Another Five Things

It isn’t easy being a troll. Hand Me Downs is a short story by Maria Haskins.

“We Handed A Loaded Weapon To 4-Year-Olds.” Developer Chris Wetherell built Twitter’s retweet button. He tells Buzzfeed why he regrets what he did to this day.

Rosie Fletcher at Den of Geek suggests the 2 hour 45 minute running time for It Chapter Two indicates that the horror genre is moving into the mainstream. And that’s a good thing.

Over at Aeon, Matthew Stanley recounts British astronomer and physicist, Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington’s attempt to test Einstein’s theory of relativity. It’s worth reading not just for the challenges Stanley faced, but also the way in which he managed to craft the subsequent narrative into a symbol of post-war German-British solidarity.

And finally, Alastair Campbell has left the Labour Party and asked Jeremy Corbyn to seriously consider whether he’s really up to the challenges ahead.


Further to my last post, it turns out that I was reading the wiki wrongly or – more accurately – not reading the whole of the wiki:

Import my Friends Timeline.

Currently StatusNet software can fetch directly from Twitter, but this is not enabled on as it’s not yet functional for a high-load site.

What that means is that the software can import tweets from twitter into my timeline, but this is not implemented for


I did take a look at the Feed mirror settings in the comtrol panel but it appears that Twitter also started playing silly buggers with their RSS feeds at some point over the past 12 months. Workarounds exist, but I’m not sure I want to waste my time faffing around with a service that I haven’t missed for over a year – especially if they are this determined to make life difficult for me.

I could federate and start running my own instance. This is something I have thought about in the past but have yet to find the motivation to abandon the convenience that provides. And Twitter deciding to make things difficult simply makes me less inclined to faff around any further with the site.

I am also aware that clients exist that can merge Twitter and streams. I even use some of them. But relying on external clients to merge these streams means that I then lose the convenience of having a single stream of conversation that is the same regardless of which device/application combination I happen to be using at the time.

It is also worth bearing in mind that the existence of cross-platform clients now is no guarantee that Twitter won’t start blocking them at some point in the future.

Twitter, it seems, are building a walled garden. It’s not (yet) as annoying as Facebook, but they’re working on it.

And I will leave them to it.

Federation is a wonderful thing: Pity Twitter can’t manage it

This is (potentially) a bit of a mea culpa post. Back in March of last year, I took the decision to stop using Twitter. That decision was essentially ideological but it was made a lot easier by the fact that I was becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the Twitter service.

Then Google+ came along. I signed up, took a look around and eventually found myself retreating from The Borg. I did, however, realise two things:

  • I really much prefer the more conversational stream based approach to social networking rather than the post/comment approach taken by Facebook, Google+ and Diaspora.
  • There are plenty of interesting people online who would prefer to stick with well-known, slightly sub-optimal proprietary solutions rather than explore the full range of options.

And if you haven’t already figured out where this is going, I have cleaned out some of my Twitter followers and switched on the Twitter Bridge from This means that my dents will be posted to Twitter and (if I’m reading the wiki page correctly) any replies in Twitter will be polled into my stream.

Life would be a lot easier if Twitter would federate their service but I am willing to see how this works for a while. Hopefully this will allow me to stay in touch with people I know from other forums (and real life) but we shall see.

It is worth noting, of course, that is still my first choice when it comes to online chatter and you are much more likely to get a response out of me @ExpatPaul than elsewhere.

Antisocial networking

Every now and then, I will see someone mention some conversation on Twitter and I wonder whether I should rethink my decision to abandon that service. It was a year ago that my dissatisfaction with the service was brought to a head by Twitter’s announcement that the people who had developed the applications that gave Twitter the flexibility that made it popular could all go and take a running jump.

I am grateful, therefore, to The Digital Prism for reminding me why I was finding Twitter increasingly frustrating to use.

I know there are a lot of people on Twitter, and I know it’s where all the cool kids hang out. But I did find that Twitter conversations tended to be less about people talking to each other and more about people shouting past each other. Every time I saw someone saying “please retweet” my irritation with the service rose, slightly but perceptibly. It’s not that I object to people using social media to promote themselves, but if the only thing someone can think of to say is “Follow Me” or “Buy My Product” then I am not interested.

When it comes to social networks, the clue is in the name. We are talking about social networks, not marketing networks or self-promotion networks, and the moment the users of a network lose sight of that is the moment that network starts to die.

Goodbye Twitter, Farewell Facebook

Dilbert Social networks come. Social networks jump the shark. Social networks go.

I have signed up to several social networks over the years and, as they have died a death, quietly abandoned them. Usually this abandonment is not the result of any conscious decision – I simply find myself increasingly uninterested in checking in until I realise that I haven’t looked at the network for several months. At this point I simply delete the bookmark from my browser and the abandoned account becomes yet another piece of digital litter left behind.

There are, however, a couple of behemoths (or dinosaurs, depending on your perspective) in the social networking space which I am finding myself increasingly dissatisfied with. Since there are a number of people on both Twitter and Facebook that I do communicate with, I thought it would be worth mentioning why I will no longer be using these services and pointing to where I can currently be found.


Let’s be honest here. Facebook shot itself long ago and, quite frankly, the talk of the company’s impending public floatation strikes me as having more to do with cashing in before the collapse than anything else.

I’ll admit that when I first signed up to Facebook, many moons ago, it did look useful and I have successfully used it to get back in touch with several people from my past. But now the contacts have been re-established and hellos have been said and what’s left is looking both pointless and annoying.

What is most annoying about Facebook is the way in which it locks your data away and then leaks it. The constant changes to that site’s privacy policy leaves me untrusting enough to be careful about what I post to the Zuckerweb but also frustrated that I can’t share Facebook content with people who haven’t signed up to it.

I have a blog. I don’t need Facebook.

I have not deleted my Facebook account and there are two reasons for this. The first is that I do I want to still be able to manage the Pulpmovies page on Facebook and the second is that there are people on Facebook with whom I want to remain in touch. I have, however, switched off pretty much all of the sites notifications and unsubscribed from the Facebook feeds I was following.

If you send me a direct message on Facebook, I will see it. I will not see or respond to anything else that appears on that site.


Back in September I stopped using Twitter. I discussed the reason at some length here but the shorter version is; the PC I had (still have) was too old and slow to cope with Gwibber’s leakiness so I switched to Pino and, because Pino doesn’t merge timelines, I stopped using Twitter in favour of

In December I treated myself to a new laptop which had enough memory in it to cope with Gwibber. So I started following both services again. However, I have been increasingly dissatisfied with Twitter which is becoming less of a communication platform and more of a tool for people to self-promote.

Yesterday’s news that Twitter is essentially telling third party developers that to stop building clients suggests to me that things are only going to get worse.

So I have unmerged my accounts in Mustard and replaced Gwibber with Pino on the laptop. I haven’t actually deleted the Twitter account (yet) but nor will I be either watching or posting to my Twitter stream from this point on.

You can, of course, still find me on which I have found to be a friendlier and much more conversational platform than Twitter. It also has the advantage of openness which means that I don’t have to worry about corporate silliness breaking the experience.

Viva the open microblog!