February 25, 2016

"Twitter helped destroy the conservative ecosystem of small blogs by replacing it with something easier to use and more effective."

"Twitter helped destroy the conservative ecosystem of small blogs by replacing it with something easier to use and more effective," asserts Professor Jacobson at Legal Insurrection. These days, Twitter is shutting down some conservative accounts. And Jacobson thinks — with the conservative blog ecosystem defunct — "There is no viable alternative to Twitter at this moment."

I got to that post through Instapundit, who invites everyone back into blogging and says he's "happy to promote small blogs." He also says — and I agree with this: "Twitter is overrated. It’s a good way to chatter with the chattering classes, but (1) it doesn’t drive traffic; (2) its impact outside the chattering classes is basically nil; and (3) it encourages people to think they’re being 'activists' when they’re really just tweeting to a few hundred people."

Blogging is better. I do Twitter a little, but it doesn't work to bring readers over to the blog. (Point #1 above.) But blogging works much better for me. I can see what I'm saying better and work things out as I see fit. It makes more sense, it centers your writing energy, and it's more fun.

56 comments:

rehajm said...

Twitter, like Obamacare, will die an economic death.

TosaGuy said...

Twitter is the new liberal bumper sticker with similar intellectual depth.

Brando said...

Incredibly stupid of Twitter to censor and ban certain tweets. That will be its death knell.

The other problem with that medium is the 140 character count (even if they increase it somewhat) because it prevents longer, more detailed explanations with links. It's fine if you just want a short, succinct bit of comedy or reaction to something, but it doesn't really promote in depth discussion.

Bring back the blog networks, and good for the bloggers who link and aggregate one another's blog! Best way to share and debate ideas.

Bob Ellison said...

Twitter is merely a self-promotion machine, and the company lacks a profit model. What a strange thing!

Beldar said...

Yes, you should definitely stick to the long-form medium of blogging, Professor Althouse.

Not for us, the medium whose defining characteristic is that it arbitrarily truncates every thought and communication in 140 characters.

"But it forces you to be pithy," cry the Twitteratti!

Nonsense, I reply, there is no reason you can't post your pithy, punchy observation on a blog. But you certainly can't write so much as a paragraph on Twitter.

TosaGuy said...

Brando,

Most people don't want to discuss ideas. They prefer a cocoon of simple, like-minded ideas expressed in a way that comforts them rather than challenges them.

Nonapod said...

I have never used and will never use Twitter. The only thing it's good for is revealing how stupid many public figures are, which is important. Other than that, it seems to discourage rumination while encouraging irrationality. It encourages instant emotionality and discourages long term reasoning. It amplifies grievance, GroupThink, mob mentality, and general rabble rousing. In its current state, its negatives outweigh its positives.

eric said...

Twitter, leftists, Democrats and progressives are thinking in the short term here. It's very foolish of them to start banning accounts now. They probably snicker and feel juiced with power right now, but that won't last long.

Necessity is the mother of invention. If conservatives need to chat elsewhere, they will. The internet is legion. We will find a way.

And this is a fantastic opportunity for someone to become very rich.

If only I were clever.

Patrick said...

I loved Iowahawk on Twitter. Looks like his last tweet was a Mic drop. Too bad

TosaGuy said...

Twitter is great for breaking news and is the only time I read it.

Brando said...

"Most people don't want to discuss ideas. They prefer a cocoon of simple, like-minded ideas expressed in a way that comforts them rather than challenges them."

Well, there are blogs for that too! Just apply strict moderation, and the comment section will be all "great post" and "do you ever get tired of posting such great things?"

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

I know next to nothing about Twitter, but it wasn't until yesterday that I first found out about cat beards so it's all pretty much in keeping.

eric said...

As for those hating on twitter.

When the terrorist attack in San Bernardino happened, I got notified it was happening first on twitter. Before I heard it anywhere else. I started searching news sites and they still didn't have anything.

Once Yahoo news and others starting reporting, I found quicker and more useful updates via Twitter.

campy said...

"They probably snicker and feel juiced with power right now, but that won't last long."

It only has to last until early November.

tim maguire said...

I have a twitter account and have tried to become a twitterer, but it never took. And the people following thousands of twitter accounts--how do they keep up? How could they possibly make practical use of that?

It boggles the mind when I go to someone's twitter page and see that they post dozens of times a day. I can't imagine doing that. I picture people walking around with their phone in their hand just looking for things to tweet about. Why? I've never read anything on Twitter that I could remember 2 minutes later. Nothing enlightening, ever. Never learned anything new, ever.

