yes, institutions will have to create their own federated server. And as I was thinking about that idea, It became, I got so excited about it because we talk all the time.

How can we get our own, how can we break down silos? It’s one of the things that higher Ed has always struggled with. This puts everybody in one silo to communicate with each other. Everybody in that local feed will be from your place. And you can have, like you said, you can have a couple of counts and maybe you can start sharing some of those ideas and the things that are moving you and exciting you inside that place.

Suddenly you’re learning what faculty, like, what they’re doing outside the things that they wanna share. You’re seeing, you’re connecting with students, you’re connecting with staff members usually wouldn’t anybody who wants to use this place and getting anybody to use the social networking is already difficult.

I think it is that way. Create your own, because who do you join? Fortunately, as Middlebury, I was able to get an account on masteron.social, so it has that sort of, when I was talking to a coworker, he was like, well, we’re on the main one, and I was like, well, there really is no main one. But yeah, we’re on the main one.

I guess if you wanna think of it in that way,

Joel Goodman: the

Andrew Cassel: then it won’t look so silly. But if you are at. You know, yale@goofyservers.social, you don’t want that. That’s part of your brand safety. So there is a little bit of a, the, the fracturing I think is a good sort of theme for this conversation. Fracturing hurts.

It takes time to recover and time to heal. The places that we have been sharing and gotten used to and so comfortable and lazy, I’m gonna use that again cause I keep coming back to that. We’ve just become so lazy. This is like taken a sledgehammer to that and busted it up and now what do you do? I wanna clinging to what I knew before.

We can’t do that. As Jay has mentioned, I’m also a big fan of narrowing and your scope of what you’re sharing on Facebook and Instagram. Meta is a bad company for us. We don’t wanna be. Twitter is a bad place for our brands to be safe. With no covid misinformation messages that are going out now on Twitter, they actively are stopping that.

Do you want your health? Accounts to show up in a place where there is no trustworthiness. It’s going down all of the time. Brands are there, why they’re still there. It’s, it takes time to really figure out where you wanna be. You have to have those important discussions. There is no one to one change. You can’t just switch over to another place.

It takes a lot of time and effort, and it might be best to not worry about it when we all started. It was, do we need a, we fought like hell to get Facebook accounts. We should have a Facebook account for the school. It’s a great way to reach people there. The kids are on there right now. That’s where we should be back in 2012.

We’re telling the people that we work with and they’re like, Facebook, I don’t know if we need to go there. Now. If you were to say to someone, which I have, we shouldn’t have Facebook anymore. We absolutely need a Facebook 100%. The times. Change, best practices change and ideas change. This is a great chance to really, really think about where you are.

Maybe Twitter isn’t the only one that you dial. Maybe it’s a chance to really look at all of the places that you’re, all the different social tactics that you’re using to achieve your goals. What are we really trying to do here? Have we gotten so deep down into the swamp of what everybody else is doing that we can’t?

That just makes me think of that scene from the. You know, never ending story anyway, , we’re the horse. We are the horse, and the fed averse is trying to drag us out of the . That’s that movie, right? That’s that one

Jon-Stephen Stansel: I think it’s, is it, , it’s a different one. I think it’s hero

Andrew Cassel: scene with a horse trapped in mud.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: if there’s only some like interconnected web of.

Joel Goodman: we had an information superhighway.

Andrew Cassel: That’s all to say. How should institutions start? Start with the own individual account managers taking time to explore I and if, if your manager looks at very closely the time that you spend, say, this is my professional development time. I wanna see what this is all about and be like, okay, maybe you can learn a little bit about that and let us

Jon-Stephen Stansel: Dang it. It is neverending story. I thought it was, ah, this is twice on this show. I have like missed a pop culture thing.

Andrew Cassel: , so start exploring your own. Don’t try to launch it for yourself Where we belong on there, we will find those neighborhoods. Make your own neighborhood, build your own houses, fill it with your own population. Get people talking to each other. Can you imagine a staff member and a faculty member sharing a space and saying, Hey, you know, I saw, thank you so much for the work that you’re doing.

Absolutely, no problem. And I did wanna mention. For sure. One of the big differences about, , ma Don and the Fed averse and Twitter, which has been a source of grave concern for a lot of people, it’s on Twitter. We got so used to quote tweeting people, here’s a tweet. I’m adding my insight on it, making a comment on it, doing whatever I’m gonna do, and then move on.

