Tangent — Please Keep Twitter Wild. Let the Bird Fly Free

September 5, 2014

twitter personalizationIt is bound to end soon, because Twitter is bent on making big bucks. It was inevitable when they made their IPO. But the somewhat chaotic nature of timelines and hashtags is a good thing — read that: it draws a lot of people to Twitter who in turn shake and move things. Take it away, and those same people may go somewhere else for their serendipity fix. What am I talking about? Right now what we follow is what we see in our timelines, but if Twitter starts algorithmically curating our timelines with no ability to opt out, it’s not going to be nearly so much fun. When Twitter starts thinking for us based on how we’ve thought before, i.e., based on our Twitter surfing, then the wonderful serendipity and certainly the ability to be exposed to other ways of thinking besides our own will be lost.

I mentioned this kind of thing* a few years ago. To be clear, I understand the need from an advertising standpoint. These companies have to make money to continue to provide us all the great content, but hell, isn’t there a happy medium so I’m not always fed exactly what a site thinks I want to see? How boring.

* Do yourself a favor and watch the video in that post.

edit: I retweeted this earlier today, but I want ensure it’s seen by all of you, and that you know I feel the same:

another edit:

Throttling my feed and not showing me everything is exactly why I got so tired of Facebook & can barely make myself go there- even though that’s where most of my RL friends are. Don’t decide for me what I want to see and (especially) not see!! Twitter already has the “Promote” thing and it doesn’t bother me, I can ignore or not. Right now, I like the setup of Twitter much better. — SH on the possible algorithmic curating of Twitter timeline

Tangent — Jacking with Meta

June 30, 2011

And for you techies, this may not be what you think. The video below addresses something everyone on the World Wide Web needs to know is happening so is well worth the nine minute’s investment to watch.

I chuckled a bit when Eli Pariser mentioned his political bent. He has been an integral part of Moveon.org, a very politically biased site. I do not agree with everything said there. I’m not sure I agree with everything said anywhere, but this never keeps me from listening to someone’s viewpoint, and I’m almost always wiser for having listened. And how sad if their visibility were diminished in my little world thereby making my world that much smaller. Oh, I’m all for personalization, but when it becomes a stumbling block to my ability to consider a bigger picture, it’s gone too far. And for what? Mostly to take advantage of niche marketing, i.e., the ability to sell me something whether it be a product, a service or an idea by appealing to my seeming interests keyed into a search engine. Oh, I’m not completely opposed to niche marketing, but I HATE when someone seeks to think for me in a way that limits my thinking, and it’s really insulting when it’s a machine. Hopefully, you watched the video, so all of this makes sense and my next words in particular will be in perspective.

Today, the only major information site that doesn’t personalize to the degree of Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. is Twitter. I would include Digg and Reddit, but they are being eclipsed by Twitter. So this makes Twitter a really important tool for the little guys — us. The beauty of the web has been this power to connect people who would not otherwise be able to find each other, and gatekeeper media sites have been fairly circumvented in this process, but now Google, et al are seeking to control where we go even more. Frankly, the mere mention of a gatekeeper hacks me off. Thankfully, Twitter is still powerful enough to overcome that kind of control because it’s mostly unfiltered, and therefore wild and unpredictable and beautiful in its ability to give us average people who have little or no professional connection with major media the power to potentially have impact. This is the main reason I like Twitter and would hate to see it go the way of the others. Hopefully, this makes it evident Twitter should not be dismissed as mere fluff.

It’s amazing to me how true is this adage: it’s not what you see or hear but what you don’t. I’ve told my kids this countless times in the hope they will learn to think outside the box by knowing that the box is invisible.

On a personal note, if I told you some of the influential people whom I’ve been able to converse with as a result of Twitter, you wouldn’t believe me. I could care less about name dropping, but I say this here to make the point that your voice can be heard on Twitter in ways you could have only dreamed about before.

edit: I’m putting the Richard Armitage and public service tags on this since this is “important” stuff in the fine art of Richard Armitage watching. :D