The occasional clever phrase, sure. But that's about it.

TosaGuy said...

Hopefully it was only liberal investors losing money.

mccullough said...

Twitter is basically mass text messages from celebrities, or mor accurately from the person they pay to handle their social media.

I enjoy a pithy message such as Dissolve Parliament. Hold Elections. But most of Twitter is beyond dull.

Simon said...

I don't think that it's Twitter. It seems to me that the lower echelon of the blogosphere essentially collapsed—not just on the conservative side—after Obama. It was apparent that a few blogs had achieved escape velocity, they had become sufficiently successful to derive income for their authors, not necessarily a lot, but enough to justify continued toil. Writing is hard work; following all these disparate publications is work. All around, we saw consolidation and declining participation.

At the same time, everyone was following and friending everyone on social media, and all of a sudden, I didn't have to check in on Vodkapundit every day, I just followed Steve and when he posted something interesting, I'd see the link on Twitter. And conversely, if I wanted to make a quick or brief comment on something, I could do so on Twitter or FB. I could interact with people there. And if I wanted to write at more length, I could myself blog and post links on social media. But because I wasn't writing for a realtime audience, the subjects and character of blog writing changed—the ephemera of the day moved to social media, and only more serious and durable topics seemed bloggable.

But I do think that something has been lost. Blogging is fundamentally better; it's more permanent, and it lends itself to more serious engagement. Blogging regularly keeps you in the habit of following the news and responding to whatever washes in. And commenting in an open forum rather than a self-curated one avoids epistemic closure.

whswhs said...

Twitter has never tempted me. If I want to write about something I want at least 144 WORDS, not just 144 letters and spaces.

Nonapod said...

To be fair, I think the general concept of a microblogging service has a lot of value. Things like quick dispersal of interesting and/or entertaining information or breaking news for example. I just don't think Twitter has been a very good first attempt at it, even before they started banning conservatives.

TosaGuy said...

"Well, there are blogs for that too! Just apply strict moderation, and the comment section will be all "great post" and "do you ever get tired of posting such great things?"

Facebook is the same way. A friend of mine has a circle of friends who all like the same stupid political links and it keeps showing up on my feed. These folks fancy themselves the vanguard of the Wisconsin progressive movement....no wonder Walker wins all the time.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

I don't read Twitter much (I never liked the format w/r/t linking, responses, & discussion). I miss Iowahawk, though.
Justice Willet's account is often entertaining.

Amadeus 48 said...

Of course, Twitter is a private company and can refuse to serve whomever they choose. It is not like they refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay wedding or something...

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Brando said...Well, there are blogs for that too! Just apply strict moderation, and the comment section will be all "great post" and "do you ever get tired of posting such great things?"

**cough cough**Did someone say Ta Nehisi Coates?**cough cough**

Simon said...

Brando said...
"Incredibly stupid of Twitter to censor and ban certain tweets. That will be its death knell."

Why? Twitter has about 288 million users; how many of them do you think are in any way political, let alone actively posting as high-profile conservatives?

"The other problem with that medium is the 140 character count (even if they increase it somewhat) because it prevents longer, more detailed explanations with links. It's fine if you just want a short, succinct bit of comedy or reaction to something, but it doesn't really promote in depth discussion."

But that's the point. If you ask students why they like Twitter (or text), it's precisely because boring people can't bang on forever about boring topics that they don't care about. Every time we ask students by which means they would prefer to hear from us, it is invariably text; if you ask them which college media they look at, it's almost exclusively Twitter. They don't want in-depth discussions and detailed explanations with links; they just want a short, succinct thing that doesn't waste their time. And maybe that's sad, but that is precisely Twitter's selling point to the people who actually constitute its primary customer base. I would bet real money that if Twitter ditched the 140-character limit, they'd lose a lot more users than they'd lose for throwing Milo and Stacy off of the platform.

Ann Althouse said...

"When the terrorist attack in San Bernardino happened, I got notified it was happening first on twitter. Before I heard it anywhere else. I started searching news sites and they still didn't have anything."

Great. So it's a news feed.

Blogs aren't for getting the news bulletins out quickest, but for commentary and observations. That just gets lost in the shuffle over at Twitter. And you waste time trying to hone it down to 140 characters. I write concisely and put effort into being as pithy as I can, but I don't like practicing my trade up against a wall imposed for the sake of the overall look of a webpage I'm sharing with others. I like my own space. A room of one's own.

