Your Twitter “Go Bag”

In all the great spy and heist movies and a number of gangster films, characters in the stories that may need to drop everything at a moments notice and disappear “in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner” often have a “go bag” typically filled with jewelry, bundles of cash, and a variety of passports and associated identification.

The Heat’s Around the Corner

Given the seismic shifts in the social media space these past weeks since Elon Musk took over at Twitter, it looks like some people will wish they had their proverbial Twitter go bags ready. 

After reports of an ultimatum and mass exodus tonight at Twitter Headquarters and Musk posting some not so funny remarks, some people are preparing for Twitter’s addition to the IndieWeb wiki’s Site Deaths page.

But after sharecropping content for them for up to 16 years and creating networks of friends on the platform, how can your retain as much value from the dying site as possible? What would you put in your go bag and how can you do it quickly? 

Obviously, doing a full data export would be a wise move, but recent reports are that it is taking three or more days for those to process and get sent out. (What if it doesn’t last that long?) Worse, it’s not always the sort of usable data you’d want to have when moving somewhere else. What can you do to save as much usable data as quickly as possible?

Below are some quick and dirty tools for stocking your go bag:

https://listfollowers.com/ will access the Twitter API to pull out your followers, followees, and mutuals (people you’re following who follow you back). You can save these as a .csv or .json files for use or import to other tools.

 https://opml.glitch.me/ will query Twitter and provide you with the web pages and feeds of your friends so that you can follow them in a feed reader. It also provides you with an .opml file which many feed readers can import so that you can automatically follow all your friends by other methods.

https://fedifinder.glitch.me/ is a tool for tracking where your friends have decamped within the Fediverse. It will allow you to extract the Fediverse handles (where available) of your Twitter followings or list members and import them into Mastodon to follow them all at once. If this is your exit strategy, be sure to add your own Mastodon address to your Twitter profile or bio to help others find you as you all orderly file to the exit while the building burns down behind you.

https://pruvisto.org/debirdify/ is another tool for moving some of your Twitter data over to Mastodon or other parts of the Fediverse.

https://bridge.birb.space/ is an instance for helping to bridge the move from Twitter to an ActivityPub-based site (like Mastodon).

https://twitodon.com/ is yet another tool to help you find your Twitter friends on Mastodon.

One Last Heist

Of course if things continue to devolve, but you have some extra time for one last go, consider carefully your exit strategy and why and what you hope to get out of the experience. 

Many have left to go to Mastodon. I’ve been collecting some rough notes under the tag “Twitter Migration” which may be helpful here. While Mastodon represents a step up in terms of choice, freedom and flexibility over Twitter, I know we can still do better for both user interface as well as a more humane social media experience.

My personal suggestion for a quick and dirty escape is to go IndieWeb and have and use your own domain name and website to become your personal home on the web. If you’ve got the technical chops, our friends at IndieWebCamp have some help and pointers waiting for you. If you’re stuck and have some means, Micro.blog is a great way to go IndieWeb and own all your content while still being able to interact with a large number of other IndieWeb sites as well as Twitter and Mastodon if you choose. Plans there are $5 a month and are an exceptional deal. 

Other options are to move to other blogging platforms like Tumblr, which has shown interest in adding IndieWeb building blocks, WordPress.com, and Blogger.  

Other options?

What export options have I missed? (Keep in mind that we all know there are lots of command line options that dovetail with APIs and require advanced knowledge of programming. We’re specifically looking for quick and dirty options that are immediately usable by the masses, preferably with directions or suggests as to what can be done with the outputs.) 

What other options are there for easy migration that still allow people to stay connected with their friends and family? Hopefully it’s obvious that suggestions for moving to other corporate social silos that practice surveillance capitalism where this viscous cycle will happen again within a decade are now moot. 

#FeedReaderFriday: A Suggestion for Changing our Social Media Patterns

In the recent Twitter Migration, in addition to trying out Mastodon, I’ve been seeing some people go back to blogs or platforms like Micro.blog, WordPress, Tumblr, WriteFreely (like Mastodon it’s a part of the Fediverse, but built for blogging instead of short posts) and variety of others. They’re looking for a place where they can truly own and share their content, often in healthier and more humane ways. Many are extolling the virtues of posting on their own website so that they own their content to protect against the sort of platform problems many are now seeing and experiencing on the rapidly dying birdsite. I’ve seen a growing number of people in/on several platforms reviving the early Twitter practice of to help people discover new and interesting people to follow.

As a result, while everyone is exploring new platforms and new online spaces for maintaining their identities and communicating, I’m going to suggest something else interesting to shift our online social patterns: Instead of spending time on Twitter, Mastodon, Instagram, or other major social platforms, start practicing by carving out some time to find and follow people’s websites directly with a feed reader or social reader. Then engage with them directly on their own websites. 

I already spend a reasonable amount of time in a variety of readers looking at both longform articles as well as social media posts (status updates, notes, bookmarks, and photos), but starting this Friday, I’m going to practice . Instead of opening up Twitter or Mastodon, I’ll actively and exclusively reach for one of my feed readers to read people’s content and respond to them directly.

As part of the effort, I’ll share people’s sites I follow and enjoy. I’ll also suggest some feed readers to try out along with other related resources. I’ll use the tag/hashtag to encourage the website to website conversation. If you’re interested in the experiment, do come and join me and help to spread the word. 

