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Cryptocurrency uses chats on Telegram and Discord heavily. But crypto Twitter is the town square. Twitter is where you follow the big guys, it’s where you promote your altcoin scam, it’s where you brag to your fellow degens,* it’s where you expose the other degens’ backsides hanging out.
* yes, the most terminal crypto gambling addicts proudly self-label as “degens.” Sorry.
So if Twitter falls over … where do our degen friends regroup?
Twitter will be fine, you commie
There are two main schools of opinion on the future of Twitter:
- Elon Musk has demonstrated himself to be working well outside his expertise, and has destroyed Twitter’s technical capabilities as well as its income stream.
- Everything will be fine. Elon is a genius, you SJW.
The first school tends to people who know about computers and system administration, and the second school tends to non-techie marketers who will sell you a course for $49.
Musk seems to think that if a four-engine jet can stay in the air on one engine, the other three can be sold for scrap. This turns out to be incorrect.
This is why bits are visibly falling off Twitter, like a Tesla on autopilot randomly shedding bumpers and doors. The home page comes up “Something’s gone wrong.” Notifications will fail to load. If you go to a tweet URL, it may come up unavailable until you reload a few times. Some accounts just can’t be searched. Images fail to load. Account switching on the apps is unreliable. Direct messages don’t get through. Search keeps failing.
Large distributed systems are like horses, they spook easily and look for excuses to die of fright. Poor ol’ xe-1-1-0.cr1-lon1.twttr.com, thought of ants and died.
I would like Twitter to keep working — but I will not be surprised if there’s a major outage soon, as systems whose entire teams quit or were fired start to fail.
And that’s before Musk scared off the big Twitter advertisers. As I noted last time: if Musk, Thiel and Sacks want a culture warrior Twitter, they’re going to have to bankroll it out of their own pockets. Including those billion-dollar interest payments.
If everyone who knows anything about sailing suggests it’s time to check out the lifeboats, you may want to go and have a look.
The elephant in the room
Mastodon is absolutely not Twitter, but it’s where a lot of people are going from Elon’s broken network.
Mastodon is a federated network founded by annoying nerds and queer leftists, and they set the tone. Anyone can set up an isolated instance — Gab and Truth Social both run on Mastodon code, for example — but if you want to be in the main federation that people think of as Mastodon, it has content and behaviour rules around slurs, hate speech and so on. Post nicely. Break the content rules and you and your whole server may be shunned.
Only people who follow the worst blockchain idiots will understand this — but Mastodon is Balaji Srinivasan’s “Network States,” only plausible, functional and built by nice people rather than a fantasy of seasteading on the blockchain that can only work in a neoreactionary’s fever dreams.
Foolish people will tell you it doesn’t matter which Mastodon server you pick. This is not at all the case, and it’s one of the biggest barriers for newbies. It’s the early 2000s, and you’re at the whim of your forum admin throwing a tantrum. I’m @email@example.com, camping out on a friend’s small private server. But the large “safe” servers are often blocked by other servers due to bad moderation, much to their users’ dismay. It turns out moderation is the hardest problem in social networking, because humans can’t scale like computers can.
Some of your favourite crypto critics from Twitter are on Mastodon, including @ncweaver, @molly0xfff, @BennettTomlin, @CryptoCriticPod, @web3isgreat, @PeterJHowson, @davetroy, @tante, @CatherineFlick and @Frances_Coppola. @winstonsmith posts some New Zealand crypto news.
There’s a whole pile of finance people on Mastodon. Financial Times FT Alphaville has its own account and its own server: @FTAV@alphaville.club — organisations and companies are recommended to set up their own servers. There’s econtwitter.net for economics enthusiasts.
There’s apparently someone already posting thirst traps with model photos asking for crypto, LOL.
I’m finding the Tusky app on Android extremely usable. I’m told all the iOS apps sorta suck, so the charity that develops Mastodon has hired a developer to make a decent one.
What could replace crypto Twitter?
I’m enjoying Mastodon, but I can’t get crypto work done on Mastodon the way I can on Twitter. Mastodon doesn’t have crypto bozos hanging their backsides out for the world to see the way Twitter does, and the way BitcoinTalk did in the early days. It turns out the idiots are a feature.
Mastodon isn’t a suitable candidate to replace crypto Twitter, mostly because half of crypto Twitter couldn’t hold back for ten seconds from posting slurs, and would be booted immediately.
BitcoinTalk was the centre of everything in the olden days, and it’s still up and running — but it probably can’t take the load.
I expect crypto Twitter to persist as long as the service doesn’t have extended outages and is halfway usable for the task. But if enough parts fall off, where do you think crypto Twitter will regroup?
(Zero people are moving to anything with a token and/or a DAO. Don’t be silly.)
By the way — the original Twitter Fail Whale artist, Yiying Lu, has an official Fail Whale merchandise store. [Zazzle]
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