For once, I’m not deleting anything. But, I’ve been struck by how

a) bad algorithmic news feeds are at actually getting what I want and need, and

b) how horribly distracting and time-sucking they are.

Companies – and we’re well past the rubicon of DIY internet hippie utopia – it’s companies all the way down now – have no reason to make their algorithms work better for me (or other humans). Their algorithms weren’t designed for that – their only reason for existing is to generate advertising revenue for the company, and to maximize that at all costs.

Cool. But I don’t have to use their crap. So, I’ve logged out of Twitter on every device I use. It’s no longer in my pocket, or on my desk, or anywhere else convenient. I won’t be deleting my account, but the only way I’ll be posting to Twitter will be through my blog. And I won’t be able to follow along, or check out the awesome hashtags or trending tweeters or whatever.

But! It’s 2018! How will you function? How will you stay part of communities?

I’m not going anywhere. RSS is still a thing – compare the noisy flashing algorithmic stream pushed at us by social media companies, with this:

A place where algorithms (if they’re in there at all) work to help me, not to pad anyone’s B2B enterprise advertising ponzi endeavour.

And. It’s a place where I can be done, close it, and move on with my day.

12 replies on “adjusting my social media diet”

  1. I have been doing that as well – using https://twitrss.me/ to grab a couple dozen Twitter feeds I want to follow and have them in a category at http://feeds.networkeffects.ca/ (TinyRSS). All of my posts to Twitter originate at known.networkeffects.ca since 2015 but migrating away from that and doing that from WP in networkeffects.ca soon using https://en-ca.wordpress.org/plugins/indieweb/

    I really like what you have been doing with linking to an article along with an excerpt and some thoughts. Do that a bit in known.networkeffects.ca and going to make an effort to do that more at networkeffects.ca basecamp.

    1. awesome. I’m thankful for your stream at known.networkeffects.ca as well. I’ll try to add more context for links I post – shaking the “tweet without commentary” thing is harder than I thought.

      and, it hit me – algorithms aren’t the problem (NewsBlur does use some to pull content into some sections) – it’s opacity and invisibility of algorithms that are the problem. What are the algorithms doing? Why? How does that shape what I see? Without visibility into the workings of these filters, they’re completely untrustworthy and their output is not worth giving time in my head.

      1. The algorithms (are going to get you?) opaqueness is problematic, but we can see their effects and reverse engineer it quite a bit. There’s a few people out there (usually connected to SEO) who do this sort of thing and it’s kinda fascinating, kinda terrifying. The real issue is that we have no counter to regain our agency once in the meat grinder of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Google. Obfuscation is useless as an approach. The only thing is to logout – or build apps that skirt around the data collection. I read about a project where someone was hacking Twitter to follow people without entering the data into Twitter – they had an account, but no connection between the two entities. Cool, but not scalable. I’m wondering if the API is the way around this problem, but no time to play with the ideas.

        1. yeah, but even logging out won’t withdraw you from The Machine™. It sounds like tinfoil-hat stuff, but between advertising beacons tracking you everywhere anyway (the Like icon on sites etc.), browser fingerprinting (generating an approximated identity based on browser, OS, platform, plugins, IP address, location, etc.) and using the data they have about other people who know you – there’s no way to drop out without actually dropping out and living in a cabin in the mountains off grid somewhere. So, that leaves trying to take control of what I can – my social media diet, for one. I give up trying to control information about me – it’s physically impossible – but I don’t have to let their algorithms shape what I read.

  2. You must getting old and mature if you are not vaporizing your accounts 😉

    RSS remains my primary go to. It’s never strayed in importance. There’s certainly been drops in activities from some folks (not in this room) but its always been a practice of adding and pruning. That’s a human job, not an algorithm’s.

    I must be weird as I still get value from twitter. It does take some effort to not let it suck in deeply, and its really helpful to shut all the windows when I need some focu— ZOMG DID YOU SEE WHAT _____ JUST TWEETED.

    My method is almost never looking at the public stream, I rely on my lists and my columns in tweetdeck. I wish the mobile apps did better for multiple lists/search views. EchoFon does ok, sometimes still clumsy.

    It still offers more potential serendipity than anything else, and I’m using it for my classes.

    It’s a data gatherer, but I find http://nuzzel.com/ has been useful for bubbling up the links people I follow are tweeting.

    But yeah, the time away from screen to do my own frothing and filtering is key too. Speaking of which, time to close the lid and walk the dog.

    So no replies to you on twitter.

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