A tiny essay on Twitter changing its feed algorithm

Postlight Newsletter for Tuesday, February 9, 2016 — Subscribe here

Source: Twitter brand assets

“Twitter went into an uproar Friday after a BuzzFeed report that the social network was on the brink introducing an algorithmic, more Facebook-style feed….Spend an entire day away from Twitter, and when you open the app again, you’ll see highlights from the day. If you open it up a few times a day, you’ll see a handful of “while you were away”-style sections breaking up the chronological tweets.” — The Verge, “Here’s how Twitter’s new algorithmic timeline is going to work

So: Remember six or so years ago, when we all moved out of the houses we owned, into the big free hotel? I mean, could you blame us? Keeping up a house is a nightmare, things are always flooding and you have to wash your own sheets, and all of our friends kept telling us we had to come to the free hotel. It was fun.

Then after some years had passed, management changed the wallpaper to advertisements for branded goods. That was annoying at first. We all came to realize that giant free hotels can be alienating, compared to having your own small house and neighbors — but it still beat having a leaky roof. So we’re all still living here.

There is one problem which you think they’d solve, which is that anyone can walk into anyone else’s room and scream at them. I know you’re thinking, “just lock the doors,” but there aren’t any locks and they are apparently very expensive to install. Management says they’re working on it.

Also it turns out that robot housekeepers are really bad at determining who should be in which room, and sometimes they just kill random occupants. We wanted to start a tenants board but it turns out we don’t have any rights except the right to yell very hard.

Every now and then someone yells out that they would gladly pay for housekeeping that doesn’t randomly kill occupants, or for locks on the doors, but come on, that’s never going to work now; you’d have to hire millions of housekeepers and there’s not enough money in free hotels to make that happen. The best bet is to just go into each room and add more walls, so you can sell more ads, and to build smarter housekeeper-bots with fewer saw-blades.

Guests are pretty insistent want smaller hotels, with bigger rooms, as long as they are free. Management wants tiny rooms with high walls and no locks, and for the guests to stop complaining so much (which is ironic because it’s a hotel, people all live together). Housekeepers are out, it’s too late to charge rent, and no one tips very well in the first place.

Adding to the stress, there is an enormous, profitable free hotel on the other side of town, and the way they succeed is by pretending it’s not even a hotel. In fact, most people who live there don’t even know they’re in a hotel. As far as their guests can tell, this is home.

It’s a difficult situation, and there is no shortage of opinions.


The “Declaration” at 20

20 years ago John Perry Barlow wrote A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace.

<mirrorshades class=”shadowrun meatspace ono-sendai”>Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.</mirrorshades>

Now he’s doing an AMA on Reddit, so we can finally find out how the story ends.

If you have any thoughts on Cyberspace Liberation 20 years on, please email me, paul.ford+nl@postlight.com, for the letters column.

The letters column

We haven’t received any letters. We are glad to promote interesting links and projects from our friends. Just send them to paul.ford+nl@postlight.com. We reserve the right to stare back in horrified anguish.

Pattern: People with large pets

Postlight Sessions

Come meet Jon Lax and discuss his year in the Valley

Thursday, February 11, 2016, 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM

One year ago, Jon Lax made a huge career move — from agency co-founder in Toronto, to Director of Product Design at Facebook in San Francisco. We asked him to talk about what he learned and to try to capture just how insane Silicon Valley is. He’s great, and we’ll have some beer and snacks. Let us know you are coming on Meetup so we can buy enough beer!

Jon Lax’s entire name is seven characters long if you include the space.

Correction: Yesterday’s subject line was wrong.

Written by

CEO, https://postlight.com, a digital product studio in NYC. Also writer, Medium advisor, programmer. Any port in a storm, especially ports 80 and 443.

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