ground- water, geo- statistics, environmental- engineering, earth- science

On Twitter

without comments

I have been using twitter on and off for quite a while now. In fact, a few days ago was my 13th twitter anniversary. This means I am in puberty, and I have a few thoughts!

Screenshot 2020 01 28 at 12 47 38 e20e9d52d75548df9bf481056c8ed692
Magical Twitter – 13.
To be honest, I am a bit in a cool phase in my twitter relationship. I am trying really hard, and I want to improve our relationship. As motivation to improve things, I did sign up for a week with “Real Scientists” / @realsci_de. It will be my turn to take over their twitter account in May. I really liked and was inspired by Wiebke Frey (@wiebiwetter), recently. Despite some problems, I do have a growing network of wonderful twitter friends. Maybe some of you can help.

I do have problems:

  • It’s too much! Besides all my other work, there is no chance I can read my entire timeline every day anymore. But if I can not do this – what’s the point? Who has the same problem? Is nobody reading the entire timeline on a daily basis?
  • I could get rid of a few subscriptions (unfollow more often, follow less often). Fair enough. But what if I want to filter… say I want to read the posts of only a subset of friends? Ok, I could do lists. But then the ones I read in a list do still show up in my timeline (don’t they?). There is no “marked as read”, is there? Also, I might not see posts of all the participants in a list every day, i.e. I don’t like static lists but rather dynamic filters. Also lists seem not to be a core feature of twitter that developers spend a lot of time on.
  • Threaded tweets? Really? If you have things to say that don’t fit into 140 (or whatever the current limit might be) characters – write a blog post! It’s also easier to read, despite Twitterrific’s recent improvements for composing and reading threaded tweets.
  • Generally, the direct feedback of likes and retweets is a key advantage of twitter (granted, there are option for implementing similar things for blog posts, “webmentions”, explained by Peter Rukavina and by Brett Terpstra). The functionality of direct feedback is largely broken for third party Twitter clients.
  • Speaking of blog posts: All in all, RSS seems like a much better solution to me. However, unfortunately, not many people are using it, it seems to me (there are some exciting new open source activities). Maybe this is a sign for me being old, but RSS facilitates way better sorting, both by author and by time. it’s much easier discernible what I have read before and what not. Granted, posting on a blog is a bit more involved (a few steps more) than posting to twitter, but isn’t it much better? There are also more open
  • There are problems. I haven’t had any related to bad interactions / trolls. But great also have problems, for example Emily Hunt, or DrDrang
@drdrang: Don’t want to make a big deal about this, but I assume some of you will want to know. Casey Newton’s recent articles about content moderators have made me question whether I want to have anything to do with any social media. (1/2)


I’m curious how other people see this! Maybe you can offer suggestions on how to circumvent this.

  • I’ve started playing with more open alternatives to twitter (@planetwater on, but it seems like there is not yet sufficient critical mass. This has the advantage that we own our content.
  • However, I feel like the real question is this: What is the best content for twitter?
    • let’s look at two successful twitter accounts that I subscribe to
      • @LaurelCoons posts multiple times per day a few key facts on various topics
      • @Muschelschloss posts multiple times per day on news related (“faster than Reuters”)
      • @WaterWired posts mostly what he calls “Water Daily” summary posts on water-related issues/news in a certain region (of the US)
    • I have a really hard time posting every day let alone multiple times per day every day. Also I am not sure if this lends itself well for science / science communication
    • I follow a reasonable number of researchers and scientists who once in a while post really interesting things. And I would put myself in this category. I do see that these posts get lost in the noise (see above… too much…)
    • Twitter seems like a good place for scientific job / MSc / PhD postings and announcements. On aggregator accounts, but also on accounts of individual researchers. This is useful, but twitter is not the only option for such announcements.
  • Tools: I use twitter online and twitterific on macOS and iOS. Are there better tools than that?

The key question that remains for me: How do I get from nice quick interactions, pointers to webpages and books (that are really useful) to more substantial things? I will think about this and maybe some of you have some thoughts – I’d appreciate it!

Written by Claus

February 7th, 2020 at 9:46 am

Posted in

Leave a Reply