Mastodon was hardwired to not have that feature. And the creator of Macon has talked all about why. Basically it boils down to, it fosters bullying that you could quote to someone and be like, they’re so stupid. Can you believe how stupid they are? And then people that follow the Bulliers Twitter feed go and they log on docs and do all that stuff to the person who’s being bullied in the Fed averse.

You can favorite something you can boost. So, Then you can comment on that. You can reply to the post, but you can’t boost something and quote it. That has been the part that I have found most difficult to adapt to. How can I take this piece of content with, I agree with, and I wanna talk about it, and I’ve gotta go now I’ve gotta.

I’ve gotta copy the link for that piece of content and then I’ve got, it comes back to, I’m gonna use the magic third one of my time saying this. I’ve been so lazy, but now it’s asking me to do the work. It puts the work in social networking and we have not exercised those muscles in a decade, and it’s.

It hurts. It’s both going to the gym and you get past the gym on one day. You come home and your body is all sore, like, I’m never doing that again. Then you lean back to your Doritos and the KE and your Netflix. It’s not a one to one change. Give yourself time where we belong, we’re gonna explore it. It’s a frontier and what we have found out, it’s not the final one because who knows what’s gonna come after.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: I think that’s a great note to to end it. To Andrew’s point, anything, whether or not you think your school needs to create a Mastodon account or server or get into the Feder verse, you need to at least be exploring it and, and be familiar with the platform. So when those questions come up, you’re familiar with it.

So yes, I, I agree with you a hundred percent. Andrew, you need to set aside some professional development time. Spend a couple days playing around mato on and, and, and understanding that hive as well. And all of these little emerging platform, not, maybe not Hive yet, cause there’s some security issues there.

I think I started my account too soon. I’m a little nervous, but like you, you need to at least like read up on them, , , listen to a podcast about them, , and, and, and, and know, know the ins and outs a little bit. Like, like any, any social platform before creating one for your. Brand, like do the research and planning first, and that’s what we need to be doing.

Right.

Andrew Cassel: Have the fun and then you can make it work. So the, the feta verse is great. I really believe it is a very, , a way to move away from, , algorithm driven, corporate driven. Capitalist driven performance, social media, and embracing the true spirit of social networking to create an environment where people can connect with things that they’re interested in that isn’t overshadowed by money

Jon-Stephen Stansel: on that note, Andrew, where can people find you? Why didn’t you plug yourself

Joel Goodman: Where are you on the Fed?

Andrew Cassel: Abcassel@home.social is the server that I have sort of, that I’ve grown my following. Now There are over 60 people follow me on there, , from the past couple of weeks that I’ve been. One of thing about the Mainlining Mastodon, which I have been doing absolutely is my girlfriend said to me over the weekend.

No screen time. Stop it. It’s not helping your mental health. Please, please take it away so it gets so like to explore it. Give yourself some time. But that’s the place where you can find me. Abcassel@home.social.

Joel Goodman: Thank you so much for listening to Thought Feeder. Again, my name is Joel Goodman. Jon-Stephen Stansel is my co-host, and the show is produced by Carl Gratiot. We are very, very grateful to you, Andrew Cassel, for being on the show again and , and telling everyone where they can find you in the Fediverse.

Thank you so much for being on.

Andrew Cassel: It is my pleasure. And hello Carl. I know you’re there in listening.

Joel Goodman: He’s in the background. , if you like our show, we would greatly appreciate a rating and a comment and a review on Apple Music or wherever else your podcast app will let you comment and review. , or you know, just give us a subscribe and Spotify or Google Music or Amazon podcasts or you know, all the different places cuz that’s where we’re at.

you can also visit our website, thoughtfeederpod.com, where we’ve got back episodes and transcripts forever episode that we have done. We’re also on social media. You can find us on LinkedIn. You can still find us on Twitter, but I don’t know how exactly, active we’re gonna be there going forward. I know we haven’t been super active recently

Jon-Stephen Stansel: I’m staying till the bitter end,

Joel Goodman: you know, on the website, Yeah, J.S. will be there till the bitter end. You can find me on Mastodon at JoelGoodman@mastodon.social, if you wanna say hey, but you know, we’re all also on LinkedIn, so find us and give us a follow and say hey, otherwise we hope you will come back and listen to us soon.

We’ll have another episode out in a couple of weeks.