There is a myth. Cue the string section.

That there was once a place for all to gather, share, be festive, develop new connections, every course a hashtag, topple a few governments, people power.

Then came an evil billionaire who ruined it all, those who gathered were cast out, a diaspora.

No end.

Yes the Musky One was/is a horrible scourge, but all he did was hasten a decline. The birdhouse he bought was already uwinding in the mid 2010s with more algorithim cruft, more ads, more malfeasents. In my 2016 year end post, having been one of the world’s stupefied witness to the script of a reaility show election right out of the Black Mirror

My primary social space, Twitter, for many of my friends is now a place to avoid, or quit. People are huddling in other new spaces or just poising to exit.

“This is beginning to be the end of Twitter for me. Nothing we
say here matters and it is all a waste of time.

— Intrepidteacher (@intrepidteacher) December 21, 2016

It’s too simple, too convenient to scapegoat it all on that smelly tyrant, the reason for the dispersion is we dispersed. And it’s not a platform thing, it’s that thing in our hands.

Think of all the messaging places your attention goes into. It’s not a criticism, I am there too.

There’s no turning it back. I did make my best attempt at the OER24 conference, in my end of conference Gasta session. Heck I sported a nifty t-shirt. I was serious!

Still, it’s not really an answer, there are no technical solutions. I did see a that conference when people would put their contact slides up,”You can find me on X, Threads, Mastodon, Blusky, Purple Onion Peel” (okay I wen to far).

Frankly for me, I am not interested in being in all the spaces. One is enough. I can accept a good amount OMO.

Accept the distributed, disaggregated ness of it all. And really stop looking external for the place, and get back, get back, jojo, to that place you used to blog.

Of course, my advice is just for me, go seek the One Tent to Rule Them All. There never was a single place and there sure as heck will not be.

(swoon of the string section here)

Reprise / Coda / Forgotten Stuff

I left many things out that were in my brain at one point. One is that what we have here is a classic Pogo problem, a reference I guess few know, and I won’t ask ChadGPT to barf out flowery text to elucidate. I made this long ago for maybe a presentation or likely just to make bird noises in the bird place that once had another name:

Comic style  book cover, at bottom is a fuzzy hair character staring into a all mirror, what he sees makes his hat fly off. Behind the mirror a large bird squawks at him and in bottom left the heads of two old men are just staring. The large text at top is "Twitter: We have met the problem and it is us"
With apologies– no thanks to Walt Kelly, most likely a violation, but I cling to my rught to do parody.

But more, I left out a large bit of my own part in this, plus seeing a decline o almos evaporation of views and comments here on the old blog. I get a fraction of the former and a fraction of a fraction of the latter. It’s no surprise that people have taken their publishing to the newsletter format, where i gets shoved into inboxes.

Not that attention is my purpose or goal, but really, there is so much more stuff out there, that we are swimming in it. But heck, a small but of validation goes a long way, and I don’t see much by some heart click icon. I was not just bird thing, but the et al, that have pulled attention to other places (do people still talk about an “attention economy”?).

Also rare, yet treasured even more thes days, are comments in my flickr stream. I forget this has been noy only an outlet for my photographic habit, still noting that composing a photograph is an act of deletion of everything in the world outside the frame. Whereas spitting at a GenAI image is an act of dumping the soup of everything into a frame.

I digress.

And thus, in the next fill in the blank span of ime, I’m rethinking where I spend my attention budget.

Featured Image: My photo of a conference venue in Canberra, Australia, 2007. At the time, I was raving about the potential of a silly networking app named after birds. Lecture Hall flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

Large empty auditoriun except for one lonely man in front center row, his name is Alex.
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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as


  1. Welcome to my world.

    I have *never* had a lot of people commenting on my blog or even responding to my Twitter posts. I actually get a lot more feedback on Mastodon than I have had anywhere else, but even that isn’t a lot. As for my website and newsletter, I gave up supporting comments because there was really no point.

    I think that when you were more involved with Twitter you were part of a very connected and interactive community. It feels great when you’re part of it, and you really miss it when it’s done – and that’s what Musk did to a ton of people, ripping apart those communities because he didn’t value them.

    The Twitter communities (and social media generally) is what prompts blog comments (though less and less over the years as the platforms make it less and less attractive to link externally). I was never a member of a Twitter community – my values and my sense of what’s important just aren’t aligned well enough to be thought of as a part of any sort of in-group. So I didn’t generate comments – lots of readership, but few comments.

    You need a platform to generate comments – but Mastodon isn’t that sort of platform. The Fediverse, though, could be, but it will take a bit of tweaking.

