So, Elon Musk is buying Twitter and the Internet was full of hot takes nearly every day last week. In the spirit of the moment, let me offer my “wait-and-see” not-hot-take.
The two pieces I’ll lead with today highlight the dangers of the push for engagement as the top metric, grounded in history, research, and common sense. Twitter is broken - first, because they tried to bolt on a “tried-and-true” advertising model on top of a unique product, and, second, because engagement as a primary motivation fosters performative outrage and behavior.
So, as you read the hot takes, start with the premise that Twitter, the product, is fundamentally broken already. The problems that come with engagement-first models are rampant: bots, brigading, etc. The horrible people folks are worried Musk’s ownership will encourage are already there. Enjoying Twitter takes active curation and work. Musk just can’t make it that much worse in the short term.
IMHO - better products begin with utility first, the conceit of every product methodology out there - “as a user I’d like to…” I’m pretty sure most Twitter users don’t want to end up as the Internet’s main character of the day… unless you’re Elon Musk.
So, that’s my hot take: Does Musk have a product vision that’s worth $44 billion, or is being the Internet’s perpetual main character worth that much to him? His personal financial exposure and accomplishments make me hope he has some plan here that’s better for society.
- Why the Past 10 Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid: If you read just one thing I’ve posted today, read this one. When I say Twitter is broken, this article runs down why and puts that in the context of research on social networks and broader history. Very well done.
- Elon Musk Got Twitter Because He Gets Twitter: If that Atlantic piece is too long for you, Ezra Klein’s piece from last weekend covers similar ground.
- The Shadow Crew Who Encouraged Elon Musk’s Twitter Takeover: If there’s a reason to be pessimistic, it’s the motivations of the people around Musk who encouraged his purchase.
- Fidelity enters the metaverse in search of young investors: They opened a virtual 8-story building in Decentraland. They also are planning to add Bitcoin as an investment option in their 401K products.
- House-flipping algorithms are coming to your neighborhood: One recurring theme as I go through crypto and NFT stories is the financialization of everything: everything is numbers, and the world can be reduced to costs and quantified risk that can be compensated with money. Lost in that way of looking at the world are the practical benefits to society, the communites that these centralized services try to homogenize with their algorithms. I’m not a data luddite, but I do wonder if some restraint would lead to better outcomes for the market overall.
- Deep Dive: Why Ola Is Facing Criticism For Publicly Sharing A Customer’s Telemetry Data: Interesting debate going on in India about Ola’s EV subsidiary, which makes electric two-wheelers.
- 2022 Mac Studio (20-core M1 Ultra) Review: The new Mac Studio looks like it’s a beast. This review offers the first clear sign I’ve seen that any M-series-based Mac Pro will be a monster.
Code & Tools
- How to Mint an NFT on Solana: This is a nice little tutorial on minting an NFT on Solana.
Maker & Home Automation
- paperd.ink: I backed this project back when they tried to crowdfund it. I built something similar myself for a desktop dashboard a few months ago. This looks like it’s all in one package. A little pricey, but not a terrible deal if you want to get an all-in-one product that doesn’t need assembly. It has an ESP32 inside, and exposes the hardware/IO as a nice pin connector on the back. It looks pretty nice.