Today, an incident reminded me how useful it would be that nomadic identity became widespread within the fediverse. I run a Mastodon instance. Or at least I ran one. But something went wrong during the last update and my backups were totally useless, I wasn't able to restore it.
Long story short, I installed a brand new instance, using the very same domain name and even the same ID. Some of the few followers I had did follow me again automatically, but not all of them. And I no longer followed anyone. And of course, all of my content was lost.
Fortunately, Mastodon is no vital for me. I follow a few dozens account which provide interesting content, but I can't really say I have a rich social life there. But I do understand some people can. So, if losing my account and my content is not a drama for me, it can be different for others. And that's when you remember how important the nomadic identity feature can be.
I'm not to used to make backups of the websites I run. I had a backup for my Mastodon instance, automatically created before the upgrade on my YunoHost server. Turns out, the backup could not be restored in one click as it should. I did a little search to see if I could solve the problem by myself, but soon gave up. I don't know anything about PostgreSQL. Not even how it is pronounced.
Anyhow I ended up reinstalling a new single-user instance, with none of my previous posts and no followers at all. I don't care. But if you are more into social networks than me, this probably sounds unacceptable. If on very rare occasions they are down, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter will probably not lose your content or your contacts. While shit like that can happen on a tiny fediverse server operated by a techie pal or a geeky cousin.
Selfhosting buffs like me don't have the skills of the army of IT workers who maintain the gigantic commercial social networks. If you have an account on my fediverse server, you can't trust that I'll be able to restore your online identity if something goes wrong. So there has to be a solution to protect your online identity from disappearing if the server it is tied to ends up crashing.
"Nomadic identity, duh." would say any Hubzilla or Zap family user. And that would be totally right. A solution exists that can make sure your online identity and data can be safe even if the server that hosts them vanishes someday. All it takes is having your account cloned on another server you trust. Piece of cake.
If Mastodon had the same feature, in addition to my main instance which runs in a VPS, I'd have a backup instance on a server at home. If my VPS instance had crashed like it did today, it would have been not only possible but also easy to restore my data. I really don't undestand why this kind of feature is not worked on as a main priority. Not that I think it's something easy to implement, but that would be so useful in a decentralized network.
Some may wonder why I reinstalled a Mastodon instance while I know it does not include such a cool feature. It lacks support for nomadic identity, and it's a shame, yes. But it has other cool features. Like those fancy smartphone apps such as Fedilab or Tusky. I know this could convince some of the many Facebook users I have among my closed ones to try something else. And, if you think about it, many people have a Facebook account AND an Instagram account AND a Twitter account AND a TikTok account, so why couldn't you have a Zot/Nomad account AND a Mastodon account?