Tag Archives: Twitter

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I don’t like Twitter threads.

In most cases, if something takes more space than one or two tweets to say, it’s easier to read as an article. It’s especially bad with very long threads, and those that aren’t crafted to make each tweet a unit. When sentences continue on from one tweet to the next as if they’re only line breaks, it makes it hard to pick out a statement to highlight, or where to start.

On the plus side: Tweets are more likely to be seen, more easily shared, and people can interact as they’re posted, like a live conversation. A thread that’s crafted to fit in 140-character chunks has a rhythm to it, like a daily comic strip collection vs. a comic book. And an unplanned tweetstorm gives both the writer a chance to get their ideas down quickly and the reader a chance to see them unfiltered.

Compared to an article, a tweetstorm provides immediacy, and any Twitter thread provides reach. But they’re still a pain to read.

Also written (of course) as this twitter thread.

Why am I still blogging? (And why about this stuff?)

This blog has been around 15 years. Social media has mostly moved on, to silos like Facebook and Twitter. People don’t follow random personal blogs. Topic-focused sites are what people actually read, and even that mainly following links from silos.

Meanwhile there are so many major things going on that make the things I post about here — comics, fandom, photos of things I found interesting, random tech thoughts — seem trivial.

So why keep a blog going? And why write about trivialities, and not big things like the battles over civil rights, healthcare, environmental protections, war?

As for the first: Some of it is stubbornness. And some of it is wanting to keep part of my writing/photo presence somewhere “permanent” (to the extent that anything online is).

As for the second: I’ve never really liked talking news and politics online. I rarely feel like I can add anything that hasn’t already been said (probably better) by someone else. Also, online conversation has gotten way too toxic. On the other hand, while the little things may be trivial, they add up. They add up to your life. It feels like I might actually have something to say that’s not already been said a thousand times by people more familiar with the issue than I am.

Plus it’s a way to assert some normality in a world that feels decidedly abnormal.

I’m not likely to come up with anything super-profound on the most important topics, but I can make short statements, and I can amplify other voices. And I’m trying to come to grips with the fact that that’s important. I’ve been reading a lot more and posting a lot less over the past year or so, but even if I can’t say anything profound, I shouldn’t stay silent.

So I’ve been microblogging, and linking, and reposting — all things that are better suited for a service that’s built around those use cases. When I have something longer to say, I do try to pull it in here, because a blog post is better than a Twitter thread… But I think more people probably see my retweets than my blog posts, anyway.

What makes online posts feel “permanent?”

Facebook is testing a feature to hide new posts from your timeline so they don’t feel so permanent. Of course they’re still searchable until you actually delete them, so they’re still permanent in that sense.

What’s odd: Facebook posts don’t feel permanent to begin with, even though they effectively stick around forever.

Thinking about it, two things make an internet post feel permanent to me:

  1. Can I count on it sticking around?
  2. Can I count on finding it again?

Facebook, despite a lot of improvements over the years, is a mess. The newsfeed algorithm means you can’t just keep scrolling back. The timeline view isn’t reliably complete. Search is kind of a crap shoot. Don’t get me started on trying to find a particular old post on Twitter!

And that’s dealing with sites I can expect to stay online over time. A post on a forum, or a comment on someone else’s blog, or any social network could easily vanish in someone’s server crash or business shutdown.

If I can’t count on being able to find what I post a few years down the line, it feels like it’s temporary, even if it isn’t.

This is one reason that my Flickr portfolio feels more permanent than my Instagram photos: I can find them without resorting to third-party apps. If I want to find a particular photo on Instagram, I have to page down through my profile until I find it. On Flickr, I can find a 10-year-old photo of a fountain in seconds by searching for “fountain” and expanding the “Your photos” section of the results.

Then again, running my own site is only reliable as long as I can afford it. If something happens to me, and I can’t pay for hosting anymore, what then? I figure I’d simplify things down to where I could get a basic, super-cheap hosting plan. Make the blogs read-only so they can be served statically from a shared server or S3 bucket, or move them to WordPress.com, or just be willing to let them crash under load. But what if I’m incapacitated and can’t convert it? Or just plain not there anymore? If I really want to keep my corner of the web up “permanently,” I’m going to have to make a plan ahead of time.

Otherwise my carefully preserved photos, articles, and extended musings will be toast…leaving behind as context only broken links and all my supposedly (but not really) ephemeral offhand remarks on Twitter and Facebook.

