Have We Reached the 1000th Cut?

Last December I wrote a thing about Twitter. And then in January another thing because it seemed like Elon was determined to make Twitter a slow death by a thousand cuts.

Today they rebranded it as 'X'. blink

A choice quote from CEO Linda Yaccarino

X is the future state of unlimited interactivity – centered in audio, video, messaging, payments/banking – creating a global marketplace for ideas, goods, services, and opportunities. Powered by AI, X will connect us all in ways we're just beginning to imagine.

The pinnacle of corporate word salad. No one fucking wants this. You're taking the one remaining thing Twitter had going for it, the brand, and flushing it down the toilet.

M.G. Siegler's take

Twitter, as we knew it, is dead.

All of this sucks. I loved Twitter. But the bird is dead. In its place is some weird, spiraling viral network where the content pushed to you has no unifying principle beyond maybe just having the opposite ideological bent of the content that proliferated before it. This is basically Bizzaro Twitter. It's so fucking weird. It's like a literal version of the scene in The Dark Knight where The Joker lights the massive pile of money on fire and walks away. Except that amount of money clearly wasn't $45 billion. This is.

You know what, this does suck. Twitter the service was so very good. Until it wasn't. Elon fucking Musk everyone.

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Death By A Thousand Cuts

Back in December I wrote about Twitter and Mastodon lamenting the possible demise of the service I've grown to love; and noting we have that Mastodon lifeboat to climb in if such a demise came to pass.

Time passed. Idiotic management decisions aside, Twitter still held together. Sure the tech folk I follow have abandoned Twitter in favor of Mastodon but like 85% of the people I follow are still there. So I've been trying to better allocate time to switch between both services.

And things were mostly fine.

Well, until today.

Last night around 11pm ET, Tweetbot and Twitterrific stopped working, with authentication errors. They're still down, as are other popular clients. Twitter has said nothing, either publicly or in communications to the affected developers, so your guess is as good as mine whether this is an unintended outage from Twitter's skeleton crew staff or a strategic decision to pull the plug on third-party clients.

The API is still functional so this was a selective and intentional targeting of third-party clients. I've been a happy Tweetbot user for years and this is an incredible poke in the eye and fuck you to the developer community.

The Twitter experience was always so much better with no algorithmic timeline, no promoted tweets. Just chronological order like the good lord intended. So I've installed the official Twitter iOS client today and it's…not great? Look at all those ads and "hey add your birthday to your profile" messages interspersed with actual Tweets. Yay.

So this is another death cut for me. Only 994 left to go? But seriously, what to do from here? Unless everyone I follow on Twitter also jumps ship I'll still want to hang around and interact with Twitter peeps. A social network lives and dies by who's there. What a sad sorry state of affairs.

Fucking Elon Musk, that guy has a lot to answer for.

Social Media Attention Span

With Elon buying Twitter and offering a masterclass of clusterfuck management, predictions of its demise were abound. Some people I follow abandoned ship and fled to Mastodon. Some hedged their bets and started posting on both services.

I like Mastodon and its decentralized nature is very cool technology. I created an account back in 2017 presumably the last time there was a Twitter kerfuffle. And I posted a couple things there during this latest one. Very quickly it became apparent that keeping track of both services was going to be tricky. On my best days I find it hard to keep up with just Twitter.

So a bit of a fork in the road has occurred. A social media service lives and dies by where the people you follow are. And for right now, that's still Twitter. So for the time being my focus will be there. But at least Mastodon is a thing that we could get into the Twitter lifeboat and sail to if the need arises.

To that end I'm at @kevinspencer@mastodon.cloud.

On Twitter

There have been some rumblings about Twitter of late.  A lot of discontent with their seeming inability or unwillingness to address the abuse problem.  I myself have found it slightly less fun to use than it was in the beginning.  Partly the reason why I unfollowed all of political Twitter the other week.  Just done with the negativity.

There's been a push to show Twitter a lesson, leave and use something like Mastodon instead?  I get it.  Every few years there's a kerfuffle and the new shiny is touted as the way to go.  I mentioned:

If my timeline is to be believed, people are angry and leaving Twitter this week. It's noble. But I've seen this movie before, and it's called Ello.— Kevin Spencer (@kevin_spencer) August 17, 2018

At the weekend Simon Willison had an idea.

How about if, instead of ditching Twitter for Mastodon, we all start blogging and subscribing to each other's Atom feeds again instead? The original distributed social network could still work pretty well if we actually start using it— Simon Willison (@simonw) August 18, 2018

It's great.  A lot of people are a little put off by the idea of "blogging" in the who has time to write & consume long form posts sense.  But nothing says you have to write long form posts.   Short post-lettes from your blogging software of choice sounds like a great start.

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Quality Not Quantity

For a few days I decided to consume less Twitter. And you know what, it wasn't bad. Life went on. Twitter "the experience" hadn't felt quite right for months. Taking a break for a few days and coming back to it I immediately knew what the problem was. Political Twitter had become exhausting.

I'll admit I've officially reached peak Trump fatigue. I don't want to wade through all the outrage retweets. I just don't want to read about it anymore full stop. Any change you make in your life should be for the positive and make you happy. And so, I took a hatchet to political Twitter and unfollowed the entire echo chamber.

What remains are all the things I enjoy reading. And that's what it should be about anyway.

Using Twitter

The other day I stumbled across an interesting clique on Twitter. It all started when I chuckled at this Artic Monkeys tweet.

"I wonder if there's more where that came from", after all political Twitter is all a bit depressing and I'm suffering from Trump outrage fatigue. Having a few more things that make me chuckle surely can't be a bad thing.

Enter constant comedy retweet Twitter.

These users all follow each other and retweet each other constantly all day. The only things they ever post are little jokey snippets in an attempt to out-funny each other. They're all on favstar and earn "trophies" for the number of likes and retweets. Their timelines are so polluted with retweets that they all add a URL to their profile consisting of a Twitter search for themselves minus retweets.

Because the accounts are all so samey with almost identical profiles, I thought they were bots. But now I'm not so sure. They're all super enthusiastic at what they're doing, some of them have 20-30k followers and to them this is their Twitter experience.

I thought it was mildly amusing for a bit and did get a couple of chuckles. But it's relentless and never ending. I didn't look at my phone for an hour and came back to 397 unread items in my timeline. Today I unfollowed all of them.

There are hundreds of accounts to use as an example so here are a random set.


So there's that.

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On Twitter

Twitter rolled out support for 280 characters to everyone yesterday. Well, to be fair, they added it to their web interface. Their official Mac app hasn't had any love since May so only 140 characters available there still. Of any improvement they could have possibly made, doubling the length of posts not something that gets me excited.

Twitter: What do you want?
Users: Ban nazis.
Twitter: 280 characters it is!

I don't want Twitter to become a blogging platform. Part of its charm and success has been those 140 characters. It forces brevity, posts are easy and fun to write, and even easier to consume. My brain is starting to gloss over the longer tweets now. Thankfully 90% of my timeline respects a more civilized time.

And what's with that circle countdown thinger in the 280 character UI?