Daily Archives: August 20, 2020

A Decade of Twitter

Twitter just reminded me this past week that I had been hanging around for ten years now.

I am sure this image was unique and exclusive to my anniversary

I want to say up front that I actually like Twitter.  I certainly enjoy it more than Facebook, which I mostly avoid.  I also have an Instagram account, but it somehow became dedicated entirely to posting pictures of our cats.  And I guess the blog is social media of a sort.

But I was little dubious about the idea of a 140 character… now 280 character… “micro-blogging” service back when it started to become popular, so I waited a bit before joining in.  But after ten years I will say that I am satisfied at what I get out of the service.

That, I would guess, is largely based on my use pattern and expectations, both of which are relatively low.

As of this moment, Twitter says I have made about 17,500 tweets, which feels like a big number, but really isn’t.  Divided over 10 years, that is about four tweets (including replies) a day.  Since I hooked up both of my blogs to auto-post any new article to Twitter, about 25% of my tweets are blog post links.

And of the other posts, most of them are pretty light.  Attempts at humor.  Responses to other people.  Nothing all that big, interesting, or controversial.  I often start replies then delete them because I don’t feel they add anything to the discussion or because I am sure somebody must have made the point I want to make already.  As my profile says, I try to keep things mostly about video games.

Twitter Me

I do try to steer clear of politics, but I also have no interest in having multiple accounts, so that does get mixed in there at times.  I follow a number of free speech advocates, which started with Popehat, whose blog I used to read back when he had time to blog.  That seemed safe to me as I view free speech as pretty non-controversial.  People who seek to limit speech are almost 100% interested in only limiting speech they disagree with and whine incessantly if they feel their speech rights are somehow being impinged upon, even when they are not.

Free speech is a root freedom which makes other freedoms possible.  Kill the root and the tree dies.

Of course, here in 2020, everything is now political, from anything that might help control the current pandemic to vaginal lubrication, and some things are just so stupid that I cannot stay away.  But it isn’t my normal mode.

Mostly my tweets, my non-blog post tweets, are interactions with people I probably have some other connection to… though that connection is likely the blog, so things do seem to come back to this site.

Part of my enjoyment of Twitter is probably also related to who I follow.  I think one of the keys to the platform is not following everybody who might say something in which you are interested, but finding people who do follow a lot of people and retweet only the interesting bits.  (A hat tip to Popehat for that yeoman effort.)

Having discovered that, I set an arbitrary limit of following only 500 accounts.  That seems to be, for me, about the threshold of my ability to read/care.  I would guess that maybe 400 of those accounts are very low traffic, made up of people I know and official game company accounts, along with a few key developers.  Some of those accounts generate no traffic.  I am still waiting and watching for any news about Planet Michael.   The last tweet there was in 2011, but the next one could be any time.

And, because I follow and interact with people in other forums as well, I don’t feel the need to follow everybody on every service.  If your Twitter feed is mostly blog posts and I already subscribe to your RSS feed in Feedly, I probably don’t feel the need to also follow you on Twitter.  It isn’t that I don’t like you, it is just an attempt to keep Twitter manageable and I already read your stuff elsewhere.

I am sure that not playing the follow back game religiously costs me some followers, but the people into that… and I get some follows from people obviously looking for that reciprocity… probably aren’t worth my time anyway.

I also very rarely block people on Twitter.  Blocking is an extreme measure in my view, they can no longer see your tweets and you can no longer see theirs, plus they get a notification about it I think.  It sends a strong message in my opinion, so I try to save it for those who really earn it.

I do mute people though.  That is a much softer touch.  I might do that to people who I follow and enjoy, but who are getting a bit spammy about something that isn’t all that interesting to me.  I declare a mute amnesty every once in a while and go unmute everybody again and start over.

I do not follow many big celebrities.  Or any, really, depending on your measurement of “big.”  Their accounts are inevitably disappointing.  They either have a social media person running their account, so their feed is safe and bland, or they don’t, and you quickly realize they live in a bubble so outside the experience of average people as to be bizarre.  The meme is “first world problems” but there is clearly a step beyond that with “rich people problems.”

So it goes.

