Rethinking Google Circles with Mastodon

Like a lot of people, I have been trying to figure out my Twitter/off-Twitter strategy lately with the uncertainty around both the technical and the philosophical future of the product. And like a lot of people, I have been using Mastodon a lot more lately (though I did create my Mastodon account in 2022 before it was cool 😁).

Compared to Twitter, Mastodon is a harder experience to get into, but tbh, so was Twitter during its early days (I still remember the “Why would I tweet” conversations from back in the day). One of the biggest issues is that there doesn’t seem to be a great answer to “which instance should I join”. It kinda comes down to the community you want to belong to, but most of us belong to various communities.

Thinking about this a bit yesterday, I was reminded of Google+’s Circles idea (which I actually loved). The ability to publish your content to selective communities based on a tag or a drop-down list and then only subscribe to others’ content that I am interested to seems like a good idea.

I mocked up a couple of screens on how this could appear. The way I imagine is that there is a “root” account where all your posts are published and people can follow you right there to get every update (pretty much like how things work today). Additionally, though, you could publish to certain other communities based on a tag in your post. Users only interested in following your topic-specific updates could just follow you there.

The image on the left is a “follow” widget that lets others either follow every update from me. The image on the right is the post/toot widget which allows you to either post an update without a tag or with a specific tag.

Mastodon circles concept

If it sparks an idea among the Mastodon developers or community managers, that would be worth the 30 mins I spent on it. I do have a few other ideas I’ll share soon as well, but in the meanwhile, you can follow me on Mastodon here

Why Facebook’s new changes don’t feel like the death of Twitter

I had a pretty interested conversation with JPToto yesterday, on Facebook no less, on Facebook’s new features and their impact on Twitter. JP posted his thoughts on the coming twit-pocalypse on his blog today. I am posting my conversation with JP below. However the very fact that I cant actually link to it is the main reason I am less of the opinion that Facebook can devour Twitter completely.


Twitter is definitely a fascinating beast ( and being a twittaholic, my opinions here may be biased. Follow me on People use it in very different ways. I definitely use it to keep tabs on my close friends and share a link every once in a while. In that respect, yes I dont care if I get that information from Facebook or Twitter.

However the real value I get out of twitter is a cursory connection with the people who I have the highest admiration for, the big names in Flash, Flex, Silverlight, Java world, guys who are running companies I respect or have opinions I think are valid. The connection isn’t always two way. I follow more people whom I dont know personally than those I do. Twitter is now my main source of personalized news and I dont see Facebook becoming that.

And what about services getting on Twitter that are really useful. The utilitarian awesomeness of things like @comcastcares is just hard to translate to Facebook metaphors.

The Facebook redesign is interesting, though I wonder if they were completely influenced my the more vocal but smaller fraction of their user base. My friends who aren’t into Twitter dont like the design much but they’ll learn to live with it. It may make them more active over the next few years (maybe) but I dont see it changing the way people who have invested time on building a group on Twitter leaving it for Facebook, unless they change their entire security system allowing follows with limited privileges.

Whats really going to start getting annoying to me is the fragmentation of conversation again (its already a headache if you are trying to follow blog comments/conversations). My status update will now be duplicated as will my friends’ and I have no idea where to respond for whom, and lack of the reply API on Facebook’s apis makes it even more irritating.

It will be interesting to see how it goes but I am not giving up my Twitter profile anytime soon.