Mastodon is a new social network, heavily inspired by Twitter but with a few differences: tweets are called toots, it’s populated by tusksome mammals instead of little birds, and it’s designed to run in a decentralised manner – anyone can set up their own ‘instance’ and connect to everyone else using the GNU Social protocol.
Colin Wright and I both jumped on the bandwagon fairly early on, and realised it might be just the thing for mathematicians who want to be social: the 500 character limit leaves plenty of room for good thinkin’, and the open-source software means you can finally achieve the ultimate dream of maths on the web: LaTeX rendering!
So, we’ve set up our own Mastodon instance, and given it the nifty name of mathstodon.xyz. I’ve got to say I’m pretty pleased with that bit of punning.
I added MathJax straight away so we could toot notation, and changed our web interface to use the Computer Modern fonts for that extra mathsy touch. I also set up a bot to toot a daily entry from my Interesting Esoterica collection, taking full advantage of the larger character limit to include abstractss as well as links to the papers.
However, a social network lives and dies by the network effect, so now we need to attract other people to join our glorious mathematical chat-topia. So, to get to the point of this post, to provide an easy way in to Mathstodon we’ve come up with a challenge: write the best #proofinatoot. With 500 characters of space and all the typesetting power of LaTeX, the world is your very oyster.
Here’s a classic of the form, to show you what’s possible:
Get your thinking hat on, head over to mathstodon.xyz, and wow us with your most concisely persuasive proof in a toot. In the spirit of free software we don’t have a real prize to give away, but the proof we judge to be most tootematical will go on the instance’s front page to greet new users.
If you do join in, this guide to Mastodon will help you get your head round the slightly different way of working, and here’s a list of accounts on mathstodon.xyz that you might want to follow:
- @christianp – Me!
- @ColinTheMathmo – Colin Wright
- @aperiodical – The Aperiodical
- @henryseg – Henry Segerman
- @esoterica – Daily Interesting Esoterica toots
- @pecnut – Adam Townsend
See you there!