    1. Hello, Stephen’s world. The blog comment vacuum was a sidestep. Before Twitter, we were dispersed, listserv, news groups, forums, blogs. We connected through informal chains, but blessedly ones not controllable for companies or ad networks. The ease and quickness of Twitter yanked that away.

      Also I am not sure where the makings are of groups and communities in that space, there’s no boundaries, so it’s perception. My main point is our communication energy has dispersed into so many other messaging spaces, that I can’t see it coalescing.

      And in a way i think that’s better. It takes us back to hinging on human connectors, as you have been reliably for decades.

  2. I remember the discussion boards, news groups and list servers. I had lots of real conversations on those. But I think it’s important to keep in mind that they didn’t just go away, they were killed: discussion boards by Yahoo and Google groups, newsgroups, by Google, which bought all of Usenet, and list servers by spammers (beginning with the famous ‘green card lottery’ spam) and the measures taken to block spam email. Blogs and RSS were always a bit of a sideshow compared to this, but Google killed RSS, just in case, just as it (with help) killed OpenID, just in case. One we were in the platforms the algorithms took over, social networks (MySpace, thefacebook, Twitter, Flickr) were developed, and in my world, at least, there were never comments again.

    This, though: “our communication energy has dispersed into so many other messaging spaces, that I can’t see it coalescing. And in a way i think that’s better.” I totally agree. It’s unambiguously letter. It requires a different skillset – when we grew up we learned at school to form groups, cliques, teams – but not in wider networks. But groups are incredibly vulnerable to takeover. Networks are incredibly diifficult to take over. The Fediverse – if we can keep it – is genuinely a way out of the online mess.

    1. Well no one I know sees more of the entire internet than you, Stephen, but how true is the statement that discussion boards, email lists, rss have been “killed”? This reminds me of Kevin Kelly’s piece about technology never going extinct

      Most any time I web search for an issue with my old F-150, yes googles top results are YouTube videos but most of the more helpful results are from old school discussion forums (more than a few). Dead? Did Google really kill RSS (we both use it daily). And blogs comments exchanges, there is evidence right here. So what defines being killed then is more like “less mainstream” not popular, yet not truly extinct and certainly important. Do we truly know how many of these things are out there?

      The answer is not technical, its us. The networks that matter do not operate in a platform or protocol, they are what we do individually that could become collective.

      I too have hopes for the fediverse which could be the little mammals that survive the fall of the dinosaurs. One can dream

  3. I’m still reading, via feedly; and still subscribing to blogs if, as, and when, new to me ones cross my radar.

    Checking the feeds is still a daily ritual for me.. though my blog posting rate has gone down (as has the blog traffic).

    1. I know you are out there as always, Tony, and our blogging seems not to have waned much. But this echoes my own world too. I think we underestimate how much our attention is dispersed. Aint no going back, though! Story on…

    2. When Google Reader was ended, I switched to a thing called The Old Reader, which basically allowed you to keep all the feeds from Google Reader. I check it now and then but not like I used to. Maybe I should return to the practice and put some useful feeds in there. I’m so out of it these days I don’t even know what is relevant. I do listen to a few podcasts that I like though.

  4. Listening to you here, Alan.

    Though I miss the exchange and learning on Twitter. Those days are really gone, which forces us to rethink ways to connect and deepen those connections and learning.

  5. I’m still out here. But lost. And sad. I can’t keep up. Don’t want to. I still have a blog site but mostly use it to publish random bits to future me.

    I have retreated largely to analog space. Ever read Lynda Barry’s “Syllabus” book? I did. Now I try to fill up one dollar store composition book every month with writing and art. Have been doing so for almost five years now. Not sure where I’m heading with this effort but at least my kids will have something extraordinary to sift through after I’m gone.

    Some of what I make goes on Instagram, but I am not really keen on continuing to feed the machine. I also have a Facebook habit that I would like to kick. It’s mostly useless but the occasional payoff keeps me going back.

    I don’t know what the, what did you call it, fedora-verse is. Does it resemble the internet circa 2010? I miss those days. Actual online friends and conversations.

    One old school thing that still works for me is snail mail; the good old US Postal Service. In a completely unexpected twist, I received a handwritten note from former president Jimmy Carter this week as a result of letter writing and relationship building in the physical world. Blew my mind.

    Glad that some of the best bloggers are still at it. Maybe we should bring back the 20th century practice of posting lists of our favorite blogs?

    1. Howdy Bill, it’s like sitting around that campfire again, reading your words. I’m glad to hear you are making art and navigating your own way. I hope some mutual friends got in touch, there’s some interest in reviving the Western 106 Gang, which never got too far out of town. I’ll reach out one of those other ways, maybe see if I can get something to you via Pony Express.

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