Letting go of all those tweets

My Twitter account has been flipped over to “Protect your Tweets” status. That is basically the privacy version of lockdown. I’m letting my blue checkmark expire on May 12 by canceling any renewal mechanism. Generally that action is being taken as the benefits of the program are not worth the expense at the moment. Outside of that scenario, I can confirm that the idea of completing that series of steps was harder to consider than the consequences of actually taking the actions. Participating in the great public commons that Twitter might have represented was a grand idea. Social media is not a shining city on any degree of hill. Mostly it was a promise of something that maybe could never have really been true in actual existence. I’m going back to blogging and just sharing thoughts that way in written form to an audience that mostly shows up from search engines.

I’m going to try to avoid spending large amounts of time on Twitter. My profile will remain and my 10,000 or more tweets still exist, but they are in that protected status.

It really feels like the delivery methods of the modern news media have become broken. It’s somewhat surprising that 15 million people use Feedly as an RSS reader. Google Reader has been gone for a while now (2013). I have spent some time the last couple of days thinking about how people consume news and where and when that attention is applied. 

You certainly are able to replace the act of tweeting with WordPress posts that generate a tweet during publication

You certainly are able to replace the act of tweeting with WordPress posts that generate a tweet during publication, but the process is a lot more work. That is probably the reason that most people would not use that methodology for posting. Other people have come to the same conclusion. I’m also pretty sure that the algorithm downranks the posts you send over that way. I’m going to really lean into building things with code. It does markedly increase the velocity of posting on the blog. I’m actually approaching 10,000 total tweets. Well I’m actually at 9,871 total tweets since March of 2009. The number of weblog posts that have been created in that same window happens to be 2,614. That number includes 1,201 published, 243 drafts, and 1,160 private posts. My velocity of tweeting was way higher than my general posting velocity. Certainly sending out tweets is a much easier thing to do than writing a more complex longer form missive. I’m not entirely sure why I ended up spending so much time today thinking about Twitter.

A return to blogging instead of tweeting

One of the things that I’m trying to accomplish is putting a bit more effort into writing short little missives instead of just dropping storms of tweets. I’m sure it is a function of the wildness that has been occurring recently on that platform. Things are starting to get a lot weirder in general outside in the macro-economy. Seriously, global economic interactions are getting a bit weirder than they used to be in the last 5 years. You would have to zoom way in from that thought to get to the reality of my whining about sending a few tweets. However, that is exactly where you are right now as you read these sentences on the old weblog. Instead of waiting to have larger missives I’m just going ahead and hitting publish on shorter writing sessions. That might increase the volume of blog posts going out, but that is fine. By fine I mean that I find it acceptable and thus the path is set on a go forward basis. 

One alternative I considered for a bit was to just write my tweets as the title of my weblog posts and let the integration push them over to Twitter. That would be an interesting way to go about sharing content on that social network. I do have the WordPress application on my phone and could make that plan a reality. It’s a lot more effort to build out a blog post. It requires categories, keywords, and both a title and body set of content. Those are not blocking factors of course they are just elements that require a little more time to make the plan work on an ongoing basis. It might be a good excuse to set more featured images on short posts. Overall, it is probably a bad plan to try to execute. I’m going to give it a little bit more consideration and you might see a few test posts to see how the practice of actually doing that works for me day to day. 

Most of the time the writing process is about using a keyboard and typing at my desk. Writing on my smartphone just does not work for me based on the tactile interaction and process overall. I did generate a quote for a System76 laptop this weekend. It’s printed out and sitting right next to me as I consider making the move away from my Google Pixelbook to a different type of laptop. The total number of laptops that I have owned in the last two decades is actually not a very large number. I tend to have them until they experience catastrophic failure and are replaced. That is probably the same sort of way other users interact with laptop technology. Nobody really just needs a stack of spare laptops sitting around.  

