Writing in Tweets

Maybe my weblog post today should be drafted in sections that are the length of a maximum Tweet at 280 characters. That will shrink my paragraphs by a lot for this post. I’m considering just composing a bunch of blocks and then posting them on Twitter as I write some prose today.

My writing plan to produce a Substack post each week has been working. Week 42 about time crystals has now been written and will go live in 6 days. In 10 weeks, I will have hit my goal to publish a weekly machine learning based post for an entire year. https://nelslindahl.substack.com/

Earlier this week I moved my office desk from my downstairs office. I did spend a majority of my time in that office sitting in my blue Scandinavian Design’s Wau desk chair. My desk and that chair are now upstairs for a few weeks. A majority of my time will now be spent upstairs.

My internet modem is now upstairs. I was worried that the gigabit speed would be diminished by the house wiring vs. a direct run to my office. Comparatively the speed loss was 20% from the top end. That is acceptable for now. My plan in a few weeks is to move back to my office.

Editing the idea I want to communicate from each paragraph down to 280 characters really slows down my writing output. Maybe it will help me be more word economic and succinct go forward. My writing is not really overly wordy to begin with so editing down requires real effort.

A little bit of daily writing

For the last two days of posting on this weblog the content has been sent over to Twitter as a thread (aka Tweet storm). It still feels like the handling of threads by the Twitter application/website is somewhat interesting in practice. You can end up seeing or looking at the middle or end of a thread and the end user sort of has to decide to view the thread in totality. It does show some indicators that you should click on the very happy “Show this thread” indicator at the bottom of any Tweet, but it seems rather shoehorned to fit or an artifact of after the fact design. Naturally, I’m going to keep going down this road for at least the next few posts to really get a feel for how the feature really works out in the wild. Neither of the Tweet threads sent any traffic back to the weblog, but the WordPress reader did send over a few readers who were probably interested in my thoughts on automation. That is a topic that is definitely worthy of consideration. 

My efforts to return to the habit of daily writing at the start of the day are working out well enough. It all starts with waking up early enough to get things done without anybody else in the house moving around. That is probably why the time at night and the time at the start of the day are the best use cases for producing epic tomes of lofty weight and meaning. It certainly takes a bit of energy to engage in the active practice of reflection along the way. I have a path that involves dedicating a few steps forward every day to achieve, but the actions and tasks between those steps are the stuff that defines my productivity. Both a day and a stone stand the test of time. I’m probably not going to do any stone working so my aim has to be to make the most of the time comprising my day. That is what sitting down and wrestling with the blank page is all about. It is about creating prose from the top to the bottom of the page and realizing the journey of doing that unfolds a world of through experiments that otherwise would have gone without the spark to create them. That is really the natural output of conducting this type of writing output on a daily basis. The goal of the process is to create the opportunity for something interesting to spring into existence.

Experiments: 1) For this post I set a featured image to see what it would do to the Twitter thread. 2) I also included a link to Twitter in the second sentence to see how it handles external links in the thread process.

Thinking about that automation

My first weblog to tweet storm automation went well enough. It did not translate to any new weblog traffic of any kind, but it was sort of fun to see the post get broken up via automation and sent out a series of linked tweets in thread form. For the most part this went like most tweets it was nothing more than an utterance in the grand public commons that went without notice or observation. It happened and that is about all that needs to be said about it at this time. I’m going to keep using this method to post content and see how it goes for the next few days. It does require a little bit more work at the time of posting, but it is sort of fun to see it populate the tweets at the time of publication. It is interesting how much automation is being built out to cross post and to share content across a multitude of platforms. It is probably an artifact of the thinning level of attention each application or forum has within the grand context of the public mind. In the aggregate the attention of the people has been diluted to a point where getting a message out to the vast majority of people is actually really difficult to achieve in practice. To that end the use of automation to reshare and send content flying from platform to platform is probably going to only increase the level of dilution as the sharing increases in velocity. 