Ann Althouse said...

"Why? Twitter has about 288 million users; how many of them do you think are in any way political, let alone actively posting as high-profile conservatives?"

I thought Donald Trump was doing well on Twitter, with over 6 million followers. So I looked for a list of people with the most followers. There are about 350 with more than Trump. The top is all pop stars, with Katy Perry way ahead with well over 80 million followers. That's the core experience people are having on Twitter... a feeling of connection to celebrities.

Brando said...

"**cough cough**Did someone say Ta Nehisi Coates?**cough cough**"

Ha! I remember trying to leave comments on there before--and not nasty or offensive ones either, just disagreeing with points he made or assumptions he drew--and assumed there was a moderation glitch before figuring out this guy considers all disagreement offensive. Way to keep yourself from being challenged.

"Why? Twitter has about 288 million users; how many of them do you think are in any way political, let alone actively posting as high-profile conservatives?"

Because of where it leads--if everyone (not just conservatives) start to see it less as a site for experimentation and sharing views that are "out there" and more as a "proper people's forum" people are going to gravitate towards a more free medium. Competition will crush it (well, that and the difficulty of monetizing it).

"But that's the point. If you ask students why they like Twitter (or text), it's precisely because boring people can't bang on forever about boring topics that they don't care about. Every time we ask students by which means they would prefer to hear from us, it is invariably text; if you ask them which college media they look at, it's almost exclusively Twitter. They don't want in-depth discussions and detailed explanations with links; they just want a short, succinct thing that doesn't waste their time. And maybe that's sad, but that is precisely Twitter's selling point to the people who actually constitute its primary customer base. I would bet real money that if Twitter ditched the 140-character limit, they'd lose a lot more users than they'd lose for throwing Milo and Stacy off of the platform. "

Yeah, it's good for that quick blurb, but anything more than that and you have to find somewhere else.

Simon said...

I'll tell you something else about the brevity of it. It's created a safe space in which "celebrities" (in the broadest possible sense, including astronauts, judges, and politicians) can interact with people without having to fear getting a million-page loony rant. I have been gratified to have exchanges and even dialogue with people from whom I'd never expect a reply if I sent them an email, and I really attribute that to the character of the Twitter platform. So, for example, we just rewatched Battlestar Galactica, and as we worked through it, I felt truly blessed to have an ongoing conversation with Leah Cairns, the quite lovely actress who plays Margaret "Racetrack" Edmondson. That's not something that could happen without Twitter. I've been able, in the moment, to give props to authors, composers, and actors who have done work that moves me in a way that really wouldn't be possible without Twitter. Occasionally, I've been able to convey short points or corrections to writers, and again, they can look at it with a level of trust in the brevity of it that they can't with email. So I think that Twitter is a good tool for what it does—but it does a very specific thing. It isn't an all-purpose platform. It's not there to promote in-depth discussion. It's there to let me tell Bear McCreary that his music gives me feelings that no bro should make another bro feel, and to look at cool pictures sent back by astronauts on orbit. Stacy's crime wasn't that he was conservative, it was that he became boring, waging a fanatical and tiresome war on feminists and bullying users.

Bob Ellison said...

"Twitter has about 288 million users..."

No, it has about 288 million accounts. I have two of them. I don't use either one.

Bob's 5th Law is always true: on the Internet, the numbers are different.

In general, you should take the first number and divide by 10; then take that number and divide by 30. Consider dividing by n, where n>1. Eventually you may arrive at something resembling the truth, but that will happen only if you're lucky.

Simon said...

Ann Althouse said...
"I thought Donald Trump was doing well on Twitter, with over 6 million followers. So I looked for a list of people with the most followers. There are about 350 with more than Trump. The top is all pop stars, with Katy Perry way ahead with well over 80 million followers. That's the core experience people are having on Twitter... a feeling of connection to celebrities.

Absolutely. I hadn't seen that reply when I typed my previous reply, but as you'll infer, I agree. A feeling of connection and in some cases actual interaction; sharing links and wit; that's what Twitter is good for, not political activism or discussion.

Sammy Finkelman said...

Beldar said...2/25/16, 10:50 AM

"But it forces you to be pithy," cry the Twitteratti!

Nonsense, I reply, there is no reason you can't post your pithy, punchy observation on a blog. But you certainly can't write so much as a paragraph on Twitter.


