I’ve been hanging out in a new social media neighborhood for the last week or so. It’s called Mastodon and it’s sort of like Twitter that you made in your garage with a glue gun and some Gorilla tape. This article will explain it better than I can. Or this one.

I created my Twitter account on February 21, 2007 (account #786,471). When I stopped using Twitter last November I was following 176 people and 118 were following me (but I never saw any evidence of that). In those ten years I tweeted 11,565 times. Twitter was where I got most of my news.

But in 2016, nearly every single tweet, from every single user I followed, was politics. A solid fucking year of politics. And while I haven’t been back to my account, I assume that has not changed and will not for the foreseeable future. So I moved on. No idea if I’ll ever go back.

This Mastodon thing is fun and interesting but I’m not sure I can explain why. Where there’s one Twitter, owned and operated by a big corporation… there a thousand (?) Mastodon ‘instances.’ Maybe like 1,000 Twitters that can talk to each other?

I liked Twitter’s 140 character limit but Mastodon’s 500 character posts are growing on me. I’ve always leaned more toward writing something than throwing up one of the annoying goddamned animated GIFs (you an do that on Mastodon, too). There’s a bit of a Wild West feel for now but I suppose that will change.

I’m meeting new people and that’s a breath of fresh air. I’m reading the businesses don’t like it and that is a BIG plus for me. I do not like being “monetized.”

Mastodon is just confusing enough to keep your grandmother from showing up, another plus.

William Gibson interview

William Gibson fans will want to read this short interview by Business Insider. Mr. Gibson talks about ‘The Peripheral,’ the power of Twitter, and his next book set in today’s Silicon Valley.

“I am able to wake up, open Twitter, and sort of glance across the psychic state of the planet.”

What does a writer do when the world gets weirder faster than you can write about it?

“…he world is already that much weirder than it was when I started writing the book. You know the level of freakiness we have experienced in 2016 is so far off the charts, I am having to go back and crank up the weirdness in parts of the book I have already written.”

And it’s only August. Worried about the Middle East? Don’t be.

“And then I see NASA’s climate projection for the Middle East in 2050 or so, when they say none of it will be livable by human beings who don’t have space suits.”

I LOVE Twitter. It’s where I follow the insights and links of 131 like-minded souls. I tweet with some regularity but it’s the sum of these parts that makes Twitter so valuable/interesting to me. compiles all of those tweets into a daily “paper.” While I prefer to follow my Twitter stream on my iPhone app or Tweeti on the MacBook, offers a better answer to: “What do you see in Twitter?!”

It’s like having 131 hand-picked editors, commentators and comedians, continuously scouring and curating the web just for me.

When the technology disappears

“One of the things I love about the iPad, for instance, is when you’re using the iPad, the iPad disappears, it goes away. You’re reading a book. You’re viewing a website, you’re touching a web site. That’s amazing and that’s what SMS is for me. The technology goes away and with Twitter the technology goes away. It’s so easy to follow anything you’re interested in. It’s so easy to tweet from wherever you are.”

— Twitter founder Jack Dorsey on Charlie Rose

Twitter and the Power of Giving People a Voice

Many people are still focused on Twitter as a tool for promoting movies or TV shows, or see it as a toy that geeks and their friends play with to amuse themselves. The real power in what Jack Dorsey and Biz Stone created (and what Ev Williams later financed and built into a company) could well be that it is the simplest, the easiest and arguably one of the most efficient forms of mass publishing — or at least micro-publishing — ever invented.

My favorite line from this post on gigaom is: “… a tweet can be passed around the world and back before newspaper reporters are even getting their shoes on.”

This captures a lot of what enjoy about Twitter.

“Information network” vs “social network”

Ben Parr writes a column for Mashable called The Social Analyst. Here is an exceprt from his comparison of Facebook and Twitter:

“On Facebook, you’re supposed to connect with close friends. Becoming friends with someone means he or she gets to see your content, but you also get to see his or her content in return. On Twitter, that’s not the case: you choose what information you want to receive, and you have no obligation to follow anybody. Facebook emphasizes profiles and people, while Twitter emphasizes the actual content (in its case, tweets).”

“The result is that the stream of information is simply different on both services. You’re more likely to talk about personal issues, happy birthday wishes, gossip about a changed Facebook relationship status, and postings about parties on your Facebook News Feed. On Twitter, you’re more likely to find links and news, and you’re more likely to follow brands, news sources and other entities outside of your social graph. In fact, Twitter tells me that one out of every four tweets includes a link to some form of content.”

I think if you boil it down, for me it’s the difference between “Friending” and “Following”

“Unlike most social networks, following on Twitter is not mutual. Someone who thinks you’re interesting can follow you, and you don’t have to approve, or follow back.”

What are they tweeting about your company?

Co-worker Jeff shares the following story from the road:

On Monday I was flying from St Louis to Milwaukee. My flight was delayed by an hour, which obviously I was frustrated. When I landed in Milwaukee, I went to the Enterprise counter to get my rental car. There was only one person working and 4-5 people waiting in line. When it was my turn, I gave her my info and then was told to sit and that somebody would come and get me in about 20 minutes. I told her that I was running late and that I was actually supposed to pick my car up earlier. She said she was hoping that the 20 minutes was an overestimate. I was steamed. But really I was steamed about the whole travel experience. So I tweeted that I had to wait 20 minutes for my car at Enterprise and why would only one person be working on a Monday, which I assume would be a busy business travel day.

Their person did come and get me within 20 minutes like the counter person had told me. I checked Twitter before I left the rental car garage and I had a mention from Enterprise Cares telling me sorry and asking me to follow her so she could direct message me. She also gave me her name (Elizabeth). I was very impressed by that customer service. So I followed her and immediately I had a direct message from her asking for my contract number and pick up location. I tweeted that I was very impressed with that service and that someone from the company actually acknowledged me and my comments. I sent her my info and explained that my frustration had been compounded by the fact that my flight was delayed. Not sure what will happen but just getting a sorry was good enough for me. By contrast, I tweeted about my AirTran flight being delayed on the way to Milwaukee and on the return flight to St Louis and have heard nothing.

Elizabeth transformed a frustrated customer into a happy customer. She put a human face on a corporation. And Jeff now knows someone at Enterprise he can call (tweet) on if he needs something. Companies large and small are figuring this out. How about yours?

Why Twitter is worth the time

I can’t believe I’m still having to make this case. But I can throw a rock and hit half a dozen people in our company who –at the mention of Twitter– will huff, “I don’t care about what some stranger had for lunch!”

I think most of them know that something more important is going on but they don’t want to admit they might be wrong on the topic. And because they are NOT part of “the conversation,” they don’t see tweets like these on the Twitter page of Mark Neumann, a candidate for governor in Wisconsin, where our company operates a news network.

Neuman has almost 3,600 followers and some of them –who might not otherwise– might hit the link to our site to hear the interview with their guy.

PS: This is the kind of blindness that brings out the smart ass in me.