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S05 E06 – Recap & Fedi

Laura and Doug reflect on the season and share loads of thoughts about the fediverse migration, content warnings and more in this recap episode.


Find all of our guests’ reading recommendations at our The Tao of WAO book club.



Important note: this is a lightly-edited AI transcription of the conversation. If you require verbatim quotations, please double-check against the audio!

Doug Belshaw: [00:00:23] Welcome to the Tao of WAO, a podcast about the intersection of technology, society and internet culture with a dash of philosophy and art for good measure. I’m Doug Belshaw.

Laura Hilliger: [00:00:34] And I’m Laura Hilliger. This podcast season is currently partially unfunded. You can support this podcast and other. We are open projects and products at open So we are coming to the final episode of Season five and because we have been focussed on learning broadly throughout this entire season, I thought it would be a good idea if we did a little bit of reflection because reflecting is an important part of learning.

Doug Belshaw: [00:01:08] Well, let me stop you right there before we do that. So one of the wonderful things which I always get lots out of when we interview people for this podcast is to ask them what books are their favourite. Have had the most influence on them, whatever. And it’s interesting that most people want to give like at least a fiction book and a non-fiction book and whatever, and I feel like it tells you a lot about them. And also I find and discover wonderful books because of that. Um, and I noticed that you’ve created a book club on a site that we’ve been using called Literal Club, which is a great idea. And I’m really thankful that you’ve done that work and people can go and check it out. How do they go and get there?

Laura Hilliger: [00:01:53] Yeah, it’s really cool. It was actually your idea, so don’t be modest. I just push the buttons to make it happen. Literally. Club slash. Club slash Tao. Dash of dash. Wow. Is where you can find the club. And I believe literal is now open to anyone who wants to join. It’s a it’s a site that allows you to track books you’re reading and write reviews, talk to other people about books that they’re reading and intend to read books. And Doug and I joined sometime earlier this year after I think you gave me an invite. And then I felt very special because the last time I had an invite to a new thing on the Internet was like Google Mail back in 1999.

Doug Belshaw: [00:02:40] It’s great, I love it. So my profile says invited by Adam Proctor on it. So thank you, Adam, if you’re listening. And then I invited Laura and now anyone can sign up. I have noticed actually that since you put this on last on this morning, that Oliver Quinlan has signed up. So he’s our first member who’s not us, I guess of the, of the book club. The way that I describe literal to people is that it’s it’s like it’s as if Goodreads had had some product development in the last ten years and wasn’t owned by Amazon.

Laura Hilliger: [00:03:10] That is a good description. Yeah.

Doug Belshaw: [00:03:14] So we’re going to keep that up to date. Yeah.

Laura Hilliger: [00:03:17] We’ll include the link in the in the show notes and I’ve actually linked it on our podcast page on, we have a page for this podcast. So if you’re trying to find a link, you can always go to and go to the podcast page and you’ll find all the streams, all the links, all the things.

Doug Belshaw: [00:03:40] And while we’re kind of reflecting on the year, one of the things I’ve really enjoyed this year, as well as kind of this season of the podcast, is just how learn with site, which is free and everyone can access it and it’s all Creative Commons license has just kind of flourished because Anna, who’s one of the people we had on the podcast this season, has just taken taken it by the scruff of the neck, as we’d say in the northeast of England, um, and kind of fashion it into something which is really useful not only for us but for other people as well. So yeah, good stuff.

Laura Hilliger: [00:04:13] Yeah. I find myself going to the learn with site to find stuff that we did that I can’t remember how else to get to like a lot of the tools and resources. And Anne has done a great job writing up some of the methods that we use when we’re thinking, thinking about things. And it’s just really helpful to be able to go to the knowledge pool and the tools that are there and find templates. So I use it all the time. And as Doug said, it’s all license and free, so check it out.

Doug Belshaw: [00:04:43] The other thing this year, before we get into the kind of episodes and what we’ve learned from people is that 2022 has been the year then we’ve kind of been allowed out again. We’ve been allowed out into the world to play, to go to events and conferences and stuff and just how much of a I forgot how much I missed that, and I’m looking forward to seeing that in 2023. Even more like going once a month to somewhere. And in fact, we’re going to be meeting up as a co op in the Netherlands next month. In January 2023. So yeah, looking forward to that and just meeting people at events and all the serendipity and stuff that happens. So maybe some of the people on the podcast in the future will be people that we don’t know right now, but we will get to know because of the events that we where we meet people in person.

Laura Hilliger: [00:05:30] Yeah, I’m also looking forward to 2023 being the year that we really get back into it. I feel like 2022 was kind of dipping on my toes in the water of in real life stuff. And I remember that the water is nice and warm and friendly. So I’m, I’m looking forward to seeing people in real life a lot more next year.

