March 25, 2019

Twitter Is a Construct

“What if Twitter isn’t real?

By that, I don’t just mean Russian bots talking to other Russian bots, liberal satirists fooling gullible conservatives, and cynical opinion-mongers conjuring panics out of nothing. There’s clearly a lot of literally fake news on Twitter, and it’s a problem.

Notwithstanding these flaws — or perhaps because of them — Twitter is still taken seriously as a medium. It’s supposed to be extraordinarily powerful and influential, able to make and break reputations at unprecedented speed.

But what if it isn’t? What if Twitter is mostly a closed ecosystem, relevant only to and within itself? What if its ability to shape the real world is, as they say, greatly exaggerated?

Consider the most potent Twitter user in the world: President Donald Trump. Trump’s tweets are scrutinized by hordes of journalists, both for a view into the president’s mood and views, and because they can easily be repackaged into a story that attracts additional attention (including attention on Twitter). But announcements Trump makes via Twitter are as often as not contradicted by his own staff or by the president himself in a subsequent tweet (as was the case — repeatedly — with regard to the purported truce in our trade war with China). There’s precious little evidence that they are a reliable guide to anything — certainly not more reliable than either old-fashioned gumshoe reporting and source greasing.”

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JJ Editor's Daily Picks

"China’s Hydrogen economy Is coming: The world’s electric-vehicle king is seeking leadership in fuel cells, too. Investors are probably right to be excited."

"It would be the height of naivete to believe the book is closed. Democrats on Capitol Hill are not just going to take the attorney general's conclusions and move on to new things."

"Netanyahu has brazenly allied himself with Trump’s Administration and his family (including the cryptic peace negotiator, Jared Kushner, whose family he has known for years), as well as with the Republican Party and Republican funders..."

"Us is stranger than Get Out, with deeper philosophical undercurrents flowing through it. The rabbit that greets you at the movie’s start is an invitation. Will you follow, like Alice in her Wonderland?"

"Democrats and Republicans seem to have irreconcilable views on economics, but on one point they agree: Small business is better than big."

"Sanctuary, a digital astrology start-up backed by $1.5 million in venture capital, made the considered decision to launch its service on Wednesday — the dawn of the new astrological year, when Pisces gives way to Aries in the astral cycle."

"It is a Vessel for the depths of architectural cynicism, of form without ideology and without substance: an architectural practice that puts the commodifiable image above all else, including the social good..."

"Apartment Therapy posted a photo to Instagram of a bookshelf with the spines facing inward, and the dramatic response — dozens of users denouncing the trend as anti-intellectual, even comparing it to book-burning ..."

"Perhaps it is time to add parenting to the growing list of “replacement religions” competing for our attention and currency these days, a list that already includes workism and politics."

"Only a fraction of the world’s yeast species have been discovered. The ones still out there could revolutionize health care, green energy, and beer."

"We’ve recently fixated on expunging “fake news” but the medical world also has its charlatans. The snake-oil salespeople, masquerading as health professionals, are naturopaths."

"...should we continue to teach thinkers like Kant, Voltaire and Hume without mention of the harmful prejudices they helped legitimize?"