Why EUNOMIA builds on Mastodon; what is a decentralised social network

EUNOMIA is being built on top of Mastodon. Mastodon has some unique qualities that make it a great foundation for research projects and businesses. It is a social network where people can post text messages, images, videos, polls, subscribe to each other to receive those posts in their chronological home feeds, and otherwise interact with each other through replies, favourites, and re-shares of each others’ posts.

But unlike traditional social networks, Mastodon is decentralised. It’s a collection of websites that almost seamlessly integrate with each other. A person who signed up on one of those websites is able to subscribe to and interact with someone who signed up on a totally different website, and there is no one who controls all of them: Each is controlled by a different entity, be it an individual or an organization (let’s call them servers instead of websites from here on). There is no central authority that owns all data or tells people how to use the network or how it should be financed; every participant has full agency over their own participation.

What’s more, Mastodon is free, open-source software. That means that anyone can download its code, inspect it, or modify it to their needs, and more importantly, anyone can run it to create their own place in the network. Because the integration between Mastodon servers is covered by a standard protocol approved by the World Wide Web Consortium, nobody is locked down to always using Mastodon code — anything that implements that same protocol will integrate just as easily. Furthermore, Mastodon puts a lot of weight behind its API (application programming interface). Everything that Mastodon’s default user interface can do, is done through its API, an API fully available to app developers. Developing alternative user interfaces is not only possible, but encouraged.

So, why is Mastodon great for EUNOMIA? A seamless integration of EUNOMIA’s user interface within Mastodon demonstrates these benefits: EUNOMIA has first-class access to a well-documented API that does not lock away any features and will never be paywalled. What’s more, with our own Mastodon server, we have the perfect testing environment of a fully-featured modern social network entirely under our own control.

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