The demise of Twitter has unleashed a confusing and confounding exodus. Like being let out of a huge concert or sporting event, we’ve had this terrific experience and now we’re scattering to the winds, likely to never come together in the same way again.
Twitter has its problems, to be sure, but I’m feeling the loss of my robust Twitter feed. While the people I follow are leaving their forwarding information and urging everyone to stay in touch, they are all heading to different places and I’m not of a mind to party-hop to see where the action is. I’m not sure that the Twitterverse can be re-formed elsewhere, and I have grown wary (and weary) of algorithm control, privacy abuses, and advertising distractions.
Perhaps it is long past time to rethink my social media strategy and try something new to satisfy my curiosity about what others are thinking. Or maybe it’s time to try something old.
I am (shall we say) “seasoned” enough to remember the dawn of the social web in a professional context. In the early 2000’s, the buzz was all about blogging, a new and exciting opportunity to connect across boundaries of all kinds to share ideas and interact with like-minded people. The blogosphere was an incredible boon to personal and professional learning.
Circles of bloggers formed in various interest areas and carried on impactful conversations through writing and commenting on each other’s posts (sometimes with full-length posts of their own). The blogosphere was the original internet-based home for influencers and thought leaders – and people who became internet famous through the power of their posts. Their currency was long-form writing that detailed ideas, told stories, and offered opinions. These posts and conversations changed fields of practice and provided rich material for learning – from and with peers, and from and with leading edge practitioners.
Then came microblogging. By the time I joined Twitter in 2012, there was a robust community of L&D professionals and several interesting corners of academic Twitter that I enjoyed following (along with a few celebrities). I remember thinking that I enjoyed the immediate snippets in my feed and the quick exchanges, but I also missed the more robust conversations we had in the blogoshere. Still, Twitter was an interesting place to monitor and engage in the conversations in the field.
But more important for learning, Twitter posts often pointed in the direction of new articles, posts, books, conferences, and other materials that were enriching and thought-provoking. It’s these kinds of well-developed ideas that jump-start and shift my thinking, and these unfiltered ruminations are what I need to stay current.
Back to the future
These days, thought leaders and influencers are regularly sharing their perspectives in that long-form format that I crave via blogs, newsletters (often using Substack), and long-form posts (on Medium and LinkedIn and elsewhere). I get a real adrenalin shot of thought-provoking input from perusing my subscriptions (short list below). I’m hoping more L&D people go this route, and I hope you’ll share your recommendations. Currently, I’m just collating these in a VIP folder in my email menu, but linking to them through Feedly would probably work, too.
I haven’t signed up for any paid versions yet (slippery slope?), but many authors are generous with their unpaid feeds. These posts are more real-time and in-depth than many professional journal articles. You can often comment on these posts, although unless you’re in the paid subscription section, you’re not likely to see what others are saying. Still, using this strategy reminds me a bit of the best days of the blogosphere when I had a strong blogroll that served as a catalyst for deeper thinking.
While a pithy quote can be powerful and a quick list may promise to provide direction, there is quite a bit of nuance left behind when word count is limited. While Twitter will be missed, our feeds might be richer when they are more curated and detailed. See what you think!
Update / November 2023
I have to say, the strategy has been a resounding success. I collect my subscriptions in the VIP folder of my email (on iPad) and I’m compiling them on Feedly as well (still deciding which I like better). I tend to give them a read on Sundays much like I used to savor the Sunday papers. (These days, I’ve usually reached my hard news limit by Sunday.)
I find the time I invest in reading these pays off quite handsomely. I’m tagging and saving quite a few items every time I run through the aggregated posts – just like I had done with Twitter. But with the longer-form writing, I come away inspired and provoked and curious and maybe even smarter. All good things.
I thought I’d share my expanding list of recommended newsletters (in ancient times, we called it a blogroll). And I’m still growing my list, so please pass on your recommendations.
Some of my subscriptions (Updated November 2023)
Generous L&D leaders sharing their thoughts and links:
Bev Kaye, 3-Star Learning Experiences (Paul Kirschner and Mirjam Neelen), Gartner for HR, InSync Training (I author the Thriving as a Learning Professional series here), Josh Bersin, Karl Kapp (L&D Easter Eggs), L&D Dispatch (MindTools), Kineo, Mark Oehlert, Mike Taylor, Rachel Happe, Science of Learning, Scott Young
More on social media dystopia (and what to do next)
So where are we all supposed to go now?
// David Pierce, The Verge, July 2023
“But even before this era fully ends, before Twitter and Reddit turn into MySpace and Friendfeed and basically disappear from my life, I find myself longing for what they once were. Still are, maybe, just not for long. I miss everybody, and I don’t know if I’ll ever find them again.”
Curated consumption: A saner approach to online media
// Scott H. Young, January 2023
“Instead of an infinite stream of content designed to maximize your gut-level reactions to attention-hijacking thumbnails and rage-inducing headlines, you just read the stuff you’ve subscribed to.”
The antidote to the anti-social enterprise
// LJ Parker, Link*Log by Post*Shift, July 2023
“Building a discipline of documenting relentlessly is really the standard we should be aiming for across organizations if we are to save ourselves from the digital workplace noise we’ve created. It creates a shared, living memory of organizational knowledge for current and future reference.”
Employees are drowning in network effects
// Rachel Happe, Engaged Organizations, October 2021
“Individuals are left to decide which channels to use and, because of that, the most valuable channel is determined by a popularity contest rather than what is most effective for the work to be done. Without collective decisions about use, individuals are at the mercy of every other individuals’ decisions – so they have to be in ALL the channels if they want to keep up. It is far, far worse than one overflowing email inbox. It is madness.”
The enshittification of academic social media
// Inger Mewburn, The Thesis Whisperer, July 2023
“Telling academics they can achieve career success by using today’s algorithmic-driven platforms is like telling Millennials they could afford to buy a house by eating less avocado on toast. It’s a cruel lie because social media is a shit way to share your work now.”