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Working with Mastodon lists | InfoWorld

Since the early days of the blogosphere, I have appreciated the ability to see the world through the eyes of people more qualified than myself to understand and explain what is going on in particular domains. Although Twitter lists were a great way to collect people who provide those insights, I used them very little. Prompted by Martin Fowler’s frustration with lists, I outlined my first steps in reviving the technique in Lists and People at Mastodon.

I first encapsulated the relevant APIs in a couple of tables provided by the Steampipe plugin for Mastodon: mastodon_list and mastodon_list_account. I then used those boards to improve the Mastodon board in various ways. He followers and following The tabs now show me who is or is not on a list.

following with lists IDG

and i can use the list tab to read recent posts from people on each list.

mastodon list tab IDG

With these building blocks in place, I want to be more intentional in the selection of these lists. To that end, I thought I’d share the lists I’ve created so far and invite suggestions. You can export your lists from the Mastodon web client using Preferences -> Data Export -> Lists. The resulting CSV file has two columns: the name of a list and the Mastodon identifier of a person.

List Person

Here is the export you really wanted.

List Person Server url Note
Library liza Technologist in Residence at Harvard Library Innovation Lab. Interactive fiction, generative art, democratic political technology. Scholar fond of fringe utopian science fiction. I’m going to pet your dog.
Library alexwade Librarian, open science advocate, geek. Vice President of Data Products, @digitalscience (Seattle, WA) Formerly: AllenAI (AI2), CZI, Amazon, Microsoft Research, UW
Library by jdiff Head of the Library Technology Services Section, NLM. Opinions are my own.

It’s easy to create such a list using the Steampipe plugin for Mastodon.

steampipe query “select title as list, username, server, qualified_instance_account_url, note from mastodon_list l join mastodon_list_account a on = a.list_id order by list, username” –csv output > mastodon_lists.csv

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(I’m using instance-qualified URLs relative to my main server. If your home is somewhere other than, you’ll want to adjust the links accordingly.)

I have uploaded the result of that query to a google sheet. The newest addition to my climate list is Peter Gleick, who was quoted yesterday in Farhad Manjoo’s What Will ‘Weather Whiplash’ Mean for California? I had been looking for an expert perspective on California water policy, so I checked to see if Peter is in Mastodon, found out that he is, and added him to my climate list. Here’s an example of the kind of perspective I’m looking for.

California’s reservoirs have captured enough water from recent storms to supply all urban water use in the state for one year. Not counting the huge layer of snow. Those claims that “all the water that flows into the ocean is being wasted” is nonsense. — Mastodon Link

Of course it’s a complex subject, and I don’t think I’m wrong to be very interested in strategies to capture more rain and use it to recharge aquifers. But this was a useful reality check.

Who are the experts you follow in various domains? Can I choose from your lists? Can we imagine a way to remix and share these lists? I’m looking at you, Lucas Gonze, with fond memories of how Webjay did that for MP3 playlists. Can we do that for the Mastodon charts as well?

These series:

  1. Autonomy, pack size, friction, fanout and speed
  2. Create a Mastodon panel with Steampipe
  3. Navigating the fediverse
  4. A Bloomberg terminal for Mastodon
  5. Create your own Mastodon UX
  6. Lists and people on Mastodon
  7. How many people on my Mastodon feed also tweeted today?
  8. Qualified Mastodon URLs per instance
  9. Mastodon Ratio Charts
  10. Working with Mastodon lists
  11. Images considered harmful (sometimes)
  12. Mapping the broader fediverse

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