The DisconnectTwitter

Twitter starts unplugging things


Maybe the real treasure was the poorly batched RPCs we made along the way

By Sean Bugler / @sbglr
Nov 15, 2022

Lightly burnt blue feathers on a pile of power cables, digital art. DALL·E / OpenAI

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)

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