In the last decade, my greatest Twitter achievement ever involved me tweeting the following:

65 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser?

David Burge, whom I follow for his car pictures (and #DavesCarIDService) posted a few car pictures challenging his followers to do the identifications themselves.  I got the first one right.

I imagine I will never top that.

(A neighbor years back had a 65 Oldsmobile hearse, so I knew the body style for that year, and Olds had a series of wagons with that popped up roof with the extra window under the Vista Cruiser name for about a decade, so it was right up my alley.)

So, as I said at the top, I like Twitter, but largely because I have found a way to get value out of it without expending too much effort.  There are times, especially these days, when I doom scroll with the best of them, rolling through all the bad news popping up.  But mostly I try to keep it light, just reading what comes by and not responding if I do not have anything to add. (Which includes checking to see if somebody has already replied with what I wanted to say.  No need to have it said twice.)  I mute the crazies, avoid the spammy, and try not to take it all that seriously.

And that is about it.  I have cranked out more than a thousand words about a service that limits you to 280 characters per message, which I am sure says something about me.

Oculus and the Facebook Account Requirement

And then I go and spoil it all by saying something stupid like “Log in with your Facebook account!”

Somethin’ Stupid, lyrics slightly altered

I remember back when Facebook bought Oculus back in 2014 and the panic it tended to induce in people.  The quotes I gathered at the time indicated that some people did not like Facebook.  I am not sure why, given all they had done for gaming up to that point, like… um…

Oh yeah, social gaming, and that crash when the accurtate description of the average game on the service became “spammy piece of shit,” was still living large in our collective memories back then.  FarmVille!

Happy FarmVille Memories

But we don’t hate Facebook as much now… oh, right… yeah, Zuckerberg’s decision that money from people seeking to subvert democracy and spread false rumors spends just as well as money from any other product has not made him any more popular.

At least, however, he seemed to be content to leave Oculus and its VR headset business alone.  That was likely because the VR market has yet to meet early expectations.  CCP didn’t get out of the VR space because business there was booming.  So Oculus has been able to improve its hardware over time as they continued to sell units at a decent, if more modest, rate.  That latest model from them is better, smaller, cheaper, and no longer requires so many connections to your PC.  All of that is likely to make VR more viable in the market.

Things have been quiet enough that you might have even forgotten that Facebook bought Oculus… until this week.

This week it was announced that Oculus users would eventually have to migrate to using a Facebook account to log in.  The full announcement is here.  The crux of it is:

Starting in October 2020:

  • Everyone using an Oculus device for the first time will need to log in with a Facebook account.

  • If you are an existing user and already have an Oculus account, you will have the option to log in with Facebook and merge your Oculus and Facebook accounts.

  • If you are an existing user and choose not to merge your accounts, you can continue using your Oculus account for two years.

Starting In January 2023:

  • We will end support for Oculus accounts.

  • If you choose not to merge your accounts at that time, you can continue using your device, but full functionality will require a Facebook account.

  • We will take steps to allow you to keep using content you have purchased, though some games and apps may no longer work. This could be because they require a Facebook account or because a developer has chosen to no longer support the app or game you purchased.

They are billing this as an ease of use and improved experience, but a statement in that post seems a little more on point as to why they are going this route:

…when you log into Oculus using your Facebook account, Facebook will use information related to your use of VR and other Facebook products to provide and improve your experience. This information is also used to show you personalized content, including ads. For example, we might show you recommendations for Oculus Events you might like, ads about Facebook apps and technologies, or ads from developers for their VR apps.

You will be in the Facebook targeted advertisement ecosystem, which is where Facebook makes its money.  You get to be both customer and product.

Now, does this really change anything?  Theoretically, since Facebook owns Oculus, your account was a Facebook account already.  But I suspect that it wasn’t fully integrated into the Facebook authentication services.  Facebook, like Google and Apple, has made their authentication system available to other services.  And I actually us Google for a few things, as I have 2FA setup on my main Google account.

But would I use Facebook?  With the way that the company has shown itself to be over the last few years?  Maybe not.

I wouldn’t avoid getting an Oculus VR headset because of this, but I also wouldn’t put it on the list of things in favor of getting one either.

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