Doug Belshaw: [00:05:53] So on the podcast this season, we had Liz, Aaron, Ped, Anna, Julie and Mark and then this is the last one episode six So let’s just dig into some of the stuff that we’ve learned from our podcast guests this season. Let’s start with Liz, the wonderful Liz who said nice things about my jumper once and so will forever be in my good books and on my Christmas card list.

Laura Hilliger: [00:06:18] Yeah, Liz was episode one and if you haven’t heard all the episodes from this season, then definitely go back. There’s a season on SoundCloud where you can listen to all of the different episodes that we’re going to talk about over the next few minutes. So Liz was episode one and we really focussed on talking about blended learning. We’ve been working with Liz for a couple of years now. She works with Greenpeace International. We’ve been doing some learning stuff with her and I personally have learned loads from Liz through the context of our work and in that podcast about blended learning. She shared a couple of models that I hadn’t heard of before. And. And Doug, you had mentioned when we were planning that, that you had never heard of the Honey Mumford Learning Style model before.

Doug Belshaw: [00:07:14] Yeah. So it says on the thing that we’ll link to and we link to in the show notes there that it’s based on Kolb’s learning Styles model, which I had come across in my work in higher education and stuff. But the Honey and Mumford One seemed to be more widely applicable, you know, with having effectively four quadrants of activists, reflectors, pragmatists and theorists. And I thought it was quite a nice way of, especially when you’re doing the kind of training or learning where you have to do something with it, kind of understanding that people who are involved in the training or the learning might actually have a different orientation to the world than you do. And the kind of the four orientations are concrete experience versus abstract conceptualisation and active experimentation versus reflective observation. So I found that really quite useful, especially given that when I was teaching in higher education, learning styles were just something that people roll their eyes at, you know, in terms of the visual, auditory, kinaesthetic, etcetera. So I found that wonderful and really useful for, for our work that we did with Liz for Greenpeace.

Laura Hilliger: [00:08:22] Yeah, like I like having a bunch of different models because you don’t know which one is going to be the one for the the thing that you’re building now or that you’re designing now. But I definitely appreciate, um, this idea that people come into different spaces in different ways and how, how we actually get them to engage and interact around a particular theme or program has a lot to do with where they were before, which ties nicely to the conversation that we actually had with Aaron. Um, which had a lot to do with governance and how to make decisions in groups of people. And he talked quite a bit about non-violent communication. And I think that understanding where people have come from helps you actually communicate in a way that is kind and compassionate because you’re, you know, understanding a little bit about their background means that you can put yourself in their shoes a bit more easily.

Doug Belshaw: [00:09:20] Yeah, I was reading something the other day which reminded me of the conversation we had with Aaron. And Aaron lives just the other side of Northumberland National Park just inside Scotland. So we’re going to be going for a walk together in that national park in a couple of weeks time. And Aaron is extremely grounded, very emotionally mature person who did some work with for the co-op as we set up a new co-operative actually as part of local co-op Drupal recently. And that was after we recorded the podcast with him and I read something recently. It was talking about how you get people who are very qualified and have gone through, you know, have been successful in kind of academic terms or whatever. But what they’re lacking is that kind of conscientiousness or emotional grounding or whatever. Um, and so with non-violent communication, there’s almost a framework for, well, how do you get better at that? And it’s kind of separating out your emotion into observations, thoughts, needs and feelings and so when you hear people like Aaron and also like Abby from outlandish talking in the language of needs, it can feel a bit weird at first. But actually that’s what we’ve all got underneath needs that we kind of want to be fulfilled. And so I found that conversation and all my conversations with Aaron really enlightening.

Laura Hilliger: [00:10:41] Yeah, the the Aaron mentioned the building out program from Outlandish which you and Aaron have had quite a quite a bit to do with and I think there’s some there’s some really enlightening models in there to help you actually learn how to separate out your your feelings versus your thoughts versus your emotions needs, all of those things. I think the tricky part is the tricky part is actually recognising when you’re not doing it right. Like you and I had a conversation on the Fediverse recently about the emotion of anger you had shared. You had shared a quote from, I want to say Marcus Aurelius.

Doug Belshaw: [00:11:27] Yeah.

Laura Hilliger: [00:11:28] Doug is Nordic. Oh, my memory is correct. And I sort of push back a little and said, you know, it’s it’s not it’s anger is not something that that you need to control all of the time was the gist of my argument. And you and I kind of had a nice conversation. I thought about how how anger manifests in the body and what we actually do with it. And I thought that it’s it’s like really good to often have conversations about emotions at that level because you can bring it in everywhere, right? It’s not about controlling emotion. It’s about understanding and awareness.

