The return of a useable Twitter

A few things have aligned recently to make Twitter very much useable again. This is great (I think) because I’ve been riding that line where I almost quit Twitter for quite a while.

First, Google started their Digital Wellbeing beta for Pixel users. This allowed me to set a daily limit of 30 minutes on the Twitter app, which has been great at lessening the overall amount of time I spend on Twitter.

During the first few weeks I hit the 30 minute mark every day. At that point the app closes and the phone doesn’t let me access it again until 12am. Recently, my habit of casually opening the app during free moments has started to go away and I find myself with only 15 or 20 minutes of total activity.

Granted, this doesn’t take into account browser activity on my laptop, but it does go a long way in reducing that reliance on Twitter to fill short blank moments throughout the day.

Second, a couple weeks ago Twitter made changes for people that had chosen not to “show the best tweets first”. Now, after disabling that setting, I don’t see any algorithmic “so and so liked this” tweets or the out-of-order tweets from earlier in the day.

Finally, Twitter (for me) has returned to a reverse chronological display of things that people I follow have tweeted.

And third! Thanks to a great post from Glitch, I learned of an excellent bot made by Julia Evans that will turn off all retweets on Twitter. This setting is available to you by default for each of the people that you follow. The bot goes through all of them automatically and changes the setting to disabled.

Now I only see things that people have actually posted on Twitter rather than “engaged” with via the over-present UI for retweeting and liking things.

The combination of these three things has made Twitter reach the point where I’m actually looking for people to follow again rather than continuing to reduce the number. Imagine the world!

Headed to WordCamp Vancouver and HighEdWeb 2018

October is a busy month!

First, WordCamp Vancouver returns. It’s only been gone a year, but I’m pretty sure it’s my most consistent camp—this will be my 6th—and it’s where I gave my first talk, 6 years ago to the day! I’m looking forward to hanging out for a few days with good friends and spending some time co-working.

Then, after a short break, it’s down to Sacramento for my first HighEdWeb conference. I expect to see a bunch of familiar faces from the WordPress community and it will be fun to break outside the bubble a bit to see what other web technologies are used throughout higher education.

And—now that Steve and I are both full-time at Happy Prime—it will be fun to not have to juggle both roles and approach things instead as a full-time business owner!

Looking forward to seeing everyone. Drop me a note if you want to grab a coffee/beer. 🍻

Viktor E. Frankl on freedom

Freedom, however, is not the last word. Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth. Freedom is but the negative aspect of the whole phenomenon whose positive aspect is responsibleness. In fact, freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness. That is why I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.

Viktor E. Frankl in Man’s Search for Meaning

I finished my first read of Man’s Search for Meaning last week. Somehow this book managed to stay off my radar until late last year. Ever since then it’s come up again and again as an example of a book that heavily influenced someone, so I was excited to finally get around to it. It’s always surprising when you first hear of something that everyone else seems to know about already.

Of the many interesting ideas Frankl expresses, the above quote has stood out strongly for me over the last few days. I’ve specifically tried to apply it to freedom of speech in the context of today’s social networks and how they are managed. It quickly bleeds over into the ethics of our technologies, what we build, and how it is used.

I don’t think there are any easy conclusions here, but it does seem worth thinking through. I’m looking forward to a future reread.