Twitter starts unplugging things
Maybe the real treasure was the poorly batched RPCs we made along the way
Twitter has been in a massive tailspin for the past several weeks, starting with the closing of Elon Musk’s mutually hostile takeover on October 27th.
Since then, he’s fired the C-suite, laid off at least half of the company’s employees, unceremoniously terminated thousands of contractors, botched his marquee Twitter Blue subscription revamp, and begun picking ill-advised fights with U.S. Senators.
And while interest in much of that, at least from the outside, can be chalked up to palace intrigue, Twitter’s user base has been largely unaffected. Until now.
On Monday, the company’s Chief Twit indicated he was planning on spending the day “turning off the ‘microservices’ bloatware” underpinning the service.
I’m not the most technical person. Far from it. But I do know that regardless of whether you think microservices are the best solution for a platform like Twitter, turning off 80%(!) of them is a surefire way to do some damage. And with a user base increasingly hedging their bets on alternatives like Mastodon, that hit to stability may not be worth the risk.
Contrary to popular belief, people don’t really care about Twitter The Brand™ any more than they did about Facebook or MySpace before it. They care about being able to connect with, and follow, the people they care about. And when that stops being possible or becomes easier somewhere else, they’ll leave.
So, with all the ongoing fervor both within and outside of Twitter, the inevitable question arises: Why does any of this matter?
Twitter has long had an outsized influence on politics, media, and public discourse. Despite sporting a smaller daily active user count (commonly referred to as DAUs) compared to other social networks like Snapchat and Facebook, it’s long served as a conduit for politicians, journalists, activists, and others to connect, broadcast, and consume information.
And whether or not you consider that a good thing, bringing all that conversation together into one place ultimately shapes the news that comes out of it.
While I’m personally sad to see my black hole of procrastination steadily dismantled piece by piece, there’s a broader concern about who might be left when the dust settles, and all but the most ardent supporters remain.
In other news
Apple’s increasing reliance on advertisements in it’s operating systems to bolster revenue is ruffling feathers externally and internally. It seems that consumers aren’t the only ones concerned that ads are tainting the premium feel of the iPhone. There are some fascinating details in this piece, including that Apple considered, and ultimately scrapped, plans to include ads in Spotlight, the operating system-wide search feature, on iOS due to concerns about an internal backlash. (Wayne Ma / The Information)
Zoom is taking the fight to Microsoft 365 and Google with it’s new native email and calendar solution. The company announced a litany of new features at it’s annual user conference, Zoomtopia, but this one caught most of my attention. Notably, in addition to offering their own native email and calendar service, Zoom will also support integration with Google and Microsoft 365 (Exchange). I think this play is brilliant. I hope other companies take note that they can pursue their plans of world domination without forcing existing customers to go all-in on unproven first-party offerings. (Umar Shakir / The Verge)
Noam Bardin, the former CEO of Waze, has unveiled a new take on social networks, Post. Currently offering a waitlist for interested users, Post positions itself as a space for civil conversations and sharing news. Very curious to see where this goes. (Noam Bardin / Post)
Amazon takes another step into healthcare with the launch of Amazon Clinic, a message-based virtual care marketplace. Interesting to see them continue these efforts under the Amazon brand rather than via recently acquired One Medical. (Jess Weatherbed / The Verge)
Tech-news publication Protocol is shutting down on Thursday. Sad news for an incredibly talented team. (Oliver Darcy / CNN)
Nike is planning to launch .Swoosh, an online platform for buying and trading virtual sneakers, on November 18th. How can you wear shoes in the metaverse if you don’t have legs? (Kim Bhasin / Bloomberg)
Clippy is this year’s hottest ugly Christmas sweater. You look like you’re a little chilly. Would you like some help with that? (Tom Warren / The Verge)
CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, David Zaslav, has indicated that a continued relationship between TNT and the NBA isn’t a foregone conclusion. After dramatic cuts to staffing, HBO Max’s back catalog, and even finished projects like Batgirl, is anyone surprised? (Jeff Kotuby / The Streamable)
Time is running out for the leap second. Fascinating long-form history of the leap second and why it might finally be shown the door. (Alanna Mitchell / The New York Times)
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