Doug Belshaw: [00:12:06] Yeah. And this is why different perspectives are so important. It’s a bit like that famous cartoon of blindfolded people feeling an elephant and saying it’s a snake because they’re holding a trunk or it’s, you know, whatever. Because we all have different ways of looking at the world. And I saw that you had commented on a newsletter that Ian O’Beirne had published where he had like a little meme thing in the bottom little infographic, whatever you call it, something on social media, which said something like, if it’s not hard to do, it’s not worth doing or something like that. Just, um, and when I read that, I was a little bit like, I’m not sure if I agree with that. And then I saw what you’d posted like in your reflection about that as well. And I thought it was along the same lines as your perspective on on Anger as well. So I’m looking forward to having a conversation over a beer sometime about that.

Laura Hilliger: [00:13:01] The quote. The the quote was, There are no shortcuts to any place worth going. I can’t remember who said that, but I smiled immediately and just thought about my recent experience with bears in Slovakia, which was totally a shortcut thing and led to a great epic adventure. So, yeah, so the way we I think it’s I always think that sharing quotes is interesting because you when people share quotes, you tend to think that whoever has shared it has agreed with whatever the quote says. And I always find that really interesting to kind of pick apart, you know, whether whether or not you agree with a famous quote.

Doug Belshaw: [00:13:39] Do you ever share quotes without saying literally, I don’t agree with this. Do you ever share quotes that you don’t agree with?

Laura Hilliger: [00:13:48] Trying to think. I, I don’t often share quotes from, like, famous figures or historical figures. Like, it’s just not, you know, I read it and I’m like and then I go about my day. So I don’t really share quotes that often. Every once in a while when I’m reading an article or something, then I’ll quote the journalist or and not always agree. And usually when I don’t agree, I don’t say anything at all. I just post the quote as a provocation with a link to the article. Okay. So I’m kind of the like I’m I’m the opposite. So I will quote things that I don’t agree with but say nothing about it. And if somebody assumes that I agree, well, then I just figure it’s on them, which is maybe kind of a this is really interesting.

Doug Belshaw: [00:14:32] Like this whole thing about like, anger and shortcuts and the way that you do quotations and stuff. It’s almost like a philosophy of life in and of itself, right? Well, and the way that I do it. Well, no, it’s interesting because I, I put sometimes like whole threads of, of quotations on, on used to be Twitter, now on mask on and stuff from things that I read in the morning and I don’t think I would ever unless I explicitly said this is stupid look at this guy or whatever. I don’t think I would ever put a quotation on that I didn’t agree with because I feel like when someone reads that, they’re almost imagining it coming out of my mouth as well, which is probably a little bit self-aggrandising, but. Yeah.

Laura Hilliger: [00:15:17] Well, you’re quite prolific with your posting, so I’m going to challenge you more often, I think with some of the quotes you post because you post like 20 every morning and you know, I don’t read them all to be. I’m not I don’t stalk you because I see you every day.

Doug Belshaw: [00:15:33] Well, I tell you what I have noticed and it’s kind of obvious when you think about it. So it’s not a massive insight, but when people wake up in the morning, they’re much less likely to compose their own posts and they’re much more likely to retweet or boost or favourite someone else’s. So it’s like peak time if you want people to boost or favourite your stuff.

Laura Hilliger: [00:15:55] Huh? Really?

Doug Belshaw: [00:15:56] It’s not, it’s not the main reason I do it. It’s the main reason is because I want to share stuff that I’m doing. But I’ve noticed from doing that that there are certain types of things that you just, you know, people just boost, boost, boost, boost, boost. And then people follow you because of that or whatever. So I’m not grifting at all. It’s just something I’ve noticed. Um. And this just happens to be the time I sit down with my books and and read things.

Laura Hilliger: [00:16:22] I don’t I don’t put that much thought into I, I think I self-censor a lot more than I, um, think about what I’m posting or when. So I don’t post that much on social media anymore. I used to, but over the years I’ve just sort of gotten into this feeling that like, everything’s been said already, so why do I bother? Which I think is quite we’re going completely off topic with this, but.

Doug Belshaw: [00:16:50] Well, let’s put a pin in that because we want to come back to fediverse stuff and and everything like that. So let’s go back to season five, Episode three, where we spoke to the lovely Pedro, Pedro and Rosamund.

Laura Hilliger: [00:17:04] It’s actually a seamless. A seamless. What’s the word I’m looking for? Gateway. Segway.

Laura Hilliger: [00:17:10] Segway, Yes, Gateway. Gateway. Transition. Segway. Because one of the things that Ped talked about was the magic ingredients to make a great workshop. Yeah. And he I think he actually had six different building blocks, but I don’t have them in my mind. But what I do remember is that he talked about, um, those magic ingredients being context based. So making sure you come to where people are and, you know, making sure that the workshop is valuable to the people in the room and contextually based on whatever it is that they’re trying to achieve. He talked about them being evocative so so helping people to think from other perspectives and a new lights to to really engage them. And the third thing I remember him talking about was workshops needing to be experiential. So allowing people to be able to actually experience their topics and themes in a way that’s really engaging. And it’s a perfect segway because we were just talking about how we do social media, which is it’s not a good segway. I’m just going to.