A weblog post or just my secret corner of the internet

Over the years some of the posts from this weblog get some traffic, but the vast majority of them do not really surface out on the internet. This is for all practical purposes this weblog is just my secret corner of the internet. This evening I’m sitting and wondering about what to do after I deleted 198,364 emails from my gmail account. Cleaning up that many emails was truly liberating. I did not need the emails and now they are gone. While I was busy cleaning up my email archive the entire universe of Twitter seemed to catch fire yet again. It appears that Substack got restricted on Twitter today. My weblog system still drops links over on Twitter. Nothing about that appears to be restricted. It’s really the only social media advertising that I keep providing. To that end I keep writing longer and longer titles for my weblog posts.

Consider what research trajectories to really deep dive

Yesterday I started to consider what research trajectories to really deep dive into this year. The next few weeks are going to be devoted to some literature reviews within the polling methodology space. That is an area where I want to dig in and see some contemporary research. I have some quality content written for the next couple of Substack posts, but that writing needs some time and attention to get it over the finish line. It’s the continued release of all these new models that keeps pulling my attention in other directions. Pacing these releases to any normal schedule would be impossible at this point. So many companies are trying to put forward chat enabled bots that it is nearly overwhelming. Right now I have been using the ChatGPT version from OpenAI and Google’s Bard. I’ll admit right now that the one that I interacted with over a longer duration was the OpenAI version. It has helped me write a couple of books that are passable. One on ethics in AI and the other about political debt. The one on AI ethics will show up in my Substack post today. 

One of the things that I have considered a bit is how I’m picking titles for these weblog posts. Given that the only social media they are shared on is Twitter as a single tweet. Maybe I should be crafting the title of the posts as a stand alone tweet. Right now a title is simply selected from some interesting block of words (more than 3) that were written as a part of the post. Over the long history of this blog a lot of good titles have been used and now we are at a point where generating unique ones is a bit more challenging. To that end it has become easier to just select from text a passable title and move along with the writing project. Recently, I have been highlighting where the title came from in bold text to help make that title selection reality a little bit more obvious to the reader. 

Tomorrow morning is going to be key in terms of recording and editing down a couple of Substack posts to get back on track in terms of a backlog. I had successfully worked ahead and now I’m back into a position where all the content that is complete will be published. Later today the last of the recorded and ready Substack editions will go out for publication. I have been working on the next ones of course and that content has had review and effort put into it, but none of it has been recorded. I have not had my microphone setup for the last two weekends making it harder to record high quality audio. I had considered trying to use my Pixel 7 Pro smartphone to do the recording, but it does not sound as good as the Yeti X microphone. A huge difference exists in the audio quality on those two microphone systems. One is markedly bigger than the other. The Yeti X is bigger than my phone to begin with and the microphone on a smartphone is exceedingly small as a component.

I have been sending out tweets for a really long time

Yesterday was one of those days that I was super duper disappointed in Twitter. Generally I don’t deal with a whole lot of trolling on the internet. Maybe that is just the long tail of statistical averages catching up with me. That is entirely possible. Maybe somebody was just having a bad day and I ended up having the tweet that caught all that emotion. It did not really emotionally impact me as much as it did surprise me that so many other people engage in the drama. Maybe that is the essence of Twitter and I just don’t see it very often. Most of my engagement is with technology, machine learning, or academic Twitter communities. Not only was it a strange day on Twitter, but it was also my 14th year anniversary on the platform. Apparently, I have been sending out tweets for a really long time.

For the most part tweets are functionally ephemeral; they occur and then fade away from attention. Sure somebody could really dig to go and find an old one, but practically they just fade away from the feed and that is that. I’m not entirely sure that I get anything from the 10-20 daily minutes I spend on Twitter. Maybe that time should be noted as entertainment time and it should be managed as such. My take on Twitter overall is that it happens to be an ephemeral platform. People will crowd to it as a source of first news given the overall reach and opportunity for people to actively report news. The barrier to entry on being able to report news is very low. Given the current state of local news coverage nationwide it is not entirely surprising that crowdsourcing news is a staple of modern coverage. That aspect of things will probably keep crowds of people flocking to the application to tweet and check tweets. To that end, unless some other platform shows up for people to report and share current events I imagine that Twitter will continue on in this current form for a while. 

