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Mike Sugarbaker

How Twitter is like a wiki

2 min read

There are Facebook people, there are Twitter people, there are even some Google+ people. I’m a Twitter person. I use the others, mostly G+, but Twitter is where I go by default for social chattering and output. It’s home.

How can I possibly defend this choice? What about all the senseless noise, the limited interface, the awkward fumbling monetization attempts, the constant obsessions with retweets and status, Justin Bieber and Trending fucking Topics?

Here’s the thing: Twitter has one feature. Facebook has at least, like, nine or ten, just at a glance on the front page. I know this isn’t really true; Twitter has larded a bunch of features on to its famous basic 140-character core. But looking at the page, you can pretend that one core feature is the only one there is. You can’t do that with Facebook, or any of the others.

I used to say that the brilliance, and the fatal flaw, of wikis was that you could do anything with them. The fatal-flaw part is that, while you can indeed do anything with a wiki, you’ll be doing it your damn self: the software isn’t there to have your back. All it has for you is the capacity to edit the page easily. The rest is up to you. If a wiki does try to assist you in any specific way, it usually fucks it up, because that approach is at odds with a wiki’s raw, elemental core.

Twitter’s the same way: you can, with some effort, maybe some third-party tools, and some settling for less, build any social-software interactions you want, just out of tweets. The whole thing is comical and faulty, but it also has a kind of elegance that speaks to my soul.

There’s a lesson here for RPGs too, if you squint.