On Legal Insurection, I've seen seeral series of connected Twitter posts posted as a blog post or quoted in one. You could have as many as 18. each one starts something like this:

2/

3/

4/

And so on.

I can't give ou an example because Google is just not searching that way. And neotehr does Bing. If I had the word for what this kind of twitter stream is called I could probably find an example quickly.

Each tweet in the series is limited to about a sentence. Or a sentence may be split among two twitter posts (which must contain an @something or a hashtag [#] to be linked.)

In a normal twitter feed they show up in reverse order, bt Legal Insurrection has posted examples in the corrrect order.

Links to articles are also possible on Twitter.

And now pictures with a paragraph or two can be posted, although it may require a separate click to see them.

But - anyway, blogs with easy to enter comments should be kept going.

And there are also mailing lists (which work better, if what was e-mailed if later or simultaneously put on the web.)

Of course, Google can start to hide blogs, instead of putting them at he top of search returns. Independent linking may work,

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Simon said...Stacy's crime wasn't that he was conservative, it was that he became boring

You don't really believe that, Simon. If you said "it was because of his bullying" I'd believe you really thought that, but there's no way you think his "crime" was that he was boring and was unrelated to his particular viewpoint.

If being boring'll get ya banned from Twitter
Their user count'll go down the shitter

Simon said...

Brando said...
"[I]f everyone (not just conservatives) start to see it less as a site for experimentation and sharing views that are "out there" and more as a "proper people's forum" people are going to gravitate towards a more free medium."

They don't think of it as either. As Althouse points out, it's a place people go to connect with each other and with celebrities, and to keep up on memes and Pusheen and whatnot. Brevity may or may not be the soul of wit, but it's the heart of Twitter.

Bob Ellison said...

What will Twitchy.com do when Twitter goes paws-up?

Simon said...

HoodlumDoodlum, Churchill said that a fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject. I followed Stacy, I respect his longer-form writing, and I broadly agree with his views, but what I saw over the last year or so was that on Twitter, he had become a fanatical, boorish bore, myopically focussed on assailing feminism and its practitioners. Maybe it's just luck of the draw that everything that I saw from him matched that description, maybe there are scads of Stacy tweets that I just missed talking about other things, but his fanatical attention to that one subject and how he was doing it were not attractive.

eric said...

One of my main gripes about twitter is it doesn't allow for in depth argument. The other day, someone on twitter pointed out to me that Trump is a liar. No he isn't, I claimed. He linked to several national review stories as proof. And sure, it looks like he is a liar. But twitter doesn't offer enough space for a rebuttal.

Take for example my most recent post here explaining why Trumps criticism of Disney and his using foreigners to staff his Florida resort isn't hypocrisy. Can't do that on twitter. But I can do that here on Althouse.

Simon said...

Ann Althouse said...
"... I don't like practicing my trade up against a wall imposed for the sake of the overall look of a webpage I'm sharing with others. I like my own space. A room of one's own."

As has been worthily said, our loftiest goal must be "to live freely in writing."

traditionalguy said...

Trump on Twitter is used as a news feed for his thought at 3:00 AM and for announcements of his campaign events scheduled tomorrow, or starting right now, and for Thanks sent out to the troops the morning after.

But reading Althouse remains the best of the best.

Mr. D said...

Blogging is better. I've been blogging for over nine years. I have a small number of regular readers and once in a while my stuff reaches a larger audience. It's fine, because I don't need to be famous. Twitter is drinking out of a fire hose.

Drago said...

eric: "As for those hating on twitter.

When the terrorist attack in San Bernardino happened, I got notified it was happening first on twitter. Before I heard it anywhere else. I started searching news sites and they still didn't have anything.

Once Yahoo news and others starting reporting, I found quicker and more useful updates via Twitter"

No one is "hating on twitter". They are simply noting that twitter, like the established media organs of our European amigos, is taking the first step in cutting out conservative (dare I say "counter-revolutionary") thought. The major media here, as we have all known forever, long ago chose sides and sends any non-helpful-to-the-leftist-narrative information down the memory hole.

How much longer before any of the "breaking news" alerts that eric lauds will also be shoved into the lefty-content-filter-scrubber-funnel to avoid causing anyone any inappropriate "Bad-Thoughts"?

Leftism always ends up mandating thought-control and speech-control. But only every single place it has ever been tried.

Again, we are still in the babysteps phase of operation "get your mind right conservatives!"