It might be easier to just fip my Twitter profile over to private mode, but that would diminish engagement. Most of the time my engagements with others are positive. Overall I have been running my phone in the do not disturb mode for months now. People who are on my contacts list can call and break into my day. Otherwise it functionally shuts down all notifications, sounds, pings, or other indicators that some application wants my attention. In terms of getting deep work done and being more productive it has worked out really well. At one point, I had even considered getting one of those new flip type folding phones to really make it harder to activate the screen and engage. I might end up going an entirely different direction and getting one of the phones that sort of folds open and becomes a small tablet. That seems like a pretty decent use case for reading things. The price on those types of devices will probably be trending downward shortly as they have been on the market for a couple technology generations. 

Online gardens of paywalled content

Writing random missives on Twitter generates more views than a blog post gets at the moment. It is not even close in terms of a comparison. I just got done looking at the data and it made me wonder a little bit about the nature of the open internet. A lot of walled off gardens exist where people go to engage and are a user of the platform. Sometimes parts of the internet get extended to those gardens, but it is becoming more and more a garden of paywalled content. More and more publications that write stories either within the world of entertainment, information, or news open the door to a few free stories and then try to get users to cross over into the paywalled version of things. It’s a world of online gardens of paywalled content that is fundamentally different from a bunch of content being interconnected by really simple syndication (RSS) feeds. 

This blog for example has a large bulk of content from before 2014 that is set to private. Even my collection of online missives housed in this blog format has a section that is essentially paywalled. That wall has been built for an audience of one, but that does not make it anymore real as a segmentation against the open internet. That is perhaps the point I’m getting around to as we round out the second paragraph of this thought. Building out a functional search engine for the open internet seems like something that might be a good use of my time. Instead of focusing on all the online gardens of paywalled content that users cannot really access without being a subscriber of those services it might be easier to just help people get to other sources of content. Right now the picture I have in my mind is of delivering two sets of results from curated sets of sources while denoting that one list is essentially paywalled and the other is fundamentally not. 

You might be asking yourself if that is essentially my effort at building a really large RSS feed reader that is curated. I think that might very well be what I’m talking about. Building out my own personal really large RSS feed portal is probably a project that I could knock out this summer. Adding the searchable component to it would be a pretty lightweight extension. Overall the value inherent to the project would be my personal curation of the content. That would not be easily replicated as it is essentially a personally tailored news feed with some search extensibility. I may go look to see if I have a parked domain that could be used to house this project.

Dialing in a bit of focus on that writing plan

My social media strategy for the blog happens to be allowing WordPress to post a link to each missive directly on Twitter as a single Tweet. Yesterday it seemed like a good idea to post the nearly 4,000 characters of that post into a tweet right after that post. A total of 3 out of 24 viewers of the tweet expanded it to look at the longer post. For the most part I have tried to post a couple of longer tweets using that feature and the engagement has never been better due to having thousands of characters. Testing out new features is always a fun thing to do and I’m hopeful that Twtitter comes up with a bunch of them in the next few months. 

Right now at the start of my day I sat down to write another page or prose and to deeply consider the nature of what is being produced. My Substack efforts are essentially being packaged up as a manuscript at the end of the year. For better or worse that writing effort is essentially a weekly way to turn out a focused chapter of content. We are in the third year of that effort and it has worked out well enough. Right now 104 weeks of content were packed up on the topic of machine learning. This year the topics under consideration have broadened from machine learning to artificial intelligence (AI) in general. Next year at this time the manuscript that will go out will have a distinct AI focus with a few other topics mixed into that series. 

Some weeks will have topics that are adjacent to central topics in the AI series. A few things need to be flushed out to really dig deeper into what can be done with AI and how it will intersect with modernity. It’s that interaction of AI and modernity that deeply concerns me enough that I feel compelled to try to write about it on a regular basis. This might very well be the year that I complete my writing effort on producing a book about the intersection of technology and modernity. Getting that writing project produced and on the shelf next to me would be a true achievement of something on my writing plan. 

