andrew burke





Social Media's 2023 Shuffle, And Back to Blogging?

Posted on: 2023-07-24

So over the weekend, Elon Musk had another manic episode and decided, like many other owners of flailing, failing companies, that a rebrand is what's needed. He's decided to rename Twitter to "X", featuring a logo that seems to have been ripped off from XWindows for UNIX. It's far from the worst thing he's done to Twitter, but I think it's finally time I get off of there. A decade of heavy curation of my feeds on Twitter means that I still often find interesting things when I check it, but I can't justify spending much more time there, and certainly not posting anymore.

I'll miss a lot of the people there, but hopefully they'll follow me elsewhere.

Elsewhere, at this point in mid-2023, means several things:

Mastodon ( is the anarchist, tech-heavy, federated, decentralized take on 'microblogging'. It's had a surge in the last year or so as Twitter got progressively worse. I use the Ice Cubes client for it, which is as close to the feeling of old Twitterrific as I've been able to find. Most importantly, it remembers where I last was in the (chronological, non-algorithmic) timeline, so I don't miss anything. On Mastodon, I see every post. This makes me curate things more intensely - especially turning off 'boosts' (retweets) from the more prolific over-sharers out there. Since it's not owned by a single person or even corporation, Mastodon is unlikely to be disappearing in some reorganization or fit of CEO narcissism, it'll just keep trundling along at some scale or another. As a life-long EMACS user, this feels like a safe place. That said, Mastodon can tend towards the earnest and dry.

If Mastodon sometimes feels like eating organic high-fiber sugar-free granola because it's Good For You Threads (@ajlburke) is more like hitting up McDonald's for some fries and nuggets. The only timeline available is extremely algorithmic, but it's fun to dip into every so often and see what's up. I don't pretend that it's necessarily good for me, but I could certainly do much worse. Threads is currently pretty free of screaming fascists, and there aren't any ads yet, and in just a few weeks it's got far more people, and far more fun people than Mastodon had accumulated over several years.

There's also BlueSky, but I never got an invite while it was fun, and Jack is a weird guy with suspect politics, and I suspect Threads has taken a lot of the wind from its sails.

The biggest change in my habits from this shuffling of social media is I've gone back to RSS feeds, just like it's 2006 again. Some sites have been doing this all along (hello DaringFireball) and I've also discovered that you can get an RSS feed from any Substack account and most parts of Medium as well. I'm using Feedly for this, which is fine, even if it keeps trying to be some kind of corporate intelligence service, which is sort of annoying.

In the spirit of RSS, I'm going to try to get back into blogging again, after a long hiatus. As an English major, I've tended to think about each blog post as a finely refined essay, requiring lots of rethinks and edits over several days, which often made it just too much work for me to do. Instead, I'm going to take in more of the spirit of Twitter etc and try to write something up and post it quickly. Ideally I can build up some habits of regular writing, on my own site(s) and on my own terms. Check here and at Shindigital for more posts in the coming days and weeks. Of course I'll be sharing them to my various social accounts, maybe even Twitter ... for now.

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