Currently I’m relying on readers like Inoreader, Micro.blog, and Monocle, but there are a huge variety of feed readers and a nice selection of even more fully featured social readers available.

Just as many people are doing the sometimes difficult but always rewarding emotional labor of helping people migrate from the toxicity of Twitter and its algorithmic feeds, perhaps those of us who have websites and use social readers could help our friends and family either set up their own spaces or onboard them to social readers in this effort? Mastodon’s decentralized nature is an improvement and provides a reasonable replacement for Twitter, but eventually people will realize some of the subtle issues of relying on someone else’s platform just as they’ve seen issues with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or the now defunct Google+. 

Feel like you’ll miss people’s content on traditional social media? There are definitely a variety of ways to follow them in a variety of feed and social readers. Not sure what RSS is? Feel free to ask. Know of some interesting tricks and tools you use to make discovering and subscribing to others’ blogs easier? Share them! Have fantastic resources for discovering or keeping up with others’ websites? Share those too. Not quite sure where to begin? Ask for some help to better own your online identity and presence. 

It may be a slow start, but I think with some care, help, and patience, we can help to shift both our own as well as others’ online social reading and correspondence habits to be kinder, smarter, and more intentional. 

What will you read on ? Who will you recommend following?


Featured photo by Dulcey Lima on Unsplash

A great thread. Though why not use the web as your platform? Micro.blog can do the work to help you own your identity & data, and as @EthanZ suggests it will also allow you to crosspost to both Twitter & Mastodon to stay in touch with the people you chose.

Reposted a tweet by Matthew KirschenbaumMatthew Kirschenbaum (Twitter)
This thread is one of the reasons the academics I’ve seen in the Domain of One’s Own Space have so much more freedom and flexibility in online spaces.
A semi-regular reminder that all my posts are on my website where you can follow or subscribe in a number of ways (including as a Mastodon instance!).

You can also find me on micro.blog if you move there. It’s a spectacular, healthy platform and community that would appreciate your contribution and presence. I recommend it highly.

If you need help finding an “exit”, I’m both happy and well-equipped to not only suggest but to provide direct technical help. Reach out in any way that feels most comfortable to you.

Replied to a thread by Bill Seitz & Tom Critchlow (Twitter)
@BillSeitz @UseCrowdWise @peterhagen_

I get @TomCritchlow’s sentiment, but… the extra “work” it currently entails for the social part dramatically ups the signal to noise ratio for me compared to Twitter.

You’d definitely want the ability to filter by your social circle, especially on popular sites. In fact this sort of discovery mechanism would be cool if it could be more broadly built into either the web or perhaps into IndieWeb social readers which would know your social graph and could surface related details.

Perhaps expanding a browser extension like Crowdwise to include Twitter support might be a potential solution? I would worry that portions wouldn’t add much other than a lot of likes and bookmark-like data. While some[1], [2] might consider Twitter as an annotation layer (not always directly linked) on the web, the overall quality isn’t necessarily going to be built in there.

It would be cool if Crowdwise also added Hypothes.is’ API to their list of sources.

I’m also reminded of Peter Hagen’s experiments with Hypothes.is seem very similar but with a different UI. His version flips the discovery question on its head.

Annotated a tweet by Matty Illustration (@MN_illustration) (Twitter)

Y’all, imagine Spielberg’s Sailor Moon pic.twitter.com/xZ1DEsbLTy

— Matty Illustration (@MN_illustration) June 30, 2022
The trending topics on Twitter can be used as a form of juxtaposition of random ideas which could be brought together to make new and interesting things.

Here’s but one example of someone practicing just this:

Editor’s note: The now missing image attached to the tweet was of the Twitter trending topics sidebar that showed Sailor Moon trending just above Steven Spielberg

cc: @marshallk

While the new community members section of the IndieWeb newsletter is just a tiny subset of people who are joining the IndieWeb movement by actively adding themselves to the wiki, it’s been encouraging to see expanding growth both here and in the broader web (even Tumblr) and Fediverse space since Musk announced the acquisition of Twitter.

Here’s to more positive growth to a healthier and happier online social experience.

Replied to a tweet by Ed HeilEd Heil (Twitter)
The whole idea behind IndieWeb is that you can use your website to own all your content on a domain you own/control. You’ve got a site with webmentions set up, so we could be having this whole conversation from site to site. Instead, I’m choosing to syndicate/POSSE my replies from my site(s) to Twitter, to meet you where you’re currently at. Integrating my site with Brid.gy allows me to get your responses from Twitter back to my website. Here’s some more on threaded conversations between WordPress and Twitter that may help frame what you’re attempting. (It also includes a link of WordPress to WordPress or other site conversations as well.)
Replied to a tweet by Stephanie StimacStephanie Stimac (Twitter)
+1 for more research, experimentation, and work on discovery. Many have been collecting ideas, examples, brainstorming here as a start: https://indieweb.org/discovery

#BlogrollsFTW

Replied to a tweet by Taylor Hadden (Twitter)
Twitter might also be a zettelkasten, but the ratio of useful permanent notes to fleeting notes is appalling.


Featured photo: Pencil annotation from chapter 3, page 64:
Kalir, Remi H., and Antero Garcia. Annotation. MIT Press, 2021.