I am using Instagram for quite a while now. Mainly not for posting pictures of nice little puppies, but for using it as a showcase. As one of my hobbies is Photography - which often comes along with Traveling - there are always lovely pics I want to share. Lately, I discovered a strange ratio when swiping through my Instagram-timeline: As we all know the service was acquired by Facebook in 2012 and transformed over the years. Monetizing by advertising seems to be the focus now and therefore I see an ad after seeing three "normal" pictures of the people, services and accounts I am interested in.
So far, so good - so what?
I like Instagram and I did always like it but at the moment, frustration comes up. I understand that each platform needs a certain kind of advertising but with Instagram in 2019, it's just too much: One third of my timeline is "polluted" by ads that Instagram has suggested to me according to some algorithms that work in the background. For example, I want to swipe through pics showing San Francisco, Scotland or the UK without any breaks but this is just fiction nowadays. Apparently I am not the only one who feels this way so alternatives are popping out of the many dimensions the World Wide Web has to offer.
The most famous one is - seen from my point of view - Pixelfed by Canadian developer Daniel "dansup". Pixelfed is yet another element of the "Fediverse", a de-centralized collaboration of many servers and services, all having the ActivityPub-protocol in common. This protocol is already known for delivering the backbone for many other services, amongst them is surely "Mastodon" just to name it. Mentioning Mastodon, this is yet another story be told on another day so let's stick to Pixelfed now. It looks like Instagram, it (mostly) feels like Instagram but it's de-centralised, ad-free and can be run on one of your own servers. Servers that are within your control - with all duties and risks like maintenance, backups and troubleshooting of course.
Although the deployment of Pixelfed changes nearly daily (you may use a "git pull" or Composer), it is a nice way to make things you complain about different. The result of the deployment, the currently changing documentation and some strange behaviours from build to build show that it is still work in progress. There is a lot to do, though - and after the 0.9 branch Pixelfed will turn to 0.10. You see, there is space for improvement by all means but optically it feels a lot like Instagram. Besides, the GitHub-repository as well as the issue-tracker are well-visited so why don't you give it a try?
As I said, Pixelfed is work in progress and is far being from ready - but the first steps being made show that it can turn out to be a great alternative. An alternative that is supporting the ActivityPub-protocol so that you may search for users of Pixelfed straight from your Mastodon-instance and vice versa. Interesting? For sure. Meant for production use? Not yet. But check back here soon as I am going to show you a small tutorial how you may build your own instance!