Threads are another recent Twitter trend. You’ll be reading your timeline, then see an intelligent comment proceeded with the word THREAD! They’ll then reply to this initial tweet a few dozen times, forming a train of thought.
I admire people who are able to be creative in a limited medium, from people PEEKing and POKEing their Commodore 64s, to journalists making compelling stores in 240 character chunks. It takes skill beyond just splitting thoughts into shorter sentences and pasting them in a row; they need to flow, and remain engaging in a medium vying for people’s nanoscopic attention spans.
But I’ve yet to see a single one of these threads that wouldn’t work better as a blog post. It’s another pernicious element to social media that I think we’re largely ignoring in light of the more easily identifiable problems. Social media has convinced people of three things:
It’s less cognitive effort to break up your thoughts into stilted chunks than it is to publish freely on a blog.
Thoughts won’t get adequate attention if they’re blog posts, and attention as expressed through likes and retweets are the currency we’re supposed to take seriously now.
Thoughts are less valuable if they’re published on a blog.
We can solve #1 and #2 by educating people, making our systems easier to use, and cross-posting with adequate metadata. But the devaluing of independent media in #3 gravely worries me. We’ve been here before, when blogging was seen as a silly hobby and that traditional media outlets were the custodians of reliability and worth. All we’ve done is substitute the New York Times with Twitter. Let the implications of that sink in for a moment.
I fear the window to have a compelling answer to this is closing, before the Internet really is just a handful of players as we all feared would happen. I wouldn’t fauly anyone for thinking it’s already happened.