Hello. My name is Bix.

Blogging from a mediocre life. Moving soon to Micro.blog.

How do we attain justice when we are deciding to throw up our hands and wait for the president to “self-impeach?” These women know that, while Pelosi’s wealth and Whiteness can act as her shield against Trump’s most egregious executive orders and policy maneuvers, they and their constituents don’t have that luxury nor do they have the time. When asked what, if anything, the Speaker was going to do about the recent allegations of rape made by author E. Jean Carroll against the president, her response was “what can Congress do?” This is not only outrageous but unacceptable.

From Is Nancy Pelosi the ‘White Moderate’ MLK Warned Us About? by Danielle Moodie-Mills

#Politics #Highlights #September2019

Earlier this evening, David Gasca, product manager at Twitter, announced that next week is “hack week” at the company. “What would you build,” he asked, “to improve conversations on Twitter?” I've been following Gasca, and a number of other Twitter employees, ever since Arielle Pardes' epic thread from a wide-ranging conversation at Twitter last month.

My initial suggestions will be familiar in light of all the things I've posted here about finding ways to instill more “friction” on our social media platforms. Among them: eliminating engagement counts, providing tools allowing users to control who does and who does not get to participate in replies to their tweets (an expansion of Twitter's author-moderated replies being tested in Canada), and the ability for users to self-organize into their own Twitter groups in a a sort of internal analogue to different Mastodon instances.

On that last, I argued, Twitter simply is too big at this point. If users could login to Twitter and be in a sort of “home community timeline”, a kind of safe space and home base from which to engage with the larger Twitter community and experience, perhaps that might provide a greater sense both of responsibility and control. Perhaps these chosen community timelines then could also (to borrow a term) “federate” internally on Twitter with other communities, creating shared timelines between or amongst them.

Gasca's reply: “Totally.”

To be clear, what I am not talking about here is Twitter's apparent push to allow users to follow topics in addition to following people. I'm talking about, in a way, something of a fundamental reorganization of the Twitter experience for those who want it: establishing the tools for users to create their own Twitter communities which would be subject not just to Twitter's wider community standards but in fact could construct their own and enforce them for its own members.

The “federation” model (which most people know, if they know it at all, from Mastodon) really is what I'm talking about but in the absence of literally breaking up Twitter into physically separate instances like in true federation, I think this sort of virtual internal federation is the way to go.

It's difficult to envision. Perhaps it would work much like Mastodon instances running forks such as Hometown which institute a “local-only” posting layer which vanilla Mastodon lacks, where you'd have to set the audience for each tweet as you go: some local-only, some private, some open to the entire network. Or perhaps a Twitter user could log in and literally spend their entire session just in a “local-only” mode consisting of their home community and/or any allied communities to which it's been linked, and never even look at the wider Twitter universe.

There'd be lots of details like that to work out. Personally, I like the latter model better, since you could just immerse yourself in that local community. But there'd be ways when browsing and engaging with the wider Twitter community to share things you find there just to your home-base community rather than publicly on your open timeline.

Like I said, it'd require a fundamental shift on the part of Twitter in terms of what service it thinks it's providing. I do think that if they were willing to made such a radical movie, certainly no user should be required to set up or be a part of a home-base community. You should be able to continue having the typical Twitter experience if that's what you prefer.

I'm just thinking that if users had the ability to have shared but private conversations—think of it like a group that is locked the way an individual Twitter account can be locked—people could feel a sense of security and a sense of ownership. Not, of course, over the service, but over their own experiences on it.

Maybe that's the thing that Twitter the experience is missing, and that Twitter the company missed. Communities require buy-in from their members, and they require some sort of emotional investment. Twitter users frequently have emotional investments in each other, but it's difficult to maintain that kind of investment in or as a group because Twitter can be so treacherous, often with no real safe place to retreat and be refreshed except by logging off.

What if the Home timeline really was just that: a home each Twitter user could make for themselves, with their friends or their family or their chosen family or whatever kind and size of group they wished, that no one else could touch except by invitation?

ETA: I got so carried away with the above that I forgot to reiterate something I've said before a number of times now: “Do away with likes in favor of highlighting. Do away with retweets in favor of commenting. Interaction over indication. Expression over excitation.”

