Oh that social media

Maybe it would be a better strategy to just write short blog posts instead of posting to social media. I existed for years without social media and it was fine. Walking to the mall was a thing that happened. People had snacks at the food court. Nobody took any photos of that experience. It just sort of happened. I have a vivid memory of standing in a basement and listening to the album Bleach by Nirvana. We just listened to the music and nobody posted a single thing about it. Things were just different and I’m not entirely sure it was not better. Maybe it is some type of nostalgia or maybe social media is just not all that social these days. At the start of the blogging adventure I read blogs and knew people from their writing. It was different and more personal. Even some meetups happened with people getting together to talk about writing in person. That is probably something that I actually do miss. Getting together with a bunch of writers at some random bar or restaurant probably is something I should have appreciated more at the time. 

This little bit of a post is really just about my thoughts related to shifting back over to engaging in more long form writing and giving up micro blogging. I mean really most of my writing efforts would probably just be 500 word blocks of prose that were created in the moment and published without a whole lot of editing or revision. Literally, I just open a word process document and write for a bit before cutting and pasting that content over to be published out to a weblog. In this case, it gets published out to my weblog. 


You can certainly catch my weblog post feed and it still functions in the same way it always has. The latest post is at the top and you can read on to see what happened before. It has no real continuity between posts or anything that would really make it more connected than it having to be shared in the order in which it was written. Each blog post is effectively followed by another one and that goes on for hundreds of them. Ok that does not really tell the story of it going on for thousands of them spanning decades of content. 

Thinking about social networks

My social media presence includes Twitter, LinkedIn, and Substack. The other day I did login to Facebook, but that was more a one off than anything social media related. For the most part LinkedIn is a type of currated living resume vs. any type of real social network. Some people do seem to use it in a more social way, but that is rare. Maybe it can be in some ways viewed as a replacement to the business pages of the phonebook. 

A note on phonebooks: In the olden days we used to get physically printed lists of phone numbers delivered on paper to the door of homes. This was not voluntary and it included a special section or sometimes an entirely separate book for business phone numbers. If this post is being far enough into the future that phone numbers are inherently confusing as a concept, then you should probably just skip this post and read something else. Anyway, LinkedIn is a very odd look into the way people want to be seen online in a busines context. 

Twitter on the other hand is really just an open town square of some loud, but mostly inconsequential utterances. The vast majority of tweets are seen by very few people and are of little consequence. You do get a feel for what the crowd is thinking or doing at any given moment, but it is at times highly chaotic. I keep thinking that a curated section will develop where the most powerful of the blue check marks will assemble into an echo chamber of thought experiments. That has not really happened in any sustained or meaningful way.

Thinking about my social media usage

This post happens to be all about rethinking my social media usage. Back on April 4, 2018, I stopped using Facebook. Right now I do use Twitter and LinkedIn. Both of those applications are in my startup tabs for the Chrome internet browser. That means that every time I open Chrome on my Chromebook or this Windows 10 computer both of those applications open up. Doing that means they are right in my field of view and they both generally get some attention. I use both applications in very different ways. LinkedIn is generally a place where I just check the alerts and messages before moving on. Based on whatever algorithm they use for interest they suggest a few posts that I should read or that I might be interested in consuming. Generally speaking I follow the suggestions of the algorithm and take a glance at the content. For the most part it points me at things that I find interesting. Scrolling through LinkedIn generally is not something that is worth my time and I find it to be disjointed anyway. It would be easy to just focus on consuming LinkedIn one day a week instead of on a daily basis. For most people I’m not sure there is any real benefit to being a daily active LinkedIn user. 

My experience with Twitter has been a little different over the years. Generally I do not encounter anything toxic in my feed. The people that I follow share scholarly content and thoughts about machine learning or artificial intelligence. It is highly disjointed as a communication medium. I pickup the feed in chronological order and only see very small parts of the overall stream at any one time. That means that I have no context of the importance or amplification of any one thing in the stream. Based on where I started and stopped reading I could miss something really valuable or be totally unaware of some type of drama. Given that I do not engage in academic drama of any kind that is not really a problem. When academics decide to fight in public sometimes I will get my popcorn and read the back and forth, but for the most part I figure they should focus that energy on publishing papers. Nothing serves as a zinger like publishing work that contradicts, disproves, or generally questions your rival. That is far more impactful than a furious Tweetstorm that will dissipate into oblivion within days. On a side note I did have to verify that Tweetstorm was a single word. Apparently, it is a somewhat commonly used word. 

Somehow I totally forgot about YouTube. Over the years I have made a few videos on YouTube and it does have a comment section where people do engage. For the most part my engagement on YouTube is to enter comments and push the like button on videos that seemed interesting. I know that both comments and likes help content creators to amplify their videos based on algorithmic sharing. To that end I generally try to write unique comments and engage to support the content creator. That is not really social media in my mind it is amplification of content. Given that it involves my name and is on a media platform it has been included in this diatribe about social media usage. That seems to be appropriate. It could at some point in the future be more social in nature, but at the moment it is rather here and gone in terms of focus and attention.

Rethinking social media usage

Given enough time on the internet people tend to get to the point where they are ready to rethink their social media usage. Some folks never will rethink posting an endless string of photos, but all the rest of it has a certain quality to it that makes you wonder. My social media usage is down to really just Twitter and LinkedIn. I’m not going to count my weblog posts as social media usage. Nothing about them is inherently social. They are akin to posting a note in a public space. Very few people ever read that prose. Oddly enough that is fine with me. For the most part my efforts to engage in writing are really in the purest form a merging of thinking out loud and practicing the fine art of putting words to paper or in this case keystrokes to screen. I’m so awake right now this weblog post might even get proof read before it is posted. We just made it to March 2020. That is really interesting to think about. My formative years rested around Y2K and the transition from 1999 to 2000. Twenty years stand between now and then with a wide range of things that have happened.

Wandering the internet

This is a recording of my blog from December 7, 2019

Today, I booted up this morning with two shots of espresso and a little bit of wandering (I really wanted to type wonder here, but landed on wander) around the internet. After over a week, I am logging into Twitter today. At the start of that login, the folks over at Twitter wanted me to follow some topics. I assume this is to help cross pollinate user experiences to get more conversations going. Initially, I decided to follow Guitar, Artificial Intelligence, and Data Science. I almost followed Space and Astronomy, but decided maybe I would circle back to that one later on down the road after more wandering around the internet. 

The reason I got back on Twitter today was to share a Tweet about watching, “When GANs Go Wrong – This Week in Google 537.” My hiadius from Twitter lasted from November 27 to December 6. My primary use case for Twitter is to just keep track of the online content I consume in terms of papers, articles, podcasts, and videos. That will be starting up again today I guess probably without any fanfare or anything relatively interesting beyond a little bit of wonder (it took me 194 words to finally work into the correct usage of that word). This next cup of coffee is going to help get things going today toward a positive purpose.

My big plans for the day include trying to finish up one of those Architecting with Google Kubernetes Engine courses, hanging up some lights outside, and setting up a Google Nest camera outside. Those things should be pretty fun to work on throughout the day. This cup of coffee is helping nudge me toward a few Coursera videos and maybe a lab sessions this morning. The one part of the experience that I really like and I think it is the part that keeps me coming back to learn on the platform are those course sessions with a lab.