One of the things that I truly fear is that models like GPT-3 and others will be used to create so much content within the stream that everything else will be drowned out. It is entirely possible that the classical method of news reporting could be overwhelmed by bad actors using a firehouse of near real content created by GPT-3 to simply make finding the signal within the noise an impossible act. That is a fear shared by other NLP and machine learning researchers who know that the use of language models to turn out endless streams of content could overwhelm our current channels of communication. That thought should probably end up in a Substack newsletter instead of a weblog post, but I’m still struggling with the mechanics of doing both of those things at the same time. Sometimes my start of the day writing sessions are going to be more geared toward that type of content instead of pure stream of consciousness. It is entirely possible that my thoughts of the moment will drift into the production of more technical and content driven areas. When you go where your whims will take you it could be toward more academic writing or it could be toward the passions of the moment. That is the nature of that type of writing effort. 

I am still sitting down and trying to fill up one blank page of content in the morning at the very start of the day. It is pretty easy to just open up Google Docs and start writing from the top of the document and watch the content fill up the screen. I did end up getting a Kensington Duo Gel Keyboard Wrist Rest to go with my 60% size K65 Corsair mechanical keyboard. Typing for a long stretch without the wrist pad was not very comfortable and just adding the gel wrist rest was enough to make things feel much more comfortable when typing. That probably has something to do with ergonomics and the mechanics of proper tying, but my explanation is grounded in the practice of knowing one way was uncomfortable and the other allows me to type for longer stretches of time. This post will go online here shortly, but it needs to be read and revised before that happens. The word count on this batch of prose is well over 500 so it was a good start to my planned daily writing activities.

Setting up a bit of automation

Well I have moved back into the pattern of writing a daily weblog post. Each morning I’m sitting down and producing a few words in a near stream of consciousness fashion. This is in addition to my efforts on Substack each week. Along the way, it seemed like a good idea to update my “Publicize posts” setting to create links from Twitter to automatically share new weblog posts by title and a link when they are published. Oddly enough they have a new setting since the last time that I used that functionality. Apparently, I can set up each post to compile and publish as a thread on Twitter, “Twitter Thread: Share the content of this post as a Twitter thread.” I’m kind of curious what it does with multiple photos in the same post. I’m wondering if it just posts text or if links, images, or embedded videos will be compiled over. Some of the documentation says that it will bring over all the content. That is something that I will have to test out by embedding images and maybe some links or something to this post.

I ate the pretzel in this photo. It was delicious. I’m curious how it will show up in the Tweet thread. Right after this line of text is a photo of a giant pretzel with a cup of cheese and a cup of red sauce.

The pretzel was delivered with this extra large New York style cheese pizza. Right after this line of text is a slightly off to the right picture of that pizza.

Here is the output of what happened after publication. It made a thread of Tweets, but the images did not carry over it sort of just compressed the content into a series of linked Tweets.

Thinking about social networks

My social media presence includes Twitter, LinkedIn, and Substack. The other day I did login to Facebook, but that was more a one off than anything social media related. For the most part LinkedIn is a type of currated living resume vs. any type of real social network. Some people do seem to use it in a more social way, but that is rare. Maybe it can be in some ways viewed as a replacement to the business pages of the phonebook. 

A note on phonebooks: In the olden days we used to get physically printed lists of phone numbers delivered on paper to the door of homes. This was not voluntary and it included a special section or sometimes an entirely separate book for business phone numbers. If this post is being far enough into the future that phone numbers are inherently confusing as a concept, then you should probably just skip this post and read something else. Anyway, LinkedIn is a very odd look into the way people want to be seen online in a busines context. 

Twitter on the other hand is really just an open town square of some loud, but mostly inconsequential utterances. The vast majority of tweets are seen by very few people and are of little consequence. You do get a feel for what the crowd is thinking or doing at any given moment, but it is at times highly chaotic. I keep thinking that a curated section will develop where the most powerful of the blue check marks will assemble into an echo chamber of thought experiments. That has not really happened in any sustained or meaningful way.