The Bird hit another inflection point on Friday. Now, many people, myself included, are looking at alternatives or actively decamping1. It was quite a thing to experience.
Several days before, I read a post about the value one can potentially get out of Twitter. On one hand, it may not age well2. Network-effects will cause Twitter to lose “value” faster than it loses daily/weekly/monthly active users. On the other hand, thinking about how I might get tremendous value out of the next network is a useful thought experiment.
Herein, allow me to riff on how to get a surprising amount of professional value out of publishing to and participating in Twitter-like3 social networks.
The value proposition is two-fold:
- the ability to publish into other folks’ attention streams (i.e., reputation building)
- a high-quality stream of information to adjust my own world view/model
On the publishing/write side: note that folks like Patrick, Simon, and Laura are Very Good at Twitter. They’ve been writing there for years, building a reputation. In particular, they form thoughts such that they travel and evolve well on Twitter in particular.
With a lot of practice, I could reach this level of operation. Building the reputation, of course, is about showing up consistently for months and years. A few months of rebuilding my Twitter routine and ‘practice’ and I’m out networking with the best.
In other words, use Twitter as a big professional networking tool4. Instead, the networking happens at the idea level. Contribute and participate in developing ideas and the network comes to you.
On the read side: I’m guessing anyone who enjoyed Twitter in 2022 and gets useful signal out of it is equipped with:
- a well-curated list of mute-words5
- bespoke user lists which focus the valuable discussion and reduce the din of a global social/information network
Throughout its history, Twitter was often adversarial. There’s a “main character” of the day. Many folks come solely to build them up or tear them down. Disagreeing parties come to dunk on each other. Occasionally, they directly engage, but social bubbles/fortifications are the norm.
Anyone who gets professional value out of Twitter ignores that aspect. 🤷🏻♂️ In particular, they are using Twitter itself (or well-considered 3rd party applications) to automate filtering out the noise6.
I’ve dabbled in setting up mute-words and curated, high-signal lists. It worked pretty well at various points in Twitter’s history, particularly in combination. Perversely, now that we’re possibly in the waning days of Twitter’s influence, I’ve got a pretty good setup for finding interesting, new-to-me ideas. Sometimes those ideas put my work, or even the world, in a better perspective. That’s valuable!
Bottom line: you get out of Twitter-like networks what you put into it. The better I write, work the network, choose your sources, and manage the flood of information, the more likely interesting/valuable things will come my way.
- I feel like this happened at least twice before, probably circa 2015 and 2018? ↩
- This started off as a thread that ended with this caveat: “Assuming that Twitter doesn’t drastically regress under New Management.” Reader, it did indeed regress. ↩
- Tumblr, Mastodon, Micro.blog, Cohost, Fediverse, etc. ↩
- Not in the way LinkedIn aims to do that around the resume. ↩
- I started with this list, which is unfortunately paywalled now ↩
- Mastodon in particular has community conventions around content warnings and requiring consent to see upsetting images or even posts about ongoing dramas. By social convention rather than software or regulation, this makes it a much better place for human brains to hang out. ↩