#Community #SocialMedia #Web #September2019

Richard MacManus, of ReadWriteWeb fame, has an interesting analysis of email newsletter subscribers that gets into the question of whether or not people are willing to pony up for paid subscriptions, and if so to what are those willing customers subscribing, exactly. He talks a bit about the idea of “subscription fatigue” and as I've wondered before if “you could subscribe to all of The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Medium for $17/month” why would you instead spend more than that to subscribe, for example, to just five SubStack newsletters? You've got to have a lot of casual cash sitting around to subscribe to anything more than a couple.

#Business #Internet #Web #September2019

It feels insane to write this down, but let the record show that “pedo guy” is not a common insult used in South Africa. When you are in South Africa and you call someone a “pedo guy,” what you are doing is suggesting that they are a pedophile.

From “Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it.” by Rosa Lyster

#Language #Nonsense #Highlights #September2019

U.S. Forest Service fire lookout Philip Connors is right that “[e]very culture should have a couple of outsiders bringing a message from outside of the dominant culture” but I'm not sure an old white guy sitting atop a tower in a forest is really outside the dominant culture. That said, Nathan Rott's profile of Connors (via Digg) is a nice little look at the vocation and the ways in which it's being impacted by new technology. Once upon a time, long ago, I think after reading some Kerouac book (probably The Dharma Bums), I briefly flirted with following in his footsteps, but I don't think I would have managed very well.

#Nature #Technology #September2019

Socialists of the kind Chait and Goldberg imagine existing in the Democratic Party, which is to say Stalinists or Maoists (for God’s sake!), do not believe in the democratic process. They do not respect republican principles. They do not value representative government, majority rule, individual freedom, civil rights or all the many things Americans take for granted as natural and good. In other words, socialists of the kind Chait and Goldberg imagine existing don’t exist—not in the Democratic Party.

From There Are No 'Socialists' in the Democratic Party by John Stoehr

#Politics #Highlights #September2019

Why am I unsurprised that Dave Winer is defending both Shane Gillis and Richard Stallman despite the former's racist “comedy” and the latter's Jeffrey Epstein apologia? Winer himself has this weird history where despite how much credit he's gotten for his work, there's always this ugly undercurrent where he suggests that he hasn't gotten his due, and threaded throughout is a self-righteous sense that people who criticize him are being unfair and they should just be thankful for all he's done, or at least keep quiet when he's being some sort of a dick out of respect for the good he's done. He believes, in other words, that there's some set of allowances that accrue from doing good works that are meant to give you a free pass for the bad that you do. What I don't get is that this attitude makes sense of his defense of Stallman (although, you know, not really, because rape apologist), but it hardly applies to Gillis, who just was out there making racist remarks on podcasts.

#Abuse #Men #Nonsense #PopCulture #Technology #September2019

Not for nothing, these interview tips from Katherine Breward for dealing with autistic applicants mostly also are good advice for any interaction you might have with someone you know is an actually-autistic person.

#Autism #September2019

Preparations are underway for my move from Write.as to Micro.blog. I've been going back and forth, mentally, for the entire time, and having finally gotten to tinker with customizations over there, it's going to happen. It could still be a couple of weeks out, as I've got some work to do regarding importing my Write.as posts over there, and also because while the process finally is underway for my getting ahold of a reserved three-character .blog domain, that's going to take a week or so to get finalized. That said, I'll be keeping my eye on the public reader feed here, since there are some interesting people coming through Write.as.

#Blogging #Meta #September2019

There's so many people rethinking blogging lately, whether they've been doing it since the golden age, were around back then but stopped somewhere along the way since, or are relatively new to it, and almost all of them are talking about consideration and context. They're talking about friction.

“In an age where the shortness and speed of content, of hot takes and clickbait,” writes Adam Tinworth (via Colin Devroe), “there's still a role for slower, more considered writing.” Tinworth is responding in part to Justin Paterno's thoughts, whose “golden age” routine will strike anyone around back then as disturbingly familiar.

He's not wrong that “90% of the game back then was showing up” and I think perhaps also is not wrong that “the scarcity now is resist the urge to instantly engage”. There's plenty of room for both, but for me the trick is going to be “showing up” without worrying about whether or not anyone is here reading this.

#Blogging #Nostalgia #SocialMedia #September2019