[ Question ]

Do you use twitter for intellectual engagement? Do you like it?

by Hazard 1 min read1st Aug 20195 comments

16


By happenstance I never started using social media much, and when I stumbled onto the Deep Work mindset I began intentionally avoiding it.

One thing I'd like in my life is an intellectual community, where I can routinely go to find people's thoughts that I'm interested, routinely produce thoughts people are interested in, and engage and be engaged with on those ideas. A few things I've seen recently have slightly updated me that twitter might be useful for this.

I've already seen Zvi and others talk against facebook, but I haven't heard many people talk about twitter.

What has your experience been with using twitter to find, engage with, and share interesting ideas?

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4 Answers

I seem to have fallen into a pretty specific type of twitter usage. I have a particular domain (spaceflight/astronomy) that I want to get regular information about. I follow all the experts and news sites in that domain. If any of those people also use their twitter account to post e.g. political memes, I just unfollow them. This results in my twitter feed being a consistent source of interesting detailed information on that topic, much of which I wouldn't find elsewhere.

Hope that helps!

Looking at the "regular" Twitter feed seems as dangerous for one's productivity as looking at Facebook's feed. Market incentives require Twitter to make their users spend as much time as possible on their platform (using the best ML models they can train for that purpose).

A safer way to use Twitter is to create a very short list of Twitter accounts (the accounts with the largest EV/tweet), and then regularly going over the complete "feed" of just that list - sorted chronologically (not giving Twitter any say in what you see).

I carefully manage my twitter presence to be almost entirely science related to my work. As such, each day I sit down for half an hour and get a shit-ton of awesome preprints in my area of professional research and a cloud of related topics, pictures from conferences on topics I am interested in and don't work in, and the latest from certain people involved in climate science and soil ecology (out of my wheelhouse but things I care about).


Twitter direct messages have been useful getting in touch with two scientists working on things related to a manuscript I am putting together.

Something that changed my mind about Twitter (in a positive sense) was the following set of slides titled "Why Twitter is dope and how to use it": https://speakerdeck.com/nikhilkrishnan/why-twitter-is-dope-and-how-to-use-it

I personally haven't adopted Twitter as extensively as I'd like, but setting up several groups and engaging more in conversations rather than tweeting into the ether has been quite rewarding. Even at my limited level, I get a sense of being part of a community (or more specifically: communities, plural) via Twitter.