Saturday Social – Aug. 7, 2021 Edition: ELEMENT!!!

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I have been learning more and more about the fediverse during the last year or so, and decentralization. It all began with a foray into Mastodon, which is a wonderful decentralized social network. (Don’t worry about memorizing these terms, there won’t be a test!) Though I frequent multiple instances my “home” instance is called theres.life. And it truly feels like home to me, and the other users feel like family.

I’ve also been trying out various social platforms since I shook the Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube dust off my feet, and reported about most of them here. The latest have been Signal and Element. Today I want to talk about Element.

Element is an app that connects people on the decentralized network Matrix. (And this is why I introduced those concepts at the beginning, for those who weren’t aware.) So when the owner of theres.life created a community on Element for the members of his instance, I was all in! Now I’m still VERY new to Element, which is my first foray into the Matrix network (but not my last I’m sure!), as Mastodon was my first foray into the fediverse (and not my last!) so I’m not an expert. But from the point of view of a beginner there I am thrilled with it!

I have become more and more committed to the ideal of decentralization. Besides what I already mentioned, I also use Pixelfed to share photos. I have also used Peertube in the past, and though my first experience wasn’t exactly rewarding, I do plan to use it in the future for posting my vlogs and videos. There are more options certainly, and I realize I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface…anyway, back to Element.

I like a good chat client. From on the original IRC (pre-www!) to ICQ to Powwow I have always enjoyed the company of online friends in real time. And Element does the job. It not only allows live text chat but also voice and video communications; I don’t typically use these last two but if I ever want to, they’re there. And it is secure, and lacks the many drawbacks inherent in centralized platforms. And it is fun, with enough little bells and whistles to make things more interesting!

If you try Element let me know so I can meet up with you there! Don’t be intimidated by the terminology above, which I only included to offer a very VERY basic primer on how it is different from what you’re probably used to. BUT once you install it and start using it you will see that it isn’t really that different at all from whatever else you have used. That’s what I’ve found, and I have SO MUCH to learn but am figuring it out easily as I go along, and you can too!

I’ve been more than happy to get out of the clutches of the Big Tech platforms, and the more I learn about these alternatives the happier I am. I’m probably 75% of the way to being totally free of their control, and plan to be 100% by the end of this year. And with great apps like Element it won’t be nearly as painful as I originally had feared!

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