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Simon said...Maybe it's just luck of the draw that everything that I saw from him matched that description, maybe there are scads of Stacy tweets that I just missed talking about other things, but his fanatical attention to that one subject and how he was doing it were not attractive.

Oh I defer to your judgement as to his Twitter output Simon, as I didn't follow his account. I'm sure he was obsessive and boring, and probably rude & crude, as well. What I don't buy, though, is the assertion that the reason he was banned isn't primarily ideological (or, I guess, ideologically-based). If he was obsessive and boring and rude but his topic/subject was pointing out flaws in the BSG reboot's plot, for instance, I doubt he'd be banned.

I'm definitely not defending his actions nor vouching for his civility--but for what I've seen there are lots of boring, uncivil people on Twitter but only a certain few (who just happen to have anti-Leftist views) are being banned.

Jane the Actuary said...

Twitter, for me, serves two purposes -- it's an aggregator, as I follow a small number of users who tweet blog links, news articles, etc. And it's a means of promotion -- that is, I have a very small number of followers, so I tend to tweet out links to my blog posts with the hope that one of the people I "mention" will retweet to their much larger follower base or otherwise find it useful.

Which makes Robert Stacy McCain's banning personally annoying as well as broadly concerning, as he was my most reliable re-tweeter.

And, yes, instapundit does link to small bloggers, which is always a boost!

coupe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sydney said...

I followed a football game once on twitter. That's about it. I find it too noisy.

Simon said...

HoodlumDoodlum said...
"If he was obsessive and boring and rude but his topic/subject was pointing out flaws in the BSG reboot's plot, for instance, I doubt he'd be banned."

I think that the flaw in the BSG reboot's plot was called "Hero," right? ;)

Nichevo said...

I like my own space. A room of one's own.
2/25/16, 11:21 AM

Think of Twitter as a tiny house.

tim in vermont said...

I think that you get more readers even just commenting on a popular blog, as long as it is not overwhelmed with comments, than you would on Twitter.

Bill Peschel said...

Twitter is just tub-thumping, offering bumper-sticker thoughts with about as much depth.

Here today, gone tomorrow.

tim in vermont said...

I bet you get more readers with a bumper sticker any day.

Smilin' Jack said...

I do Twitter a little...

You don't Twitter, you tweet, you twit.

jr565 said...

Twitter is terrible. I still don't get why limiting the number of characters you can use is a feature and not a bug. The other day I had a longer post that I had to split over multiple tweets. and someone suggest I use Twitlonger (twitlonger.com) instead of splitting my tweet across multiple tweets.
So, in order to express a thought that is more than a sentence or two I have to use a totally different product. Twit longer should come up with a service to replace Twitter, since it seems to do a better job of tweets than Twitter does.

Leaving aside the whole censoring voices they don't like for arbitrary reasons.
The only real thing that Twitter is valuable for is marketing. If you wanted to announce a new product listing you can tweet the link. But that's it. It sucks as a medium to have dialogs.

jr565 said...

The stupidest thing Twitter can do is block popular bloggers who have a blog where they can post all day what a shit hole company Twitter is.
Adam Baldwin had like 250,000 followers. The Real Mccain has a really popular blog. They have a mouthpiece, therefore to continuously slam Twitter. I can't imagine that's going to work well when it comes to their stock price.

jr565 said...

"Twitter has about 288 million users; "
NOW it does. But as it blocks more people, more people get the message and go elsewhere.

Danno said...

Twitter user growth is in a flatline and its stock has been pummeled. (Not that I am a TWTR investor, but I watch lots of financial news.) The stock has come down from a high of $69 in 2014 to a range of $15 to $17 lately. This all happened before they started limiting viewpoints or free speech. Buh-bye Twitter!

Simon said...

Danno,
I think it's maybe in Glenn Reynolds book Army of Davids where he talks about shopping malls. Shopping malls have many conveniences, but one of them is that they don't typically allow people to get on their soapboxes. See, people didn't go out into the public square to have a debate or be debated at by people on their soapboxes, it was just something they had to tolerate (because of course the government can't ban it) in order to use the public square for what they actually wanted to use it for. They just wanted to go shopping, or see their friends. Then came shopping malls, and not only were they more convenient, but, because the malls could ban soapboxes, people could get on with their day doing what they wanted without being accosted by people on soapboxes.

If you think that people are going to leave Twitter because it's shutting down a few people who constantly talk politics, I don't think that you understand why people are on Twitter.