all posts tagged 'social media'

We can have a different web


🔗 a linked post to citationneeded.news » — originally shared here on

Okay, I guess this blog is just turning into a bunch of links about why the internet sucks these days.

But I should stop framing these links as a “here’s why what we have right now sucks” because truthfully… it doesn’t.

Or rather, it doesn’t have to.

I really enjoyed Molly White’s metaphor about gardens1. I’ve been tending to my own garden on this site for more than a decade, and I’ve kept up patches of turf on the web since the mid 90s.

I just like being here. I like having a place where friends and other folks can see what I’m all about and choose to interact with me or not.

A part of this article that stuck out to me was Molly’s observation that the internet started becoming less fun when we all came here to work. I couldn’t agree more.2

Somewhat related here: this past weekend, I decided to finally do something about my IRL piece of land. You see, most of my backyard is now just dirt. My front yard is patches of grass but primarily dominated by weeds.

My back patio is in literal shambles, chunks of broken patio paver strewn around the yard.

The screens on my windows are either broken, bent, or missing altogether.

The cool Govee lights no longer stick to my overhang, so they dangle like a complete eyesore.

It’s frustrating.

This past weekend, I went to the hardware store and spent way too much money on grass seed. It felt incredibly rewarding to do the hard work of ripping up the old junk and trying to build something new.

It felt like a sign for me to log off a bit more often and tend to reality.

But that’s not to say this garden is going away anytime soon. I’ll keep sharing articles like these here because I think it fits nicely with the thesis under which I am about to launch a newsletter: technology is so cool, and we could all use a reminder of that sometimes.

We also could use a friend to help us figure out how to use it right.

Much like I could use a friend to help me figure out how to replace my busted up patio.


  1. As an avid anecdotalist, I’m bummed I haven’t been using this metaphor the whole time. I mean, we even use the term “walled garden” to refer to massive platforms like Facebook or TikTok. Get your head in the game, Tim! 

  2. And as someone who nearly swore off programming altogether during my senior year of high school because building Simpsons websites wasn’t as much fun anymore, I find myself once again disappointed that I didn’t see this one coming. 0-for-2, Tim, you’re slipping! 

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How to fix the internet


🔗 a linked post to technologyreview.com » — originally shared here on

I swear my blog isn’t going to just be links to think pieces about why the internet sucks these days.

It just so happens that there was a wave of these pieces published last year and I’m finally getting around to them in my Instapaper queue.

Two pull quotes stood out to me:

“Humans were never meant to exist in a society that contains 2 billion individuals,” says Yoel Roth, a technology policy fellow at UC Berkeley and former head of trust and safety for Twitter. “And if you consider that Instagram is a society in some twisted definition, we have tasked a company with governing a society bigger than any that has ever existed in the course of human history. Of course they’re going to fail.”

I’ve seen a few good posts about the difficulties of content moderation at scale.

On the one hand, most of the abundance and privilege we’ve built for ourselves wouldn’t be possible without the massive scale that large conglomerates can achieve.

On the other hand, if something gets so large that we are unable to keep your head wrapped around it, maybe that’s the point where it’s okay to let it collapse in on itself.

The destruction and collapse of large entities is awful, with very real consequences for people.

But it’s out of the ashes of these organizations when we're presented with an opportunity to take the lessons we learned and build something new. We get to try again.

The fix for the internet isn’t to shut down Facebook or log off or go outside and touch grass. The solution to the internet is more internet: more apps, more spaces to go, more money sloshing around to fund more good things in more variety, more people engaging thoughtfully in places they like. More utility, more voices, more joy. 

My toxic trait is I can’t shake that naïve optimism of the early internet. Mistakes were made, a lot of things went sideways, and there have undeniably been a lot of pain and misery and bad things that came from the social era. The mistake now would be not to learn from them. 

Keep the internet small and weird, my friends. ❤️

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Why the Internet Isn’t Fun Anymore


🔗 a linked post to newyorker.com » — originally shared here on

Posting on social media might be a less casual act these days, as well, because we’ve seen the ramifications of blurring the border between physical and digital lives. Instagram ushered in the age of self-commodification online—it was the platform of the selfie—but TikTok and Twitch have turbocharged it. Selfies are no longer enough; video-based platforms showcase your body, your speech and mannerisms, and the room you’re in, perhaps even in real time. Everyone is forced to perform the role of an influencer. The barrier to entry is higher and the pressure to conform stronger. It’s no surprise, in this environment, that fewer people take the risk of posting and more settle into roles as passive consumers.

The overall message of this New Yorker article is that the internet isn’t fun because big tech platforms have turned the internet from a place you stumble upon quirky and novel content into a machine designed for no other purpose than to capture your attention and keep you hostage for as long as possible.

I feel like that’s so defeatist. Everyone keeps wanting to create “the next Facebook”, but what I’m looking for is “the next single topic, PHPBB-driven message board with ~400 regular posters.”

