Word is that Twitter is selling out to Elon Musk, whose (speculated) plans for the platform are not especially encouraging. On the one hand, Twitter privately owned by a “free-speech absolutist” may not be appreciably less pleasant for a person like me than Twitter as a publicly traded company with some nominal interest in the experience of users besides Elon Musk. On the other hand, this is as good an excuse as any to take a step back and see if I can, finally, log off.
I’m not deleting my account — not yet — but I’m going to see if I can’t get back to something like my online behavior from the era before Twitter was my first social login of the day. Way back in the Obama administration, I posted to this blog (actually, its incarnation on, yikes, Blogger) multiple times a week. I didn’t break my thoughts up into pithy little snippets, or plan longer discussions in strings of 280-character sentences. I just … wrote.
I also followed a whole constellation of people doing the same kind of thing, on Blogger and WordPress and hand-coded sites where they paid for the hosting or accepted some advertising alongside their posts. It was a social network before we all added buttons imploring readers to Tweet and Like and post to Reddit. It wasn’t great in a lot of respects, but you could in fact find people in their online homes and subscribe with your RSS reader and follow what they were writing about without wading through a real-time-updating comments section on the state of the world. It was decentralized and — with many caveats about technology access and the administrative headaches of comment sections — more democratic than what had come before.
Can I get back into that mode? We’ll see. This post is for accountability and goal-setting. I’ve had to go digging for a nice RSS reader to replace the late, lamented Google News — Reeder seems like a solid choice for Mac, and it’s been a smooth, pleasantly designed experience so far as I’m starting to rebuild my subscriptions list. I barely know who’s out there who might still be Science Blogging, but I’m going to dig around the remains of the old network and see whose links are still good.
I’m still at The Molecular Ecologist, of course — but that is (I hope) a more formal space. Denim and Tweed has always been, as it says in my Twitter bio, all me, baby. There’s an older motto I adopted for D&T back in its Blogger era, a spin on a line from a book I liked a lot at the time: ignoti sed non occulti. That’s (probably poor) Latin for “unknown but not hidden,” and that’s not a bad description for the old blogging life. I’m not clamoring for attention in the quasi-public square of the Twitter Timeline — but I’m here if you want to find me.