Last weekend I was running short of stuff to hack around on and lamented this fact on the Fediverse. I was summarily challenged to find a way to archive posts to the Fediverse in an open, easy to understand data format that was easy to index, and did not use any third party services (like IFTTT or Zapier). I thought about it a bit and came up with a reasonably simple solution that uses three Huginn agents to collect, process, and write out posts as individual JSON documents to the same box I run that part of my exocortex on. This is going to go deep geek below the cut so if it's not your cup of tea, feel free to move on to an earlier post.
If you've been kicking around on the Net for the past year or so, you've probably come across a thinkpiece or two about Mastodon, an open source social network that's kind of like Twitter, kind of like Facebook, and kind of like... well, nobody's really sure what else would fit there. It's a bit of a wildcard. That seems to throw a lot of people, and because this is the Internet we're talking about that means a lot of "this could never possibly work" posts, nevermind a busy network of several thousand instances and several hundred thousand users doing everything from venting their spleens to asking for (and surprisingly oftentimes receiving) assistance, collaborating on projects, goofing around, and mourning their fallen...
This ambiguity and confusion makes it hard to understand why you'd even want to consider joining yet another social network. Let me see if I can help a little.
It seems that there is another influx of refugees from a certain social network that's turned into a never ending flood of bile, vitriol, and cortisol into what we call the Fediverse, a network of a couple of thousand websites running a number of different applications that communicate with each other over a protocol called ActivityPub. Ultimately, the Fediverse is different from Twitter and Facebook in that it's not run as a for-profit entity. There are no analytics, no suggestions of "thought leaders" you might want to follow, no automated curation of the posts you can see versus the ones you really want to see. Socially speaking, you don't find people carefully polishing their brands or trying to game hashtag trends but instead everything from somebody kicking back after work with a cup of coffee to people carefully archiving the firmware of classic computer hardware to in-jokes about pineapples. Rather than fame, you get people.
But that's not what I want to talk about. I've been asked by a couple of people to post a brief tutorial of how I interfaced my Huginn instance with mastodon.social, the Mastodon instance that I spend most of my time hanging out on.