Doug Belshaw: [00:18:22] No, that’s not.

Doug Belshaw: [00:18:23] But hey, let’s move swiftly on. I really enjoyed talking to Ped and as I always do, and I really like the fact that he talked about Ikigai without us prompting him. And that’s something which is actually it’s something which we use and which is on our learn with site around audience ikigai. So go and check that out. Moving on to Anna then. Anna was our intern, now collaborator. She kind of joined us for episode four of this season. She recommended a book which Laura had recommended to me, which is Invisible Women, which kind of helped change my thinking about, well, life in general, I guess. Um, but yeah, it’s been, it’s been a real experience for me having an intern and also on stepping up and she is so organised. It’s unbelievable.

Laura Hilliger: [00:19:07] Yeah, she’s great and she’s, and she’s, I really feel that the work that she did around feminist pedagogy was super inspiring to me and enlightening because, you know, we’ve, we’ve been doing, I’ve been doing teaching and learning my entire career. I studied education and thinking about how to create feminist classrooms and how to create feminist learning experiences. I thought that it was going to be complicated, you know, like complicated relationship with the word feminism, with the ideas of feminism. Not complicated, like as a negative connotation, but just like the idea of feminist pedagogy, I thought it was going to be hard for me to grok. And it turns out it’s actually really easy to grok and also really easy to do because feminist pedagogy is just, you know, it’s a lot about just being a humanist. And, and I thought, I think that the work she did around the email course was stellar and was really, really glad that we could support her in doing that and getting it out there into the world.

Doug Belshaw: [00:20:16] And it was also a good opportunity to revisit a post on Kotaku, which is a gaming website from ten years ago, which has managed to attract 2801 comments in that last ten years and the title of the post. And you probably can see why it’s got so many comments is straight white male. The lowest difficulty setting there is, and I have referenced this post on quite a number of occasions over the last ten years and I actually, um, shall I say this? Yes, I shall. I was recently revisiting. A bit of controversy from 2014 when I was working at Mozilla and I made a throwaway comment at a like a seminar workshop thing that I did at Sheffield Hallam University. And I made an offhand comment just about how I kind of just test this stuff out on my mother now. And if she can do it, then it’s all good. Um, and it took no more than 20s of my time and someone wrote a blog post calling me out on that. I reacted angrily and I didn’t. It wasn’t my finest hour. And then I ended up on the geek feminism wiki and just how angry I was about that, but how much learning I’ve done since then. Um, mainly over the last couple of years I would say. But going back to that and thinking about how we develop as people is quite interesting, especially given our digital footprint doesn’t get updated.

Laura Hilliger: [00:21:44] Yeah.

Laura Hilliger: [00:21:45] And I think, I mean, I think this is the, like, this is the interesting thing about anger that we were talking about on the Fetih verse, like what your reaction to something tells you a lot about how you feel about it. Like an example this morning I put something on the fediverse and it was something about immigration policy and I didn’t put it behind a content warning and somebody answered just to say this would have been a good post for a content warning. And I like was immediately a little bit triggered and a little bit angry because I felt like somebody was slapping my hand. And I noticed that there’s been a lot of conversation in the fediverse around content warnings lately. And I and I noticed how how I got angry about it. And I, you know, and I told myself, well, you know, this guy just doesn’t have anything better to do than to slap people’s hands about content warnings because I didn’t post something that I felt was particularly controversial or whatever. But I apologised immediately. I said, Oh, because it’s politics, apologies and a couple hours later he responded. He was like, Oh, well, it’s because it’s German politics. And, you know, not a lot of your followers maybe live in Germany. So it’s kind of irrelevant to us. And I was like, Oh, oh, right. So irrelevancy is a good, good reason to put a content warning on something that’s really interesting. But my initial reaction was, you know, like it was a learning moment for me. My initial reaction was, I hate people on the Internet.

Doug Belshaw: [00:23:18] What that insight is really interesting to me. Like the fact that actually and I was talking I was talking to my kids about this the other day. Um, I forgot what the context was in the examples I gave, but it was, I was basically saying that people tend to hate in other people the things that they hate in themselves. And I was using that as an example for something that happened in school. It wasn’t like bullying or anything, just like, you know. School based on pleasantness as tends to happen everywhere. And I was like, look, when people lash out verbally and stuff, it tends to be they see in someone else something that they don’t like in themselves. And that happens obviously as adults and on the fetih verse and things as well. But what I’ve come to realise about content warnings and I guess we’ll talk about the free verse a bit in a moment, is that the reason to content warning your stuff is not because you need a guide for it or because there’s an objective way of doing it. It’s because if you don’t content one stuff, if you don’t use a content warning, people will unfollow you. And maybe that’s okay because they’re not people you want to follow. But if it’s like a really low bar thing to do, like I put poll on anything is even remotely related to UK politics. Um, it just means that people can just skip on by that post. And I used to get a bit like, Oh, do I have to do this? But now I just see it as like almost a, I saw someone talk, talk about it as a content rapper, like almost like a headline or like a tag. So I just, I used to get annoyed and I don’t.