Overall you can tell that today is a bit about dialing in some focus on that writing plan and making sure that things are going down the right path. Getting to the point where each day of writing builds toward something and is a part of that writing plan is an important piece of the puzzle. I think the idea that with a little prompt engineering this post could be compiled within seconds where it took me dozens of minutes does give me pause. Today marks the second day in a row of producing a good amount of prose at the start of the day that was not really tied to anything special. I just sat down and tried to collect my thoughts. To that end this writing session was successful and posted. Fun times.

Working my original content creation plan for 2023

Very early this morning I sat down to work on my writing plan for 2023 and to write 5 longer form tweets that were full of original content. It has felt like Twitter needed some more original content. Instead of working toward writing a weblog post today, that is where I put my attention. Obviously, I decided to package all that up into a weblog post for good measure. This writing effort was part of an effort to mix things up a bit and write in a different way. 

  • This was actually a pretty productive morning. I sketched out a writing plan for about the next 25 weeks. As we move from 2022 to 2023, my primary weekly content creation is going to shift a bit from ML to a stronger AI focus and more content on modern polling methodologies.
  • Building original content within an ongoing narrative related to a specific theme or as a collection takes time. It’s ongoing and sustained. Sometimes the tipping point on that one is when the totality of the narrative becomes large enough it cannot be consumed anymore.
  • Working toward the edge of what is possible while bringing people along for the journey changes the nature of how the community in totality moves forward with that project. Within the summation of that community a general level of knowledge exists. That is a shared foundation.
  • So much opportunity for new business exists as we see the potential intersection of technology and modernity. Changing frontiers of technology are opening the door to all sorts of disruptions in operational patterns that create windows of advantage in markets that are developing.
  • Converting the backlog contained in a writing plan into action involves having a defined time for achieving that objective and a valid writing plan. My efforts to make that happen have been about waking up early and devoting a daily hour to writing.

I’m curious what would happen if I pushed out a few tweets like that on a daily basis. Most of the time the content that I share to Twitter involves links to things that I read and thought should be shared in the stream of things. More content exists in the Twitter stream that could ever be consumed by a single person. We have more signal in the stream than anybody could possibly sort out and that in some ways makes all that micro signal sharing into a general noise.

Getting back to carrying a backpack

My big plan for the moment is to share this weblog post over on Twitter using the social features of Jetpack. I’m going to click the radial button to, “Share the content of this post as a Twitter thread.” That is not really something that I do very often. Given that it is going to happen today, you are certainly more than welcome to enjoy this content as it gets broken up into seemingly random length tweets. Apparently, I have procured 9,159 tweets since March 2009. Clicking that button every time will certainly get me over the 10,000 tweet threshold. 

It has been years since my everyday travel involved a backpack. Throughout a decade of college courses that certainly happened. Carrying my laptop with me in a backpack used to be something that almost always happened. I have had a number of laptops over the years and I don’t even really recall all of them at this point. A few stand out like my Sony VAIO Laptop VGN-T250P, Dell Studio 1535, and HP Envy X2 laptops. Writing time could happen at any moment and I had to be ready. At some point, that type of need to carry a backpack just disappeared. For the most part being able to throw on a pair of noise canceling headphones and work from a laptop is delightful and very easy. At one point, it was a pair of wired headphones and they did not cancel noise or anything that fancy. With that setup pretty much any spot can quickly become the place that work is going to happen. 

All this talk about the pending demise of Twitter really made me start thinking about the days of carrying a backpack. It’s probably some type of nostalgia or something in this moment that made me start to reflect on things. People really do believe that as a social network platform Twitter might very well break this weekend. I’m not entirely sure that would really happen. The platform itself has been pretty well battle hardened over the years. I’m guessing it can run for some time with minimal support.