Now that the Twitter sale is complete, I’ve decided it’s time for me to hit the pause on that account. This isn’t the first time I’ve done this on social media - it’s something I do on other platforms pretty often, for a variety of reasons.
This time feels different. It hurts, and it’s not something I really want to do. I’m just not convinced it can pull itself out of a seemingly inevitable slip into full-on hellscape given the new hubristic leadership.
Twitter Means A Lot
After some reflection, I’ve realized I owe a lot to Twitter.
I’ve made a LOT of friends on Twitter. It was foundational in expanding my connection to real people - moving beyond abstract identities in blogs, news, and other mediums and being able to connect (and become friends with) some of those people. It’s been an important source of connection during the pandemic, and staying anchored to a sense of connection and community.
I’ve built some really cool stuff on Twitter. Before Waze and other mapping applications became prominent, I built a service called Corridor Commute that crowdsourced traffic updates in Eastern Iowa. The service used Twitter as it’s primary interface - both for contributors and subscribers. The service was regularly credited on local radio and news in broadcast updates and alerts. Heck, they wrote about it in the paper, too :)
Building something like Corridor Commute was only possible because of the inspriration I gained from Twitter. I started building iOS and Mac apps after seeing what others were doing and having my own ideas take hold. I learned a lot by following long-time Mac developers who were making the jump to the new platform. Their support and encouragement was foundational to becoming proficient enough to make a career change.
I owe at least one of my previous jobs to connections I made on Twitter. Everyone claims that LinkedIn is the “professional” network, but I’ve gotten zero jobs through networking there. I found NSDrinking on Twitter attended shortly after moving to Austin, which ultimately led to me working at Mutual Mobile.
Outside of the personal misgivings I have about Twitter’s future, I’m looking forward to trying something different. I’ve been using Mastodon intermittently over the summer, and I’ve seen quite a few benefits from it. Early on, I was impressed with features like content warnings, the community’s consistent use of image alt text, and the ability to migrate to different servers.
I started following some people that posted a lot about retro computing, which has rekindled my interest in retro gaming as well. This isn’t a unique experience to Mastodon, but it has reminded me that perspective expansion is important. My Twitter experience was pretty narrow.
Some people have quipped that Mastodon is merely another version of App.net, doomed to the same fate. I disagree. ADN’s goal was to be a platform for building services, the first of which was Twitter-like. Mastondon, however, doesn’t seem to be aimed at being a generalized timeline platform - it’s a federated social network capable of participating in a true ecosystem. ADN’s promise was a centralized service with an open API, but Mastodon’s is participation in an open source ecosystem of services that work together.
ADN was also a startup, motivated by growth and required to pursue eventual commercial value for its owners.
I’m a strong believer in original ethos of the internet: open protocols used by inter-operating services. Those services need multiple implementations and organic exploring into how they work and how their content is made accessible. Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Slack, and Discord move us away from true openness. Too much content is locked away in proprietary platforms.
Will the Ask Apple content be indexed and archived somewhere? This feels like extremely important info to have locked away in Slack 🤔— @firstname.lastname@example.org (@thaddeus) October 21, 2022
I’m excited to see how federated social platforms like Mastodon evolve. Their promise of allowing people to build applications and compatible services like Micro.blog is so encouraging to me.
Obviously nobody knows, and much will be written in the coming days and weeks. I hope my friends who work at Twitter are able to navigate the situation in a way that is most beneficial to them individually, and as teams and groups friends I’m sure they’ve become at the company. I hope for their sake, things stabilize quickly.
I hope people who have been displaced from Twitter-past or other networks because of their hateful, dishonest, or dangerous speech find no home on Twitter-future. If Twitter devolves to a place that welcomes them, I hope its future is short. 🔥
So I’m hitting pause. Hopefully things work out. If they do, I may be back. Hopefully something better will come along.
October 28, 2022
I’ve been almost completely read-only on Facebook for years. It remains the sole platform for connection to our neighborhood group, which I fortunately only need to peek in on a couple times a month. ↩︎