Laura Hilliger: [00:24:52] Yeah, I think we should. Let’s let’s go back to our reflection, but put a pin in that, too, because I want to talk about content rappers content warnings on the Fediverse with you have more to say.

Doug Belshaw: [00:25:04] Well, episode five was Mark Otto and Julie Keen from Participate. So the first is it the first podcast episode we’ve had with two guests?

Laura Hilliger: [00:25:15] I think it is, yeah.

Laura Hilliger: [00:25:17] I was actually pleasantly surprised that the four of us managed to have actually a really great conversation without talking over each other all the time. I thought that was pretty, pretty stellar that we, you know, didn’t have to. And it had. I was going to say, it hasn’t been released yet, but by the time our listeners are hearing this, it has been released. So. I’ll just cut this part out.

Laura Hilliger: [00:25:46] Ha! Beep let’s start over with Mark and Julie.

Doug Belshaw: [00:25:52] So yeah, Episode five was Mark and Julie, and I think it’s the first time we’ve Mark and Julia from Participate, who are one of our clients, and we do a great project called Keep Badges Weird. But I think it’s the first time we’ve had two guests on the podcast. Is that right?

Laura Hilliger: [00:26:08] Yes. And I was pleasantly surprised that the four of us managed to have actually quite a good conversation without interrupting each other all too much or talking over each other. I thought that was really cool. So we should have we should have multiple guests in future episodes too. It’s possible.

Doug Belshaw: [00:26:25] I think that’d be good. And I was really pleased that we managed to actually cover what’s quite a complex topic sometimes in terms of value cycles and communities of practice and, and whatever. Um, in a way which I think hopefully people will be able to understand and get value from if they haven’t come across it before.

Laura Hilliger: [00:26:43] Yeah, I think the way that Mark described and gave examples about landscapes of practice was really helpful to sort of understand why it’s important, how it’s important and where the overlaps are. And so the, the example that he gave was like a paediatrician, a parents group and a elementary school. All of these different groups of people, adults, they have different focus points, but they all revolve around our children and creating safe spaces for them and creating healthy spaces for them. And that overlap is what a landscape of practice is all about. And I thought Mark did a great job sort of explaining, explaining all the ins and outs there. I learned a lot.

Doug Belshaw: [00:27:24] Well, that’s one of the reasons that we have the podcast. Not only do we get a chance to do something which isn’t just, you know, writing and that kind of thing, but also we get to talk to to cool people and learn new stuff. So more, more of that, please. In 2023.

Laura Hilliger: [00:27:39] Yes, agreed. What are we going to do for our next season? Season six.

Doug Belshaw: [00:27:46] Well, I mean, season five was the first time we had kind of a theme, I guess, which was around learning and development and training and that kind of stuff. So I don’t know if there’s anyone out there or if it is just my mum listening. Maybe it’s not even her. But if you do have any ideas for a theme for a next season, please do let us know. We haven’t booked in any guests yet, although we do have some in mind. So if you have a theme for us, then do let us know. Um. You can get us at the usual places or you can just send a pigeon. Um, right. Let’s get back to talking about the fetih verse and content warnings and all of that jazz. So we’re talking right at the end of November 2022, just for context. And it’s now almost exactly a month, I think, since Elon Musk took over Twitter and the last four weeks have been interesting.

Laura Hilliger: [00:28:46] They’ve definitely been interesting for me. I have been on Mastodon since 2016 or 17, and as I said a few minutes ago, I don’t actually post a lot on social media anymore, just for years and years. I haven’t post that much, but with Mastodon, I find it really interesting. I have started in the last month to use Mastodon much more in a way that I used to use Twitter, i.e. my mastodon timeline has become active in a way that it wasn’t before. I’ve followed a lot more people. I’ve lots of people have followed me over the over the last month. And it’s I think it’s really interesting because I remember six weeks ago I went to Mastodon to see what the people that I like, certain people were saying or certain people were talking about pretty predominantly in the realm of like fetish versus topics. Um, so, so like I see a real content shift happening on Mastodon lately. Um, and I think that’s, yeah, it feels like a lot more people have joined, um, which they have.

