Tuesday, July 18, 2023

“Goodnight, Ladies [and Gentlemen]. Goodnight, Sweet Ladies [and Gentlemen]. Goodnight. Goodnight”: Why Bardfilm is Leaving Twitter

"Hath he not twit our sovereign lady here / With ignominious words?" —2 Henry VI, III.i.178.

Twitter launched on 15 July 2006. My first tweet was on 14 November 2008 (for which, q.v.). No one would say that I'm an early adopter, but no one can say I'm unfamiliar with Twitter and the way it works.

Or, really, the way Twitter used to work.

I joined Twitter to try to win an iPad. It was a haiku contest, and, naturally, I took it in a Shakespeare-related direction. It won second place. But it also got me interested in this microblogging site that I'd be hearing more and more about in the preceding months. 

It was great fun. I've frequently said that Twitter is (or at least can be) a playground. I enjoyed spending time playing with language and Shakespeare and music with other people on Twitter. For the first ten years or so, I found a number of people who were figuring out what we could do with this nifty entity that we'd joined. Even official Twitter accounts for big-name entities were playing and exploring and were willing to join in with #Hashtag games or knock-knock jokes or Shakespearean haiku.

And because of all the fun and all the people playing, Twitter was a great place for shameless self-promotion! I wanted Bardfilm to have a greater readership, and I found that the people who came to play didn't mind occasionally seeing what I had to say in a greater-than-140-character format.

But why will Bardfilm will be leaving Twitter after nearly fifteen years? 

It's because this Twitter isn't that Twitter.
  • Twitter is no longer a playground. 
The majority of official Twitter accounts have become very corporate in their attitude and style. They're unwilling to make jokes, play with words, or respond to queries—whether the questions are teasing or legitimate.

And a lot of Twitter is about yelling at other people. If it's a playground, it's a playground populated with a lot of bullies. There might be room to play around the edges, but it's impossible not to overhear the loud arguments taking place in the vicinity.
  • Twitter is no longer a viable means to self-promotion.
I never had a tremendous following. It peaked near 2,000 followers. All the same, many of those followers would engage with the Shakespeare content on Twitter (one of my most popular tweets was from early in the pandemic and was only tangentially related to Shakespeare) and (to a lesser extent) with the material on the Bardfilm blog. But with the general flight (ha!) from Twitter and from the way Twitter has changed over the years, there's very little payoff.
  • Twitter's administration is making whimsical decisions that lead to uncertainty.
I don't think I would be in danger of reading more than the allotted number of tweets, but, even if I were, I wouldn't pay for that dubious privilege. But there are those who wouldn't pay for it but would reach it—and they might reach the limit right before getting to my most important tweet of the day.

I also don't think that the way the management is trying to monetize Twitter is going to work. I don't have a solution, but charging for more tweets, charging for a blue checkmark, or charging for anyone—Twitter subscriber or not—to be able to view Tweets (that last one was a belayed policy) isn't working and won't work, especially as more and more people leave the platform.
  • The "Upgrade" to the Tweetdeck™ interface has made it ridiculously difficult to use.
There are probably third-party interfaces that would be better, but I can't be bothered. But the upgrade to Tweetdeck can probably be counted the straw that broke the camel's back. It should be a set of smallish, narrow columns with a simple "Clear Tweets" button at the top of each (together with a button to change more advanced settings). Instead, it's columns so big and wide that two barely fit on my relatively-wide screen. And if you want to clear tweets, you have to open the entire preferences column—itself very nearly as wide as a feeds column. Before the "upgrade," it wasn't great (you had to open the preferences to clear tweets . . . they changed that before Tweetdeck was bought by Twitter, actually), but it was useable. But the current interface is horrible and horrific.

Where, then, will we find Bardfilm in the future?

First of all, here! Set a daily (or at least a weekly) bookmark or put Bardfilm into an RSS feed reader and join the conversation!

Second, I've been on Instagram for a while. It lacks the back-and-forth of early Twitter, but please find me there and start a conversation in the comments!

I'm also trying Threads to see if it will be a playground that will also allow for self-promotion. At present, though, it's deeply frustrating. I would like to see posts only from people I follow. Instead, my feed is filled with people and organizations I've never heard of and never want to hear from. If that becomes something users can control, I'll be there often. If not, my activity there will dwindle.

Mastodon, I'm finding, is doing a much better job of fitting my criteria. I'm likely to be more and more active there. But the one thing it doesn't yet have . . . is you! Please join me for conversation there!

I'm going to miss the voices I've been listening to on Twitter—especially those I've followed for ten or more years. But I'm no longer going to be there regularly. I may still post the occasional "Now at Bardfilm" tweet . . . or I may just let ShakespeareGeek's account remind you about new posts automatically.

Or I might try to do better at Redditing. The r/Shakespeare often has interesting questions and comments.

I look forward to engaging with you in one or more of these venues. It's great fun to have fun with Shakespeare. Let's find a way to keep playing.

Links: Bardfilm on InstagramBardfilm on ThreadsBardfilm on Mastodon Bardfilm on Blogger. Bardfilm on Twitter (mainly an archive from 2006 to 2023). Shakespeare on Reddit.

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Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
All material original to this blog is copyrighted: Copyright 2008-2039 (and into perpetuity thereafter) by Keith Jones.

The very instant that I saw you did / My heart fly to your service; there resides, / To make me slave to it; and, for your sake, / Am I this patient [b]log-man.

—The Tempest