The Day Social Media Died

Remember the Fail Whale?

The drama at Twitter is just the latest sign that Social Media is becoming Tribal Media.

My adventures in Social Media started in 2003 when I joined LinkedIn but did not do much on that platform until 2008 when I also became active on the pre-Like button Facebook and a scrappy startup platform called Twitter which kept crashing all the time.

The promise of Mindcasting

I was especially enthralled by Twitter’s promise to have near-real-time conversations with “people you know and trust”. NYU Journalism professor Jay Rosen called it “mindcasting”, the frequent sharing of ideas to spark conversations. Professor Rosen’s view of mindcasting was to build communities through multi-directional conversations that would otherwise be impossible to conduct offline. This community succeeds when everyone adds positive information to the conversation through thoughts, links, feedback and constructive discussion.

I built my following by connecting with people whose tweets I liked. In those days, the courtesy was to follow back. In those early days, when algorithms did not too influence my feed, it was a delight to discover new people. I would also follow authors I liked, journalists and bloggers I read and people with interesting points of view.

Is anyone there?

In those early days of Twitter, many of us were optimistic. Looking back at my Tweet archive, I tweeted up to 5 times per day, which was probably on average. At least half of my tweets were ideas (which I labelled “Thots”), then one or two responses and the occasional announcement (or advert) or a flippant remark. Several of those ideas turned into more profound blog posts or articles, which I shared again on Twitter. Unfortunately, my Tweet archive does not capture engagement, but I remember getting enough retweets and stars to keep me going.

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