Razib Khan One-stop-shopping for all of my content

May 18, 2017

Notes on my social media fast

Filed under: Facebook,Social Media,twitter — Razib Khan @ 9:19 pm

I turned on StayFocused last Thursday and set it for a week. I locked myself out of Twitter and Facebook.

Because so many people now message via Twitter and Facebook I did check via Chrome on my phone once a day. But I didn’t check the stream of messages at all.

Obviously a lot has happened in the news over the past week. Being off Twitter meant I found out about thinks a bit more slowly. But that’s OK.

I’m back on Twitter. But I am not going to reinstall it on my phone. I try and be accessible to people and respond to them…but over the years it has gotten too much. I get tagged in so many conversations. From now on I’m much more likely to ignore them.

There are still things Twitter is useful for. Things I want to say that are easier to say there. But most of the “conversations” are not worth it. Many of them are circle-jerks. In other cases a sincere person like Nicholas Christakis has to show almost Job-like patience with others who don’t play by rules of fairness and charity.

Facebook is a different case. I don’t use it to chatter with people. Rather, I post about my children or what I’m eating. I like baby pictures and see what’s happening in peoples’ lives who I know in some way. I missed it, but not that much. But I also now think it is far less toxic (in part because I’ve “trained” Facebook not to show me all the political arguments and such). I think this week has given me insight into why Facebook is so much more popular and valuable than Twitter.

On the balance when it comes to intellectual discourse, I think Twitter has made things worse.

April 4, 2017

Planning for a post-Twitter world

Filed under: twitter — Razib Khan @ 6:51 am

I’ve made it clear that I think we may be headed for a post-Twitter world sooner rather than later. It’s user base has been plateauing for a while. Perhaps Twitter will go into a slow decline, and eventually be relegated to a niche utility, rather like MySpace. In Twitter’s case its utility for breaking news and journalists seems clear.

Recently a friend of mine who is a professor who studies evolution mentioned offhand that he was seeing a decline in the corner of Twitter where we’re active…let’s say the genetics/genomics/evolutionary genetics network. Thinking about it I think he is correct.

When I first got on Twitter I used it 90% to auto-tweet posts from my blog. But eventually I got sucked into a conversation on topics of professional interest, primarily relating to genomics technologies and applications. As genomicists are already usually on a computer, they took to Twitter very early. This is still evident on the Life Sciences Top 100 list.

Many of those vibrant and nuanced conversations don’t happen anymore. Why? I notice many people who not only don’t tweet much, but have protected their account. Twitter is an open medium and tsunamis of mob action occasionally percolate into the science chatter. Social justice commissars on the Left and alt-right Nazis on the Right are always waiting and watching in the wings, ready to pounce and saturate your timeline. Why would any normal person subject themselves to this? Better to keep a low profile.

So what’s the future? Some, such as myself, have always had a blog presence. Over time I may use my blog in different ways. Imagine, for example, a personal Twitter-like sidebar where quick notes and observations could be posted to complement the primary content. Additionally, I’m trying to diversify. I’ve always had the Feedburner Feed, but not everyone uses RSS anymore, and who knows how long Google will support Feedburner? That’s one reason I’ve been trying to grow my e-list, as e-mail looks likely to stick around for a while.

Finally, I’m pretty focused on continuing this blog where I have control of the platform and the technical details. That means more work for me, and probably less traffic. But as the future proceeds I’m pretty certain that there’s going to be disruption of the normal channels of media distribution, as conventional media’s prestige declines. Best to control the means of your production.

 

October 15, 2012

Twitter is not declining

Filed under: Technology,twitter — Razib Khan @ 11:09 pm

The Decline and Fall of Twitter?:

Even Twitter? Can Twitter be declining? Over at the Atlantic‘s Technology Channel I note that my own Twitter conversations are not quite as dynamic as they once were, and speculate about why that might be. I didn’t say this in the post, but I wonder whether it might have something to do with people who enjoy online conversations also enjoying new tools and toys: perhaps we get tired of Twitter not because it has a deficiency, but just because it’s been around a while. I’m not suggesting this in lieu of the explanations I offer there, but in addition to them.

I think this is an artifact of the fact that Alan Jacobs seems to have been a very early Twitter adopter. Here’s Google Trends for the USA for searches for Twitter:

November 28, 2011

Has twitter peaked?

Filed under: Technology,twitter — Razib Khan @ 8:19 pm

I hadn’t given the issue much thought, but that’ what Randall Parker asserted in the comments below.

First, let’s look at Google Trends search traffic with Facebook as well:

Facebook dwarfs twitter, so you can’t tell. So with only twitter:


Interesting. Now let’s look with Alexa:

It’s a little more ambiguous using Google Trends estimate of unique visitors:

Finally, Site Analytics:

August 6, 2011

Real life interaction is a feature, not a bug

Filed under: Cognitive Science,Facebook,Google,Social web,Technology,twitter — Razib Khan @ 12:03 pm

The prince of neurobloggers Jonah Lehrer has a good if curious column up at the Wall Street Journal, Social Networks Can’t Replace Socializing. He concludes:

This doesn’t mean that we should stop socializing on the web. But it does suggest that we reconsider the purpose of our online networks. For too long, we’ve imagined technology as a potential substitute for our analog life, as if the phone or Google+ might let us avoid the hassle of getting together in person.

But that won’t happen anytime soon: There is simply too much value in face-to-face contact, in all the body language and implicit information that doesn’t translate to the Internet. (As Mr. Glaeser notes, “Millions of years of evolution have made us into machines for learning from the people next to us.”) Perhaps that’s why Google+ traffic is already declining and the number of American Facebook users has contracted in recent months.

These limitations suggest that the winner of the social network wars won’t be the network that feels the most realistic. Instead of being a substitute for old-fashioned socializing, this network will focus on becoming a better supplement, amplifying the advantages of talking in person.

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