Doug Belshaw: [00:30:01] Mm. Like millions more people. So two things have happened for me this year. First of all, I change instance back to social, which is one that I was on. The wonderful thing about the Fediverse is you can change between things quite easily and have multiple accounts and stuff. Um, one thing I do want to say is that, you know, the fediverse as Laura was referring to, is not just Mastodon. Mastodon is one particular software project which is built upon Activitypub, which is the protocol on top of it. It’s a bit like and this is an imperfect analogy, but a bit like when you’re talking about email, just talking about Gmail, like it’s just one way of of accessing the email network, as it were. So yeah, I’d be interested in that, but I changed from Fostered On, which was all about open, free and open source software. So lots of geeks talking about Linux a lot. Um, back to Social Corp, which is a lot of geeks talking about governance and co ops. But then as you say like regular non geeky non um, early adopter people coming along has completely changed my timeline. I’m following a lot more people. I’m following almost 2000 people and I’ve got about almost 2000 people following me. Um, and just when you get that number of people with the diversity of interests, just like on Twitter in the early days, as soon as people started coming along there, the whole conversation changes, which is for the for better and worse. Yeah. Do you filter any terms or words or do you make good use of the muting and blocking and all that stuff?

Laura Hilliger: [00:31:41] I do not. And I this is this is another thing that I’ve been thinking about for the past month or so as I’ve noticed that my experience of Mastodon has has changed so much. And because I used to be that I went to Mastodon really to see what the what the geeks and nerds and lefties all were talking about this week kind of thing. And it wasn’t like for me, the people that I saw that I didn’t follow a lot of people or that a lot of people weren’t using weren’t using Mastodon. Like for the last years there’s been plenty of people, but for some reason the conversation never felt mainstream until this past month. And now there’s so there’s just so many more people that are posting things that are sort of outside what I understood Mastodon’s topics to be. Now it’s I mean, you know, anybody can post anything. It’s not that there were defined topics. It’s just it’s really ballooned out and I have not started to mute anything. I I’m no longer clicking forward when people put a content wrapper around the bird site. Like I just don’t really care about Twitter anymore. So I’m not reading those posts, but I’m also not filtering them.

Doug Belshaw: [00:32:59] So the only word that I block en Mastodon is Twitter. So if there are any.

Laura Hilliger: [00:33:09] That’s the only one?

Doug Belshaw: [00:33:11] Yeah. So if there are any posts which mention twitter, I don’t see them.

Laura Hilliger: [00:33:17] Do you see the bird site?

Doug Belshaw: [00:33:19] I see bird site here, but then that tends to be a bit more meta rather than people literally retweeting stuff and then cross posting or whatever. So I don’t get any of that. The other thing which you can do, which you know, I’ve been using, I’ve been on Mastodon because I kind of closed my Twitter account last year, so I’ve kind of been using it as my main thing for a while. And one of the things I really like is that you can mute people and you can permanently mute, but you can also mute them for a set period of time. So for example, it’s the World Cup at the moment. I put a content warning on my World Cup posts, as I think you should know. Everyone else is interested in football. Um, but if someone forgot to do that, you could literally, instead of unfollowing them or muting them forever, you could mute them for the next month or a week or whatever. And the other thing which I like, which probably says more about me than it does about them, is that if someone really annoys me, I quite like not blocking them, but just muting them into oblivion.

Laura Hilliger: [00:34:19] Um. Why?

Doug Belshaw: [00:34:21] Because Wwell, because then they don’t get the satisfaction of knowing that they’re blocked. I’m just not listening to them. And I never will.

Laura Hilliger: [00:34:29] Satisfying to be blocked. I don’t. I don’t.

Laura Hilliger: [00:34:32] Know that.

Doug Belshaw: [00:34:32] I think well, think about the difference in reaction if you block someone compared to when you meet them. Like it’s a bit like ghosting someone isn’t it. Mm. So if someone’s like, Ah, fuck you, I’m never going to talk to you again. Boom. Versus just not just ignoring them forever. I think they ignore them forever. I don’t like being ghosted myself, but then if someone’s annoyed me enough for me to mute them, I don’t really care.

Laura Hilliger: [00:35:00] Mm. I don’t, as I say.

Doug Belshaw: [00:35:02] Probably says more about me than it does about them. There we go.

Laura Hilliger: [00:35:06] So let’s talk a little bit about the content warning content rappers. Culture of Mastodon. You have been a lot more active on the platform over the past 6 or 7 years than I have. So I’d love to know, like, what are your. You said I mean, you said a few minutes ago, you said you used to get annoyed by content warnings, but now not so much. And I’d love to. Just like if you just want to ramble, chat a little bit and then we’ll bust in with some provocations.

