I’ve made it clear that I think we may be headed for a post-Twitter world sooner rather than later. It’s user base has been plateauing for a while. Perhaps Twitter will go into a slow decline, and eventually be relegated to a niche utility, rather like MySpace. In Twitter’s case its utility for breaking news and journalists seems clear.
Recently a friend of mine who is a professor who studies evolution mentioned offhand that he was seeing a decline in the corner of Twitter where we’re active…let’s say the genetics/genomics/evolutionary genetics network. Thinking about it I think he is correct.
When I first got on Twitter I used it 90% to auto-tweet posts from my blog. But eventually I got sucked into a conversation on topics of professional interest, primarily relating to genomics technologies and applications. As genomicists are already usually on a computer, they took to Twitter very early. This is still evident on the Life Sciences Top 100 list.
Many of those vibrant and nuanced conversations don’t happen anymore. Why? I notice many people who not only don’t tweet much, but have protected their account. Twitter is an open medium and tsunamis of mob action occasionally percolate into the science chatter. Social justice commissars on the Left and alt-right Nazis on the Right are always waiting and watching in the wings, ready to pounce and saturate your timeline. Why would any normal person subject themselves to this? Better to keep a low profile.
So what’s the future? Some, such as myself, have always had a blog presence. Over time I may use my blog in different ways. Imagine, for example, a personal Twitter-like sidebar where quick notes and observations could be posted to complement the primary content. Additionally, I’m trying to diversify. I’ve always had the Feedburner Feed, but not everyone uses RSS anymore, and who knows how long Google will support Feedburner? That’s one reason I’ve been trying to grow my e-list, as e-mail looks likely to stick around for a while.
Finally, I’m pretty focused on continuing this blog where I have control of the platform and the technical details. That means more work for me, and probably less traffic. But as the future proceeds I’m pretty certain that there’s going to be disruption of the normal channels of media distribution, as conventional media’s prestige declines. Best to control the means of your production.