I’m a Linux guy, and have been for a number of years now. When people ask me why that is, my stock answer used to be “Because if I really wanted to, I could make it blink my emails to me in Morse code using the keyboard LEDs.” I figured people who got it, man would know what I meant and would nod sagely, and for everyone else it’d be an amusing conversation-starter. Never, not once, has either of those eventualities resulted from my nerdy little bon mot. Thankfully I was able to replace it the first time I saw Enter The Dragon.
Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot.
Bruce Lee summed up (far more elegantly than I’d managed) the concept I was trying to convey using a metaphor that, given that I’ve always been of a somewhat Taoist persuasion, should have occurred to me in the first place; water. I am the cup, the bottle, the teapot, and I demand that software take my shape. It’s why I run Linux on my computers, it’s why I prefer Android phones, and it’s one of the few things I liked about Twitter.
As social platforms go, I’ve never much cared for it. It’s really only suited to what could charitably described as ephemera, and lately doesn’t seem to be much more than a conduit by which famous people distribute their brain facts before urging us to engage in economic activity to their benefit. I use it for two reasons. First, it seems to be de rigeur for people with blogs to tweet about their social graph or something (and let me take a moment to let you know how badly I wanted to injure myself after typing that sentence.)
Second, and unlike any other social endeavour I’ve joined in the last decade, it had a wide open API that allowed for lots of nifty innovation. I was able to putz around with a variety of Android clients until I found one that suited me, and tools like If This Then That let me tie it into my blog and other social stuff in a shell-scripty, Linuxy kind of way that was quite enjoyable. In just the last couple months I’d gotten to the point of “Okay, maybe Twitter isn’t as silly as I’d thought”, when suddenly the API changes were announced and it all went to hell.
I tried, briefly, to give them the benefit of the doubt. I tried to read the announcement as something other than “We are taking away the best part of this service and leaving behind the part where a Kardashian tells you to buy products.” But then, just the other day, I got this email from IFTT:
In recent weeks, Twitter announced policy changes* that will affect how applications and users like yourself can interact with Twitter’s data. As a result of these changes, on September 27th we will be removing all Twitter Triggers, disabling your ability to push tweets to places like email, Evernote and Facebook. All Personal and Shared Recipes using a Twitter Trigger will also be removed. Recipes using Twitter Actions and your ability to post new tweets via IFTTT will continue to work just fine.
*These Twitter policy changes specifically disallow uploading Twitter Content to a “cloud based service” (Section 4A https://dev.twitter.com/terms/api-terms) and include stricter enforcement of the Developer Display Requirements (https://dev.twitter.com/terms/display-requirements).
And that, as we say, was that. The day that Twitter stopped being user-shaped and demanded that its users be Twitter-shaped. The day the water dried up. I never really got to the point where I used Twitter, the way I use Linux, or Android, or Evernote, or Dropbox, or any of the other tools or services that make my life easy and interesting. And now I never will.