To say I have been slow in the thesis progress department is not entirely true, but I have been sloughing off because I felt I haven’t been able to zoom in and out of things very easily. When people in grad school keep saying you need to write x amount of words every day, they fail to indicate one thing: you need to have enough information of the things you are supposed to be writing about before you do. So I decide not to worry about writing some daily amount of x words before I have information enough to construct something legible. I might have to worry about how to answer this to the advisor though.
Aside from The Ezra Klein Show, I find it particularly hard to find an hour-long podcast worth listening to. That was until Kottke shared a link to How to Fix Social Media by The Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal and Matt Thompson (sidenote: Alexis Madrigal subscribed to my — although currently in hiatus — Tinyletter!). I have always found Madrigal’s writings in The Atlantic very insightful, so I decided to give this podcast a listen.
I am very interested in how both Thompson and Madrigal decided to shape and truncate their own Twitter experience. Madrigal went read-only, which means that if you check his Twitter page, it might seem as if this account already went defunct at some point — but he is there, lurking and reading. Thompson, on the other hand, asked his friends not to retweet his tweets, but instead, if they want to start a conversation with him, all they need to do is just hit reply — leaving the conversation semi-public where if people want to snoop, they need to check out the entire thread instead of having the quote retweet broadcasted on the timeline. All of these attempts are done as a way to circumnavigate the algorithm and reclaim the platforms for us to use at our own will again.
Some related reads:
- As users find ways to maneuver the affordances accordingly, platforms something adopted or appropriated them — evident in the use of hashtag, @-reply, and retweet in Twitter.
- Madrigal also wrote a piece on how Instagram’s inability to add links to the captions and comments might be intentional, but I also question if being apolitical is something everyone can afford to.
There is definitely a lot of things I need to unpack about social media, its algorithm and its many social and political implications as part of my thesis, but that’s not for today.
In the meantime, having finished James Bridle’s New Dark Age today — here’s a reminder in the form of its Lovecraftian titular title — try not to “either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.