Is that primarily the case in the startup world today? Is Twitter still a useful platform for reading about bootstrapping founders, new technologies, and interesting business related discussion?
Quick notes, maybe with a link to something deeper, brief comments on something... It's never been any good at much else. Even leaving aside toxicity and trolls, it's simply not build for discussion.
They don't have decades of experience getting bored with poorly-organized thoughts, it's all new. And the algorithm and interface hide the simplicity of their communications, making it into a product they have to take or leave, rather than a process we can tweak to our desires.
- What are the characteristics of interesting discussion?
- What are the requirements necessary to meet those characteristics?
The DL;DR: is that conversation is hard, and it scales poorly. Twitter meets the fundamental requirements poorly. As to most technological platforms.
The underlying question and problem is the one that philosophers have tried to address for millennia, in particular the distinction between the philosophers and the sophists (dialectics and rhetoric). Twitter is principally a rhetorical channel.
I think it's Juergen Habermas who has done some work on participative democracy / group truth-seeking, though I've been at a loss for the specific reference or terminology, or even if he's the key figure in the movement. That said, there are domains, particularly truth-and-reconciliation movements, which also apply similar principles.
If you're looking for informed expertise, some level of reputation, garbage collection, and gatekeeping is required. Soft methods work better than hard ones (see HN's own moderation policies and practices for an excellent example). Ungated forums tend toward noise.
The flipside is that gated forums tend toward groupthink and self-selection mechnisms, typically favouring conformity over correctness or truth value.
And there are other goals of various communities. There's story-telling, community-building, support and encouragement, entertainment, teaching, demonstrating capabilities (and its flipside: "virtue signalling" or "alliegience signalling").
My best results have been with smaller groups of reasonably-well selected people. Anything much over 50 people seems to fall apart fairly quickly. HN itself isn't perfect, but among larger forums is among the best I'm aware of, and has been for over a decade, whcih is a remarkable record.
Communications turns out to be complicated. Especially between people.
It’s probably a must for journalists and activists. And the “reacting to live events” ramps up the anxiety, and necessarily dials back thoughtful, reflective conversation.
I used to do that on Twitter. But conversations on Twitter are a lot like management by pure consensus— one person can ruin the dynamic by deciding a subject is not fit for discussion or by being unable to comprehend the subtleties of the topic.
So, to avoid flame wars, I rarely try to have an adult conversation on Twitter, anymore. And when I do I usually end up muting or blocking some random sod who got in over his head.
Where it shines is quick access to reporting within particular spheres, by following journalists and news junkies, or by searching items with links, within your topic of interest. Discovery of communities of interest by the obvious means also works reasonably well (again, IME).
Unquestionably almost all links to reporting are posted with some agenda, even if it's just the simple agenda of a news org trying to get readers, but as a source of fresh links to interesting stuff it's probably the premier resource, when used appropriately.
Occasionally, if you follow politics (or indeed app store drama) tweets are themselves news, but that is the exception in twitter interest as far as I'm concerned.
The other thing that really confuses me is the tribal aspect of it. I recently noticed a string of tweets/replies where a user of race A replied to user of race B (in agreement) and was rudely told by another of user of race A to get out of "our discussion". Which is really strange to me, since the primary use case seems to be aimed at having wide-open inclusive discussions, but there's a huge segment of the userbase that seems to treat it more like leaving the backdoor unlocked so they can shoot anyone who "breaks in".
Twitter gives you a lot of fine-grained tools for curating your feed and you have to use them.
Ignoring the potential utility Twitter can offer, the quality of “discussions” hasn’t improved one iota over the years. IMO no one could argue in good faith that the culture is better in 2021 than it was in 2011
I wouldn't say "better". There's still just as much animosity. More like the division has shifted and those that say it's better no longer find themselves on the line.
I don't like twitter takes on politics so I mute words around politics.
There is very little of value on twitter and if it disappeared tomorrow I don't think most people would notice or care. It's the niche communities that provide value, like the AnandTech forum members cataloging m.2 usb enclosures.
Long answer: Only follow accounts with small numbers of followers, and you'll find the discussion is a lot more worthwhile