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The Relief of Leaving Twitter
Summer has arrived here, and leaving the birdsite has made life lighter, too.
That’s my garden a few days ago, just as it was tipping from its spring version to its summer one. The world around me has a sunnier disposition, and I’m starting to as well. And oddly, that’s in part because Twitter has, I think, gone past its tipping point. Suddenly, it was easy to let it go.
That prospect had worried me previously. Even a month ago, when I wrote here about my decision to move to Mastodon and invest time on this newsletter, I was still sad and concerned – torn backwards and forwards on the “should I stay or should I go?” question. Now, as much as I dread the societal consequences of what’s going on at Twitter, the personal dilemma is over. I’m out. That’s a relief. And not scrolling through that stream of stress-bucket Twitter energy makes life lighter, too.
The point of no return was probably far sooner, but all doubts were removed for me by Musk’s decision to bring back a mass of suspended accounts – reportedly some 62,000 will be flooding the zone again soon, including one with more than 5 million followers. He’d like it to be anything goes from now on, short of illegal activity – and it’s not even clear where he wants to draw that line.
An estimated 875,000-plus people shut down their accounts within a few days of Musk’s takeover. Meanwhile, Twitter says the flood coming in is at an all-time high – millions and millions of people streaming to this new Twitter. The company people are keeping on Twitter is changing rapidly, in the worst possible way. And the re-vamped $8 blue check plan is due any day now, with the suppression of others’ tweets promised.
I haven’t blocked off or deleted my account for now, but I can imagine it coming to that. For now, I’ve hung a “Gone to Mastodon” sign on my virtual Twitter door, and I’ll probably pop in to post an occasional Team Mastodon tweet. Jelani Cobb summed up this moment at The New Yorker, in “Why I Quit Elon Musk’s Twitter”. To stay is to support “stuffing money into the pocket of the richest man on the planet,” who wants to profiteer from stoking an information war. “[T]he true victor in any war,” wrote Cobb, “is the person selling weapons to both sides.” And here, he pointed out, the terms are being set by someone who wins “by having the conflict drag on endlessly.”
Now brace for a head-spinning change of pace – which is the story of my life, these days. The lightness of summer is strange, as a person carrying profound grief. It’s a weird state, being a person who’s happy, and also, frequently slipping in and out of terrible sadness. This week had more of it than usual, because I recorded a radio interview on grief. Snippets might be used as part of a program next week. I was impressed by the team’s work, so for sure I’ll tell you about it, whether they use any of my interview or not.
The discussion included talking about the early days and weeks after I lost my son. There was a wobble in my voice a lot of the time. For a moment, there, I wondered if it was too soon. But as I walked out into the sun with my dog afterwards to tend to the garden a bit, I knew it was ok. I was ready. And I’m ready to go finish my next evidence collection and article on grief.
This week, though, I finished a post about a vexed issue at Mastodon – whether introducing a particular feature could usher in Twitter-like behavior there. To help me make up my mind, I dug through Twitter’s history and evidence. The timeline I put together was enlightening, seeing how we got from a free text messaging service to this. More on that below, along with this week’s collection of evidence that caught my eye.
I hope you have a good week!
Did you know that the person who invented the retweet, did so to pass on someone’s tweet about social media and narcissism? Or that the idea for Twitter came from a text messenger someone built for protesters at the 2004 US political party national conventions? News to me, included in the timeline I put together of the evolution of the quote tweet, Twitter activism, and Black Twitter. It’s the bulk of my (long!) post at Absolutely Maybe, Reflecting on Twitter, White Flight, & “Quote Tweet” Tensions at Mastodon.
Speaking of Mastodon and Black Twitter, whether you’ve joined Mastodon or not, take a moment to let Mastodon’s Black joy hashtag, #BlackFriday, brighten your day.
And this week I learned that the “nudge” has an opposite at the US National Security Agency: The Sludge Strategy. It’s a back-up cyberdefense plan, to “deploy defenses that seek to maximize the consumption of the attackers’ time and other resources while causing as little damage as possible to the victim… The Sludge Strategy introduces cost-imposing cyber defense by strategically deploying friction for attackers before, during, and after an attack using deception and authentic design features. We present the characteristics of effective sludge, and show a continuum from light to heavy sludge.” 😲
There’s a new systematic review of shared decision-making and its effect on the length of medical consultations. The abstract says depending on the method, shared decision-making doesn’t necessarily take any longer. How much sharing could there possibly be then, I hear you ask? Good question! Turns out, the answer is buried in the abstract’s jargon about method. The method could involve getting a nurse to do the information-sharing, or giving the patient something to do it themselves. Right.
And in one of those weird customs of academic publishing, this article is dated February 2023. Does that mean I’m now way ahead in my reading?
We may have a “winner” for which area of medicine puts the most spin into reports of clinical trial results. <Drum roll> Plastic surgery! These researchers judged 85% of the trial reports in their sample spun results to look more positive, in the abstract and/or article. Wow.
If you’re interested in how a group tested out different degrees of harmonization in protocols for preclinical studies across multiple labs, and then assessed how that affected reproducibility, check out this paper by María Arroyo-Araujo and colleagues.
And if you’re interested in the use of prior evidence to determine the sample size needed for a randomized clinical trial, George Siontis and colleagues have you covered this week. Their paper looks at trials for a sham procedure control arm – that’s when you can’t tell whether or not the procedure you’ve had was the full operation. Siontis and co concluded trial sequential analysis could reduce over-estimation of the study size they needed. Seeing people show how to get answers that are at least as good, with fewer people in trials, is always welcome.