Thursday, August 15, 2019

Twitter Follies and Our Digital Dystopia

A couple of weeks ago, Twitter locked my account over this tweet:

As far as I can tell, this tweet violated no rules, nor did the block notice tell me what rule I had violated. There was literally a blank line in the notice where the violation was supposed to be.

After waiting two weeks with no action on an appeal, I deleted the tweet (it can live on here for all time, or until the people running Blogger have a similar attack of whimsy.) This is a minor irritation, but it does focus one's mind on the fact that large areas of the public commons -- places where art, politics, propaganda and rebellion happen -- are in the hands of a tiny number of technology companies.

These companies' very size pushes them towards a conservative (small "c") orientation because, like network television of old, they are free services offered to a mass audience. Services like that tend to succeed by being liked by many people and hated by no one -- which is, in the long run, a surefire recipe for mediocrity.

Television stopped sucking when operators like HBO and Netflix created a competing model in which, due to the dynamics of subscription services, lots of people could hate a thing, but if a reasonable number of people loved it enough to keep sending their subscription fee, you could offend, bore, or outrage a bunch of people on the margins. And that is why Three's Company and The Wire are very different kinds of art.

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and their rivals are free, mass-market services -- more Friends than BoJack Horseman. And if we're going to continue to organize, advertize, and solipsize online -- and what is the alternative? -- that is going to be a problem.

1 comment:

  1. Locked out of twitter... never mind. I think twitter is bad for the soul. Here's a bit of reading to pass your time...
    https://thestandard.org.nz/farrar-peddles-climate-change-denial-nonsense/#comment-1520473
    https://thestandard.org.nz/farrar-peddles-climate-change-denial-nonsense/#comment-1521081
    https://thestandard.org.nz/we-need-to-push-back-on-leighton-smith/#comment-1523235
    http://www.drroyspencer.com/2013/05/time-for-the-slayers-to-put-up-or-shut-up/#comment-78670
    https://theconversation.com/heatwave-completely-obliterated-the-record-for-europes-hottest-ever-june-119801#comment_1986691
    Cheers and enjoy,
    Mack.
    Sky Dragon Slayer's Chief Public Relations Officer.

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