Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Badge Fic


Twitter has a blue verified account tick badge. It shows that somebody is really who they say they are.

It's time we have another kind of badge: one that shows that you're really listening.

The Mute function is more-or-less pernicious, but perhaps it has its place in a lively, flourishing online attention ecology.

But there needs to be something that reassures us someone isn't abusing it. Perhaps this badge appears on your profile -- discreetly of course -- so long as you haven't muted more than 10% of the people you're following?

Otherwise we've just gone from connecting with people to collecting people.


But there is a more general, and slightly inevitably melodramatic, point to be made.

Twitter, by all means, have our tweets algorithmically sorted, enhanced and monetised. But please, let us turn it down, or tailor it, or switch it off. And let us be able to connect with others who have the good sense to turn it down or tailor it or switch it off.

Twitter is the greatest social media site that has ever lived. I bet I'm not the only one who senses imminent decline. Twitter is tottering and twembling.

Twitter wants to make money, to make as much money as it can. OK. But even within that constraint, it has a lot of options. And it has ethical obligations about how it uses those options. I hope Twitter will think not just about what users want, and not just about monetisation, but also about the different kinds of online culture which different choices will cultivate.

I hope that Twitter will give its users the opportunity to tailor their own social media architectures (creating a possibility space, in other words, which includes (for instance) the Twitter we have today as one of its possible configurations), and that Twitter will decide what needs to be private, and what needs to be public, about users' individual set-ups on the basis of what is most conducive to the construction of a real public sphere.


(Alternative suggestions to the "I'm really listening badge": make muting temporary, or replace it with a "Less From This User" button).


(Earlier: What It's Like Following Thousands of People. The right way to incorporate algorithmic sorting into Twitter).

Badge Fin

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