I “Liked” Twitter Favorites

It shouldn’t make any difference that Twitter renamed Favorites★ as Likes♥. It’s a coat of paint. But labels do matter. Just like “friend” and “follower”, “like” and “favorite” (and hearts and stars) conjure up different expectations.

Twitter says, “You might like a lot of things, but not everything can be your favorite.” Paradoxically, I find “likes” to be more specific. The star-and-favorite model comes out of Internet Explorer*, and modern browsers still use stars for bookmarks. This made “favorite” seem a little more versatile, anything from a stamp of approval to a simple check-back-for-later.

“Like,” on the other hand….

After years of requests for a “dislike” button, Facebook finally admitted that “like” isn’t sufficient to respond to everything, and will be expanding to multiple reaction buttons. I know Twitter keeps trying to be more like Facebook, but c’mon — even Facebook knows people don’t want to “like” sad news.

*Microsoft didn’t want to call their bookmarks “bookmarks.” Nobody wanted to use the same terminology as anyone else back then. They tried to call links “shortcuts” too.

Delicious, Twitter, and Linkblogging

The classic link-sharing site Delicious is still around, trying to find a niche in the new social media world. One of the things they’ve recently done is set up a way to import all links you post on Twitter. It does a historical import when you link the account, and then pulls in new tweets going forward.

It’s a cool idea, depending on how you use the sites, and they’ve made it just flexible enough that anyone who might want to do this in the first place will find a way to match their use case.

In my case, I mainly used Delicious as an additional bookmark store that I could access across browsers and accounts, though for the most part that’s been replaced by Xmarks. I haven’t used it as much for deliberate sharing, though I’ve posted the occasional link in the hopes that someone might notice it.

Anyway, I linked it up with my personal Twitter account, left the site for a few hours, then came back to see just how far back it had imported. It went back about 3 years, pulling in over 1,000 links that I’d posted to Twitter.

The Good:

  • It merges duplicates.
  • Links are backdated to the day you posted the tweet.
  • All imported links are tagged with “from twitter” (you can change this), making it easy to filter.
  • Hashtags are imported as tags.
  • The text of your tweet becomes the comment.
  • It extracts titles and thumbnail images from the links.
  • It can follow some redirectors, including Twitter’s own t.co.

The Bad:

  • It doesn’t follow all redirectors. There are an awful lot of bit.ly and is.gd links in there.
  • That also means that if I tweeted the same link twice using different link shorteners, it doesn’t resolve the duplicates.
  • A lot of those links were only of short term interest.
  • Three years is plenty of time for a redirector (or, of course, a target link) to shut down. Fortunately, it looks like I didn’t use tr.im much.
  • My blog automatically tweets links to new posts, which means every post I’ve made in the last three years is in there – the earliest with an is.gd or tinyurl link, the later ones with bit.ly. I don’t need those in my own bookmarks (with a few exceptions), and as far as sharing goes, it makes me feel spammy to plug three years’ worth of backlist at once.
  • Searching for links gives you less-functional results than simply looking at your list or filtering by tag. Not all details appear on the results page, bulk actions aren’t available, and you can’t always delete a link if you edit it from search results. This meant I couldn’t, for instance, search for “New post” or “K-Squared Ramblings,” skim the titles and bulk-delete the bookmarks to my own content.

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been taking a few minutes here and there to go through what started as 60 pages’ worth of imported links, delete the ones I don’t want to keep and fix up the ones I do. It started out faster than my last Twitter-related cleanup project, but that’s because there were a lot of auto-posted links I could just delete without taking the time to evaluate or label them. It’s already slowing down.

I could just leave all the clutter there, but part of the point is for this to be my bookmarks-away-from-home, and it’s easier to find stuff without the extra junk.

On the plus side, between this and the broken link cleanup, I’m getting to see a bunch of old posts and photos I’d forgotten about. That’s been an interesting process.

It’s also convinced me that linkblogging round-ups really don’t belong on this blog. I still do them on Speed Force, but that’s in part because Speed Force has readers who don’t follow the social networks. (OK, let’s be honest: because Speed Force has readers.) Here, where it’s just a personal site, I’m better off sticking with the best medium for each post. That means Twitter, Facebook and Google+ for short posts (barring a few categories that I’ve got history here, like license plate spotting), the blog for longer posts, and social networks for link sharing.