I was intrigued and delighted to see that a company is holding a social media conference for Wales. I’m a big fan of skilling-up in Wales, and a big fan of digital media. So, naturally, I offered my services for extolling the benefits of open source social media.

I got a thumbs-up on my comment from one of the organisers; though I haven’t yet been approached for my pitch. That’s fine – it’s not my event. But, looking at the existing programme, I can’t help feel as though the organisers have a bit of a blind spot – philosophically – about the downside of traditional social media.

There’s plenty in there for people who think business as usual – surveillance capitalism etc – is the right path to be following. I mean….if your business model is based on propping up the tech giants, I can understand that.

But I see very little there to speak to people who might value a different approach. To take one example – the session on how to maximise the benefits of ‘paid social (advertising) – appears to take as read that it’s a good thing.

One might equally challenge why public bodies in Wales are spending our money to compete with other users in a web of algorithms set up by private sector companies based overseas and likely not paying much in the way of tax in the UK. Particularly when open-source, ethical, ‘hate-free’ alternatives already exist; I’m thinking mostly of Mastodon and Pixelfed but there’s a myriad of others.

Landing page for the Pixelfed website
The landing page for the Pixelfed website.

Without wanting to repeat stuff I’ve posted earlier, the open source social media platforms are largely interconnected. That means that if you post something on Mastodon, you can also see it on Pixelfed. This functionality greatly increases the reach and longevity of your communications.

They also – mostly – ban hate speech, which means that your experience on these platforms will probably be more pleasant than on Twitter, Instagram and Tik Tok.

The lack of paid mechanisms to increase your profile (or your organisation’s profile) can appear to be a headache for social media managers. But the Fediverse rewards organisations that take a long-term approach to building relationships, and as there’s no paid advertising, there’s no short-cuts. Which rewards all the more the people who are engaging in genuine, meaningful and valuable ways.

I would love to see Wales become a leader in open source social media. I feel as though I’m making some slight inroads, partly helped by the Twitter bin-fire, but we are a long way off a true plurality.

Here’s my offer to the event organisers; you book me for a slot, and I’ll deliver a presentation for you. The title? “Why you shouldn’t come to this conference”.

Best wishes to the organisers, and I confidently look forward to hearing from you about my offer.