Doug Belshaw: [00:35:42] So people. The main objection I’ve seen to people. Putting content warnings on are like, Well, we’ll get to the stage where we just have to content, warn everything and how am I supposed to know what people are going to be triggered by and whatever? And I think that’s the wrong way to think about it. I think there’s an etiquette about it, like, Oh, and being like a self awareness. Like, oh, literally, I watch a football match almost every single day of my life and my kids play football and I’m really into it. And maybe not everyone is. So when I’m enthusiastically posting about the World Cup and almost like live posting it, which I don’t do, but I’ve seen other people do, maybe that’s not that interesting for the people. Or maybe my cool hot takes on Elon Musk and Twitter are like not something that the timeline should be full of. The thing to remember, of course, is that Twitter only recently went from 140 to 280 characters. The default on Mastodon is like 500 or something, and then some don’t have a limit because it’s configurable based on what instance you’re on. So some just have thousands of words. And if you don’t put a content wrapper or content warning on that, saying like long post or my cool take on, you know, the philosophy of existentialism that’s taking up somewhat the entire timeline, it’s insane. So yeah, like I said before, the way that I see it is. If you don’t want people to like unfollow you, people who you’d actually quite like you to follow, to follow you, then maybe consider using content warnings. And if someone says, hey, that would appreciate a content warning on that and you actually value their opinion, just ask them what kind of content warning would have been useful.

Laura Hilliger: [00:37:34] There we go. Yeah, see I mean, I think it’s a little bit a delicate dance because I think there are some things people expect content warnings on that you might actually not agree with. So, for example, my post this morning was about immigration. Now I fully admit that not everybody is interested in German immigration policy. That’s totally fine. And I would guess that most of my followers aren’t German anyway. Um, but the idea like, I think there’s like an activism thing around social media and people who work in activist spaces wanting to be able to talk about issues and putting them behind content warnings every time means that there are certain issues that are not then by default, displayed to somebody who might think, you might think in a way about a particular issue that is actually against what an activist needs people to be thinking. So like the awareness thing. Um, and so I think there’s like the delicate dance is like when, you know, what are the, what are the, the reasons to use a content warning versus not to use a content warning. And you know, and are there like, are there any hard and fast rules. I would argue that.

Doug Belshaw: [00:38:57] No, I don’t think so. Well, I mean, like if you were posting. So for example. Yes, Right. So if you’re in an instance that says you’re allowed to post not safe for work stuff so long as it’s behind the content warning, if you didn’t do that and started posting porn pictures, which would would have been allowed on your instance if they were behind the content warning, then you’re going to get kicked off your instance. That’s just kind of a given. Um, I have seen you use content warnings for stuff in the last few days. Um, I personally would have put your post about German politics behind it. German politics thing. Um, not because I don’t think it’s important, but because it has a specific context and people try and set clear politics and whatever the activist thing and people seeing stuff is an interesting one because I think. I was of the same mind as you in the sense that if you put something behind a content warning, fewer people are going to see it. I don’t think that’s true. No. It might well be. Let me qualify what I’m going to say. Let’s talk about engagement, which is a weird thing. I think that if you put something behind a content warning and someone clicks to see it, they’re much more likely to interact with it. Because they’ve opted in to seeing it. So some of my most engaged with posts, as it were, have been with behind content warnings. They’ve had UK poll or something like that or fediverse meta or so it’s worth experimenting with. And what I would say is that there’s a there’s a philosophical debate to be had about this stuff, but there’s a pragmatic approach to be taken as well. And I am here all day for the philosophical debate. But until you just start testing it out and seeing what’s going on. Like there’s a practice to it. There’s an experimental part. Yeah.

Laura Hilliger: [00:40:49] No, I would agree with that. And I, um. Yeah, I just.

Laura Hilliger: [00:40:55] This is actually the first time I’ve been called out about content warnings because I do use them. And I do think that there are some hard and fast rules. I think that things I think that there are certain topics that should always be behind a content warning, whether there’s activism involved or not. But I too am here for the philosophical debate because I think it’s really like what you said earlier, you know, the criticism that if things are if everything is behind a content warning, then, you know, you have to actually click further to see anything. And I think that that is actually a real danger because if I mean, I saw you, I don’t know, a month ago or something, you had a content warning about food and I didn’t understand it at all. And somebody commented on it that that, you know, they didn’t they also didn’t understand the food content warning. And I still don’t understand why why food like why talking about food would need a content warning. And so I feel like there’s there’s there are things there’s lots of yeah there’s lots of them and I’m and and so that delicate dance is like how do we actually find find the steps, how do we take a pragmatic approach to content warnings.

Doug Belshaw: [00:42:08] So kind of a slightly disingenuous way of responding to that would be. Um, I remember reading a philosophy article when I was at uni saying that you could sum up my approach by saying my right to swing my fist ends at your nose. Um, which is basically kind of a flippant way of saying, Yeah, I can do what I want in life, but I’ve got to interact with other people. Now, have I been called out on not. Content warning my food posts. Yes I have. Which is why content warning I put a content warning on there. Does it cost me anything to do that? No. I have to press a button and press it and type in four things. Does it make any difference to my life? No. Is it going to make a difference to someone else’s? Maybe if they’re struggling with, you know, food issues or whatever. It’s a bit like and I used to think this was stupid and now I don’t. And in fact, on my post, which I wrote the other day in published about content warnings on the Fetih verse, in fact, I’ll bring that up just to remind myself of what I wrote. I actually found myself writing that I really appreciate people putting a content warning on like strong eye contact.

