Don’t think twitter and i are going to stay friends for much longer… which is a real shame because up until recently it has been a really useful tool for keeping up / reconnecting with friends around the world.
To me twitter is a fairly private place* – i have a private account and have had since day one, only follow people that i know or are posting things that will be relevant, automatically prune my tweets with a month long moving window, am cautious about accepting new follow requests. Consequently my interactions with celebrities, brands, clickbaiters and other assorted scum of the earth is greatly limited.
Having curated my set of follows over time it has become a reliable means to keep up with what friends are doing (many of which live far far away), a feed of research happenings (mostly security and climate change related), and an “important” events feed (earthquakes, prime ministers fucking pigs, that sort of thing…)
That has all worked really well for a while. And then recently it stopped being so frictionless. At first it was just the website, but that was alright because the iPad client was still nice and simple. Then promoted tweets started coming up in the iPad feed… first i blocked all of them, then i started reporting them as spam. That was followed by ‘who to follow’ (otherwise known as, “fuck off! stop being creepy!”) and ‘while you were away’ (are there people too stupid to manage a timeline?). And, then i deleted it.
Which left me with the Mac client. When the App Store update for that one came i made a backup of the current client, and have been steadfastly refusing to be tricked into getting rid of the “1 update to apply” flash on the icon.
Eventually that client is going to stop working, and the only way forward from that point is deleting my account!
Obviously there are plenty of twitter replacements, but i know from past experience that it’s pretty much impossible to get any level of engagement on those platforms. Something new will come along, catch the zeitgeist, and we’ll do this whole rollercoaster ride again.
Which brings me back to the original question: what is twitter doing?!
Well, in the grand traditional of silicon valley startups, obviously they are attempting ‘monetise their user-base’. The people running the company now are not the same as those who put the original idea out there – they are long gone, and busy frittering away more money than they can ever reasonably be expected to spend in a lifetime on coming up with the “next big thing”. Which leaves us, the user-base, to deal with a wave of vultures all attempt to cash in before the collapse. Short-term profit over all.
* this is probably an oddly considered use of twitter, or any SNS for that matter, but to me the wide open dash for followers / following is far more bizarre. In what social situation would you make connections and express your thoughts to almost complete strangers. What is normal about having hundreds / thousands of “friends” that you don’t know?
The situation is obviously different if your engagement with twitter is for promotion, information dissemination, performance, art, etc. but purely personal accounts? Odd.