Tomorrow marks my 10th anniversary on Twitter. I have mixed feelings about the occasion. Twitter has been both a terrific success and a horrific failure. I've enjoyed it, I've discovered interesting people via Twitter and had some great interactions. I certainly prefer it to Facebook, but that's not a high benchmark.
Back in the early days I tried to engage with Twitter the way a hacker would. I worked out a scheme to archive my own tweets. I wrote a twitter bot. But Twitter became more and more hostile to that kind of interaction, so I no longer bother. Anything I put on Twitter I consider ephemeral. I've given up backing up my own tweets, conversations, or favourites. I deleted the bot. I keep a "sliding window" of recent tweets, outside of which I delete (via tweetdelete). My window started out a year wide; now it's down to three months.
Asides from the general hostility to third-parties wanting to build on the Twitter platform, they've also done a really poor job of managing bad actors. Of the the tools they do offer, they save the best for people with "verified" status: ostensibly a system for preventing fakes, now consider by some a status symbol. Twitter have done nothing to counter this, in fact they've actively encouraged it, by withdrawing it in at least one case from a notorious troll as an ad-hoc form of punishment. For the rest of us, the tools are woefully inadequate. If you find yourself on the receiving end of even a small pocket of bad attention, twitter becomes effectively unusable for hours or days on end. Finally troll-in-chief (and now President of the US) is inexplicably still permitted on Twitter despite repeatedly and egregiously violating their terms of service, demonstrating that there's different rules for some folks than the rest of us.
(By the way, I thoroughly recommend looking at Block Lists/Bots. I'm blocking thousands of accounts, although the system I've been using appears to have been abandoned. It might be worth a look at blocktogether.org; I intend to at some point.)
To some extent Twitter is responsible for—if not the death, the mortal wounding— of blogging. Back in the dim-and-distant, we'd write blog posts for the idle thoughts (e.g.), and they've migrated quite comfortably to tweets, but it seems to have had a sapping effect on people writing even longer-form stuff. Twitter isn't the only culprit: Google sunsetting Reader in 2013 was an even bigger blow, and I've still not managed to find something to replace it. (Plenty of alternatives exist; but the habit has died.)
One of the well-meaning, spontaneous things that came from the Twitter community was the notion of "Follow Friday": on Fridays, folks would nominate other interesting folks that you might like to follow. In that spirit, and wishing to try boost the idea of blogging again, I'd like to nominate some interesting blogs that you might enjoy. (Feel free to recommend me some more blogs to read in the comments!):
- Vicky Lai first came up on my radar via Her One Bag, documenting her nomadic lifestyle (Hello UltraNav keyboard, and Stanley travel mug!), but her main site is worth following, too. Most recently she's written up how she makes her twitter ephemeral using AWS Lambda.
- Alex Beal, who I have already mentioned.
- Chris Siebenmann, a UNIX systems administrator at the University of Toronto. Siebenmann's blog feels to me like it comes from a parallel Universe where I stuck it out as a sysadmin, and got institutional support to do the job justice (I didn't, and I didn't.)
- Darren Wilkinson writes about Statistics, computing, data science, Bayes, stochastic modelling, systems biology and bioinformatics
- Friend of the family Mina writes candidly and brilliantly about her journey beating Lymphoma as a new mum at Lymphoma, Raphi and me
- Ashley Pomeroy writes infrequently, eclectically (and surreally) on a range of topics, from the history of the Playstation 3, running old games on modern machines, photography and Thinkpads.
- Ted Unangst writes with clarity and explains some of the design decisions that have gone into OpenBSD. Sometimes I wish we could achieve similar things in Debian (as I wrote last November).
- I was probably the last person on Earth to discover Raymond Chen's (of Microsoft) "The Old New Thing".
Finally, a more pleasing decennial: this year marks 10 years since my first uploaded package for Debian.