These kinds of algorithms optimize for engagement, and the quickest path to engagement is via the drugs outrage and anger — which require, and generate, bigger and bigger hits.
This is what Twitter and Facebook are about — but it’s not right for NetNewsWire. The app puts you in control. You choose the sites and blogs you want to read, and the app reliably shows you their articles sorted by time. That’s it.
I keep thinking about these tweets from Derek Powazek:
I’m not really watching Twitter these days, but haven’t gone so far as to delete my tweets. Since I mostly read (past tense) on Tweetbot and that’s going away, I have a bit more space between me and Twitter. Just in time too, because today is the day to stop reading twttr.
Mastodon is interesting. I am on a server at @firstname.lastname@example.org (3 toots this year!) but there are other Mastodon instances that kind of mean something. You can be on photog.social for a photo-specific feed, or mhz.social for ham radio. There are more.
I have different Slacks for different contexts. Slack for work, sure. My coworking Slack doubles as a local online community. That’s where I would ask for a plumber or electrician. I have a few Slack with friends and a few more. I’d probably be on some Discords too if I could ever figure out how their UI distinguishes between text and voice.
I’m reading more blogs too. My RSS reader isn’t a Skinner box, trying to mete out dopamine hits. It’s just a list of posts, in reverse chronological order. Like with Twitter, I’m focusing on people I know or would like to know, and who don’t post a million times a day.
A million years ago, I ran an Ann Arbor blog aggregator called ArborBlogs. It was basically a Planet site, showing all the posts from a curated list of blogs. Curation seems to be the key, and curation doesn’t scale. Is that a bug or a feature?
Maybe the way forward, away from toxic interactions and anonymous trolls, isn’t the public timeline but the small groups. Facebook’s need to connect everyone to everyone continues to be its cruel mission, but its groups are the thing that keeps people from leaving.
I’ve never been someone who looks at hashtags or trending topics on Twitter. Someone looks at that stuff, right? That’s the kind of thing that needs a giant public timeline, algorithmically pruned, collapsing all contexts. I’m looking for good stuff from people I know or would like to know. Introverts of the world: unite!
One of the interesting parts was a breakdown of how much Russian trolls got paid to disrupt LJ:
PJ: Emails actually leaked out later that had the rates that these guys were getting paid to troll Alexey and his friends. It would be 85 rubles for a comment, and then a bonus: 200 rubles if you could trick somebody into arguing with you.
That part reminded me of some stats on /r/The_Donald:
It turns out that the biggest growth in subscribers happened roughly 3 days after Donald Jr.’s Russian meeting.
Anyway, the point is that I’m going to see if I can import all my old LiveJournal posts here to make it even cringier.
I am going to try this new ‘blog thing. Again. With 1 percentage point more Crud.
Why? Partly because I was going through the archives of that other blog thinking “this isn’t as cringy as I expected.” Partly because email newsletters have peaked and I’m trying to get ahead of the next curve. But mostly because somewhere around 2004 Scott Wainstock said that blogging would die out by now and this is going to be a spite blog to prove him wrong.
No introductions should be really necessary at this point. This is the second post on the blog; if you’re reading it either you know me and what to expect from me, or you’re cyber-stalking me from the future and know what to expect from me.