Doug Belshaw: [00:43:23] And I never would have written that before. But when you get used to a feed, which hasn’t got a big picture of people staring right at you, when you start seeing that, it’s quite yeah, it’s quite jarring. So I’ve put how to content worn on the fetih verse and this post from last week. Um and linked to a 2018 Mastodon quick start guide and in that it says quote My advice is simple. If you’re not sure whether a toot needs a content warning or not, give it a content warning. People really appreciate it and it doesn’t do any harm to be too cautious and too respectful of others. You can also use a content warning to summarise a long post, some use of a joke punchlines. Maybe you’ll think of other uses for it. Have fun. End of quote. And then I’ve just said I appreciate people putting content warnings on politics or anything related to abuse, strong eye contact and spoilers. Um, and so, yeah, like I say, I don’t think it’s such a big deal. I don’t see it as a limitation of freedom of speech. I see it as just being a citizen of, of the Fediverse. Huh?

Laura Hilliger: [00:44:38] That is the sound of Laura’s brain turning.

Doug Belshaw: [00:44:43] Well, we’re almost at time, I think. But, um, I’ve been really thankful to have this podcast as a different outlet for us this year. I’ve really enjoyed the conversations we’ve had. I’ve very much appreciated the fact that you have done all of the editing and publishing and stuff, because the previous podcast that I used to co-host, I used to have to do all that, and it’s a lot of unseen work, which especially when you have to boost levels and cut things together and do whatever can take a not insignificant amount of time. So thank you, Laura.

Laura Hilliger: [00:45:13] Yeah. No, I, um. I have learned a lot about doing sound editing this year and last year as well since we had a podcast, I’d never done it before. So I’m actually having fun learning and very thankful to have some support in that area. Um, and I, yeah, I really enjoyed this season. I thought having just talking to all these great people that we have the pleasure of working with, um, and people in our network, it’s I think guest episodes are always my favourite, not because I don’t like talking to you, but, but because I actually really like it to, to hear some different perspectives. Um, and people really show up and bring what they want to talk about and I think that’s cool. So yeah, so I guess, you know, we, we have some thinking to do about what we want to do next season and I would actually love for listeners to help us out. You can send us an email at podcast at we are co-op or add some comments to SoundCloud or Spotify or wherever you are listening to this podcast. You can tweet, toot, you can toot at us at We’re open where’s our we are open account Mastodon social on social.

Doug Belshaw: [00:46:29] Yeah, yeah.

Laura Hilliger: [00:46:31] So on Mastodon social, if you tweet at us on the Twitter, we might see it might take us a while to get back to you because none of us actually look at it on a regular basis.

Doug Belshaw: [00:46:41] But well, we’re probably blocked by Elon Musk by then for being too left leaning, but, um, probably so. Yeah. There we go. Um, cool. So last things then, Laura. Um, we’re shutting down for the end of the year. At the same time, I think we’re both having three weeks off. Is that right?

Laura Hilliger: [00:46:56] Uh, is it three weeks? Yeah, I think so.

Laura Hilliger: [00:46:59] Our. We’re shutting down on the 16th of December. Yeah.

Doug Belshaw: [00:47:05] And. But will you still be on the socials over Christmas?

Laura Hilliger: [00:47:09] I will be on the socials the week after that. The week of the 19th. I am going to try my very best to get my brain, my work brain organised for 2023. Um, just doing some of those little techie nerdy things that need to be done every year. Usually I usually do some Laura’s internet maintenance jobs in between. Um, you know, when we, when we stop for the year and when we start the next year.

Doug Belshaw: [00:47:36] Yeah, me too. I’ve got my thought. Shrapnel website needs completely overhauling, and I’m like, mentally. Yep, that’s it. Because in my head, that space between Christmas and New Year is like some kind of Tardis. And it’s just a million days between Christmas and New Year.

Laura Hilliger: [00:47:54] Yeah, exactly. I’m going to I am going to write my entire next novel, maybe Vampires in between Christmas and New Year’s this year. That’s not true.

Doug Belshaw: [00:48:04] I’m not. You can.

Doug Belshaw: [00:48:04] Follow. You can follow Laura @Epileptic Rabbit at I’m sure she’ll get on to a cooler, smaller instance at some point. And I am

Laura Hilliger: [00:48:18] All right. Well, thanks for listening, everyone. See you next year!

Doug Belshaw: [00:48:22] Cheers for now!