When I got my UMN email address in May of 2006, the first thing I did was sign up for Facebook. It was so cool to join a place where everybody was.

In the ten years that followed, though, it turned out that being in a place filled with everybody was pretty terrible.

I think in order to make the internet feel like it did in the early 2000s, we need to shrink, not grow. Specialize, not generalize. Be more digital nomads rather than live in untenable metropolises.

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On Disruption and Distraction


🔗 a linked post to calnewport.com » — originally shared here on

Value-driven responses are not as immediately appealing as finding a hyper-charged digital escape, but these latter escapes inevitably reveal themselves to be transient and the emotions they’re obscuring eventually return. If you can resist the allure of the easy digital palliative and instead take on the heavier burden of meaningful action, a more lasting inner peace can be achieved.

I’ve been finding more and more ways to become detached from my devices the past couple weeks1, and believe it or not, it has been an unbelievable boon for my mental health.

Here is a short list of things I’ve done:

  • Turned on grayscale. I wanna find a way to wire this up to my shortcut button on my iPhone 15 Pro, but (a) too much work and (b) see my next bullet point.
  • Steeling my nerves to activate my Light Phone 2 that I got for Christmas. It’s a pretty big commitment to switch off the iOS ecosystem, but I’m getting close to trying it for a month or so.
  • Deleted most apps off my home screen. Everything is a swipe away anyways, so why not just have a barren screen that messes up your negative muscle memory?
  • Used a content blocker to block Reddit and LinkedIn. I can’t tell you what a relief it has been to not go down the politics rabbit hole this cycle so far, and that’s all because I blocked Reddit. LinkedIn is just as bad for me, and if I am going to keep building my network over there, I should try to be strategic about it and not mindlessly scroll it all day.

Tech is so, so cool, don’t get me wrong. But I, for one, am sick of being addicted to the allure of social media.

I’d rather spend my tech time building goofy websites and writing stuff.


  1. Except for the last three days, because I installed the Delta emulator for iOS and cannot stop playing Dr. Mario.  

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Lina Khan – FTC Chair on Amazon Antitrust Lawsuit & AI Oversight


🔗 a linked post to youtube.com » — originally shared here on

I heard nothing but good things about Lina Khan when she was announced as the chair of the FTC, and I think she did a tremendous job during this interview with Jon Stewart.

Jon and Lina break down the various lawsuits that the FTC is currently engaged in, not just with big tech companies, but also pharmaceutical and manufacturing companies.

I found it interesting when Jon mentioned that he tried to have Lina on his podcast when he was with Apple TV+, but Apple told him no.

I get it, but also, why would you have hired Jon Stewart in the first place? You’ve seen his show, right? Of course he’s gonna call a spade a spade, one of the few reputable media personalities1 who will not hesitate to bite the hand that feeds.

It’s also interesting that the FTC is often outgunned by the legal representation of the companies against which they pursue litigation, sometimes at a ratio of 10:1.


  1. I thought about using the word “journalist” here instead, but I’m not sure if one can consider The Daily Show journalism. I mean, Tucker Carlson can’t call himself a journalist… is TDS that far off? 


The ‘Enshittification’ of TikTok


🔗 a linked post to wired.com » — originally shared here on

Here is how platforms die: First, they are good to their users; then they abuse their users to make things better for their business customers; finally, they abuse those business customers to claw back all the value for themselves. Then, they die.

I call this enshittification, and it is a seemingly inevitable consequence arising from the combination of the ease of changing how a platform allocates value, combined with the nature of a "two-sided market," where a platform sits between buyers and sellers, hold each hostage to the other, raking off an ever-larger share of the value that passes between them.

If you’ve spent much time in the same tech bubbles as me this past year, you’ve probably come across this article already.

At a bare minimum, I’m sure you’ve seen the phrase “enshittification.”

Once you understand the concept, you do start to see the pattern unfold around you constantly. 1

While there are countless examples of this natural platform decay within our virtual world, what about the physical world?

Is enshittification simply human nature, an inescapable fate for any collaborative endeavor above a certain size?

And if enshittification is not inevitable, what are the forces that lead to it, and how can we combat them when building our own communities?


  1. Case in point: the Conde Nast-owned WIRED website on which this article was published. I’m using a Shortcut on my iPad to post this article, and while sitting idle at the top of the post, I've seen three levels of pop ups appear which cover the article content. I haven’t even scrolled the page yet!  

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The Internet Needs to Change


🔗 a linked post to youtube.com » — originally shared here on

I hate the internet.

...that's a lie. I love it, but I hate the algorithms.

That's also a lie... I love the algorithms.

I watched this video on the plane ride back from Nickelodeon Resort yesterday, and I have to say, it got me.

Hank's assessment of how the algorithms deployed by social networks come up short in actually giving us what we want is spot on.

It's why I love how many friends are spinning up their own newsletters. And this new newsletter was a no brainer instasubscribe.

