I have two new opeds about what Musk’s ongoing evisceration of Twitter has taught us, or at least me:
From CIGI: Musk’s Ascendancy Reveals Our Vulnerability to Fickle US Platforms (November 17)
At The Conversation: What Elon Musk’s destruction of Twitter tells us about the future of social media (November 21)
You can probably figure out what I’m on about in the CIGI piece from the title. In The Conversation article, I highlight four lessons I’ve taken from all this nonsense:
- The dismantling of a site that many people found very useful offers us a chance to reflect on what, exactly, we got out of Twitter, to go along with all the bad things (which I also highlight here). For me, it was the ability to reach across communities that would otherwise be relatively isolated, even online. Academics typically talk to academics, but it was (mostly) good that it was easy for journalists and politicians to eavesdrop on our conversations.
- While the tech world and internet governance celebrates instability and innovation, Twitter’s slow demise shows how the rest of us could benefit from some stability.
- We need to start thinking seriously about different funding models for social media, in particular public funding and support for social media, à la CBC. Fenwick McKelvey and Robert W. Gehl have some very interesting ideas on this point.
- Alongside social media, we really need to talk about whether our current search engines (Read: Google) are fit for purpose, and what we should do about that.
As for me, as I’ve already mentioned, I’ve deactivated my main Twitter account. I still have a lightly used and even-more-lightly followed, music-focused secondary account that I’m using to check in on the crumbling empire, but I won’t be going back. I have a Mastodon account I set up a while back, but this Musk nonsense has me thinking I’ll be taking a break from social media. Most likely, I’ll wait to see where the academic community ends up and go from there.