On the Twitter Takeover

Like everyone else, I’m wondering how Elon Musk’s take-over of Twitter might affect the platform and the way we use it. Lots of my mutuals are talking about leaving the platform in response, some have moved on to Mastodon or started accounts there just in case, some have just gone off social media altogether, some want to wait and see. All the disgusting elements of the Internet are delighted, cheering that Musk will bring back Donald Trump and open the flood gates for all of the shit that has managed to be taken off the platform by its pretty flawed moderation systems. What is most likely to happen, I think is not nearly as good as some hope it will be, and likely not nearly as bad as some fear it will be. Musk doesn’t have an amazing track record of delivering on his overblown promises. But he’s also proven to be a petty and vindictive person, so we’ll see. Personally, I hope for the hilarious outcome of him losing his entire investment. To paraphrase a tweet I’d seen: we’ve done this to Tumblr after the Yahoo takeover, we can do it again.

Whatever the outcome, at the very least it seems that the kind of community I inhabit on Twitter is going to be radically changed – some of my favourite people have already declared themselves to be planning to leave, I imagine that if the takeover is approved by the shareholders, many will follow. Whether there is going to be a critical mass of users shifting elsewhere remains to be seen.

If this happens, the loss of the community I’ve found for on Twitter would be deeply unsettling. I joined somewhat reluctantly, in the first year of my PhD, to find other historians of philosophy and to try to talk about my research. It ended up being crucial to my survival through grad school and to opening up professional and personal opportunities ever since. I’ve made friends and ‘networked’, it’s led to me gaining publishing opportunities, and it’s helped expand my intellectual horizons in myriad other ways that are hard to articulate.

The prospect of losing this community is deeply worrisome, but at the same time, it’s not the first time this sort of thing would occur. We’ve moved before. I just hope that we won’t have to build up our communities from scratch if and when this happens.

Information Diet 006

Resurrecting this series. Here’s a brief reading digest for this week.

  • Ingrid Harvold Kvangraven on Samir Amin in Aeon – interesting for its description of Amin’s concept of Eurocentrism, which is presented here as an alternative anti-imperialist position to Edward Said’s Orientalism. It’s a literature I’m keen to get into more, so this is very handy both as an intro and as a way of extending my reading list. Amin’s book Eurocentrism seems like essential reading.
  • On his blog, Anil Dash writes on the renaissance of the web. His broad point is that we might be moving past the dominance of platforms, back to a sort of private web. Wouldn’t that be nice, to be back on an Internet that isn’t aggressively trying to capture and sell all of our information, and is a place where weirdos are allowed to be creative and do whatever. Would be nice.
  • It’s Tarkovsky day on Dennis Cooper’s blog – worth checking out just for the gifs of so many beautiful shots from T’s films.
  • There’s a cool interview with David Lynch at Believer Magazine – mostly talking about his connection with Philadelphia, a little bit about his youth, a little bit about creativity. But look, listen, hey, it’s always good to hear what’s on the mind of the greatest film director the United States have produced.
  • Also at Believer, an interview with Pat Metheny. Seeing Metheny was one of the most formative experiences of my musical life. It was on his Speaking of Now tour in the early 2000s, and it introduced me to jazz as I like to think of it now. The interview touches a lot on his approach to craft and the practice of music.
  • Like everyone else online, I’ve followed the Libs of TikTok story with a fair degree of disgust. I’m sure further developments are to follow. Here’s the write up at WaPo.

When it comes to books, I’ve spent the last few days on Yumna Kassab’s Australiana and Mirandi Riwoe’s The Burnished Sun, both of which I’m reviewing. Prior to this I read Michael Winkler’s absolutely excellent Grimmish, which might be the best Australian book of the last decade if not more.

Currently my ears are occupied with the Archive 81 podcast, which I’m listening as a result of binging the excellent TV adaptation (that was sadly cancelled after one season – no wonder Netflix is losing subscribers). I’m also listening to new albums by Yung Lean, Jack White, and Orville Peck.