Ever since my buddy Paul gifted me a premium subscription to Garbage Day, I've been a voracious newsletter subscriber. They do a great job of filling the void that Google Reader left in my life.1

This website has been my way of curating the internet, sharing things I've found that interest me, but maybe I should start a newsletter myself and do things in both places.

Should I tell my impostor syndrome to shove it and start my own newsletter, y'all?


  1. I do need to find a way to get them out of my inbox, though. I really should move all my subscriptions into Feedbin so they show up in my RSS reader app. 


TikTok and the Fall of the Social-Media Giants


🔗 a linked post to newyorker.com » — originally shared here on

The era of social-media monopolies has been unhealthy for our collective digital existence. The Internet at its best should be weird, energetic, and exciting—featuring both homegrown idiosyncrasy and sudden trends that flash supernova-bright before exploding into the novel elements that spur future ideas and generate novel connections.

This exuberance was suppressed by the dominance of a small number of social-media networks that consolidated and controlled so much of online culture for so many years. Things will be better once this dominance wanes.

In the end, TikTok’s biggest legacy might be less about its current moment of world-conquering success, which will pass, and more about how, by forcing social-media giants like Facebook to chase its model, it will end up liberating the social Internet.

I saw Cal reference this article in his most recent post, and I’m glad he mentioned it because I must’ve missed it a couple years back.

I have been grossed out by TikTok’s blatant predatory behavior ever since hearing how their algorithms work.

Sure, most major social media companies have resorted to similar tactics, but there was something brazen about the way TikTok does it which feels egregious.

Cal’s analysis seems spot on to me. TikTok represents what happens when you’ve won the race to the bottom, or when the dog catches the tire.

As soon as you’ve got the thing, what else is there to do? Where else is there to go?

It’s all sizzle and no steak.

I’m sick of having my attention stolen from me under the guise of “connectedness.”1 Real connections require compromise, empathy, and growth. Sure, I get some dopamine hits when I see a funny or enraging video, but I don’t seem to get much else.


  1. When viewed under those terms, reflecting on Facebook’s mission to connect the world gives me even more of the heebie jeebies.  

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eternal woodstock


🔗 a linked post to bnet.substack.com » — originally shared here on

As people keep trying to make Twitter 2 happen, we are now in a period that I'm calling Eternal Woodstock — every few weeks, users flock en masse to new platforms, rolling around in the mud, getting high on Like-dopamine, hoping that they can keep the transgressive, off-kilter meme magic going just a little longer, even though social-media culture already been fully hollowed out and commercialized.

I haven’t signed up for any of the new Twitter clones. I do have a Mastodon account that I created back before Twitter got terrible, but besides a futile one week attempt to get into it, it too has sat dormant.

Maybe this is just part of progressing through life, progressing through society and culture.

It’s something I’ve noticed now with having kids: as a kid, you are extremely tuned into social status. Everyone else listens to the ZOMBIES 3 soundtrack? Now you have to be into it. Your little brother likes it now? Now you have to be too good for it.

But for that brief moment, you feel like you’re ahead of the game. You’re a tastemaker.

The times where I’ve genuinely been the happiest in my life have been when I’ve done something just for myself. If it makes those around me impressed or weirded out or indifferent, it was of zero consequence to me.

The short list of things I can think of that fit that bill: this blog (which has existed in some shape since I was in sixth grade), making clips for television production class, learning something new, 90s/00s pro wrestling, running, and playing the guitar.

It’s only when I start to look around at others when I start to get depressed.

And maybe that’s a key insight into why I feel like I feel right now. I don’t have a job at the moment. At my age, your social status is determined by things like the vacations you go on, the home you have, and the title you hold.

But really, none of that stuff matters. What matters is the stuff that brings you joy.

It just so happens that those things, in fact, do bring me joy. The vacations I’ve gone on in the past 12 months have been the happiest I’ve been in ages. I spent all morning deep cleaning several rooms in my house, and it feels incredible.1 Building software and solving problems for people is what makes me happy, not being a director of this or a chief whatever.

I guess what I’m trying to say is: I should stop feeling guilty about not posting a whole lot on social media.

My home is this website. People can come here if they wanna hang out.

Sure, I’ll poke my head up and see what’s going on with others around me on occasion, but I don’t need to feel compelled to chase the feelings that come alongside taste-making.

Those feelings are like capturing lightning in a bottle, and ultimately lead me to my deepest forms of depression.


  1. Even though I know the kids are gonna mess it up in roughly 4 minutes, that’s okay. It’s their house, too.  

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Masnick's Impossibility Theorem: Content Moderation At Scale Is Impossible To Do Well


🔗 a linked post to techdirt.com » — originally shared here on

More specifically, it will always end up frustrating very large segments of the population and will always fail to accurately represent the “proper” level of moderation of anyone.

The argument made in this theorem that you can be 99.9% right and still be a colossal failure at scale is beautiful.

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