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The Decay of Twitter by Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic


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Wondering if Joyce stirred this up ....

That is an amazingly dope picture to illustrate Twitter's demise. Sometimes overeducated essayists can be quite witty!

It wasn't me, Geege! There's quite a bit of evidence that Twitter is doubling down on their "pop stars and sporting events" strategy, which hasn't worked after years of trying and in fact doesn't even seem to be working that well for Snapchat any more either. What's the definition of insanity... ?

Oh I KNOW THIS ONE!  But "doing the same thing, expecting different results" is also "believing a blog strategy can be static."  Bloggers are ephemeral, fickle, easily bored, seek novelty.  I don't know how you pivot, pivot, pivot without eventually doing a 360.

The Atlantic article hypothesizes that Twitter the network is self limiting by being public and quotable out of context:

Do other things get smooshed on Twitter? Definitely. The public and the privatesmoosh, as do the personal and professional. I’d even argue that subjectivity and objectivity get smooshed—consider the Especially Serious Journalists who note that “RTs are not endorsements.” But understanding Twitter as an online space that, for a long time, drew its energy from the tension between orality and literacy, and that—in its mid-life—has moved more decisively toward one over the other, works for me as a model of its collapse.

This tension also explains, to me, why the more visual social networks have stayed fun and vibrant even as the text-based ones have not. Vine, Pinterest, and Instagram don’t traffic in words, which can be reduced to identity-based magnum opi, but in images, which are a little harder to smoosh. Visual conversations have stayed chatty, in other words.

When I emailed Stewart to ask about these ideas, though, she wasn’t as sure.

“I think that has as much to do with cultural norms of the platforms and particularly with media usage/surveillance of the platforms,” she said. “I’m not sure Twitter’s volatility is inherent to Twitter’s use of the written word so much as it's how Twitter relates to the written word.”

She continued:

I think visibility has a lot to do with it. Media surveillance of Twitter to create (not just disseminate) news, the way hashtags allow strangers to gather and galvanize over areas of shared interest, the fact that the stream or feed is made up of a constant flow of discrete speech acts with limited context […]—all these things made it feel like a powder keg in hot weather a year ago. 

Now, it’s just Twitter. It’s a space where all contexts are collapsed and all ideas can be mob-amplified or end up pulled for a Buzzfeed article. And I’ve adjusted accordingly and I am careful about what I say and some of that is good because frankly the world does not need to hear me pronounce on every single thing I don’t know much about. Twitter’s affordances still render it powerful—but that very power and capacity to curry visibility, both within its own space and within broader media spaces, also render it challenging. 

In the final paragraphs of this article, let me assert something I have very little data to support: At some point early last year, the standard knock against Twitter—which had long ceased to be “I don’t want to know what someone’s eating for lunch”—became “I don’t want everyone to see what I have to say.” The public knows about conversation smoosh, and that constitutes, I think, a major problem for Twitter the Company. New products like Moments—which collects tweets, images, and video into little summaries—are not going to fix that.

I’m not sure anything can fix it, honestly. But I wonder if Twitter can’t arrange a de-smooshing, at least a little bit, by creating more forms of private-ness on the site. Separating the private and the public could, in turn, delineate “speech-like” and “print-like” tweets. Twitter’s offered locked accounts for a long time, but it has always been default public. (For a few early years, a pane on Twitter.com displayed every tweet.) Making it so an individual tweet’s publicness can be toggled on or off might help users feel more comfortable spending time there. And pushing new users toward secret accounts that can toggle individual tweets public might even allay some of their fears.