The Last Social Network

We could have prevented a lot of damage and waste, with the "new" "social network" called Binky. Binky that dispenses with illusion that social networks give us useful information that we need to check frequently; Binky exists solely to pacify. But Binky's designed to never disappoint or enrage its users - and all your likes and comments disappear into the ether.
Binky is a social network app with no network and no socializing. And yet, Binky is not just as satisfying as “real” social apps like Twitter or Instagram, but even more satisfying than those services. Its posts are innocuous: competent but aesthetically unambitious photos of ordinary things and people. Should binkers feel the urge to express disgust at Linus Paulding or Lederhosen, they can swipe left, and Binky accommodates without consequence. And the app doesn’t court obsession by counting followers or likes or re-binks. 
There’s a use of cigarettes beyond their chemical effects. Smoking gives people something to hold and something to do with their hands. McLuhan called it poise. And smartphones offer something similar. At the bus stop, in the elevator, in front of the television, on the toilet, the smartphone offers purpose to idle fingers. To use one is more like knitting or doodling than it is like work or play. It is an activity whose ends are irrelevant. One that is conducted solely to extract nervous attention and to process it into exhaust.

Social media is a little like smoking - it started with the elites and spread everywhere, then the elites got wise. Maybe that's what's happening now with social media too. The elites are now (belatedly) treating social media like a cesspool, but the masses are adopting it wholeheartedly. Perhaps Binky will be the Nicorette or e-cig that weans people off their destructive addiction. 

Paul Ford’s not sentimental

Well, when I was thinking up and writing my last post, Paul Ford was writing this, on the occasion of 20 years of blogging:

I took it very seriously for many years and it earned me thousands of readers, thousands of emails, and tons of opportunity. It was better at generating opportunity than money. I drifted away for all the regular reasons. 
I had many thoughts about how to mark this moment and all of them were self-indulgent and exhausting. What I do is completely relevant and alive, thank you, and what was lost was lost. People keep expecting me to be wistful and nostalgic. But there was no innocence or purity. Not ideologically, politically, textually, technologically, sexually, or personally. Everything powered by ambition comes with compromise and taint, and is made under ridiculous circumstances. Everything good is transmuted from grudge-fueled self-doubt into something that other people love and criticize, knowing they could do better if given the time and resources.
That's a pretty economical encapsulation, looking back from my mid-career perspective. The ending is also quite a kicker.


Six (!) years ago I collected a lot of my writing from EPMonthly and Medscape, in links on Tumblr. I thought it looked pretty spiffy, and that I was establishing a beachhead on the next big platform. That didn't exactly work out. I had a splash page to organize my online web presences, but they closed down.

I set up a Medium account a while back, but haven't done a great job of maintaining that, either. This morning I cross-posted a few of my recent articles for EPMonthly and Telemedicine Magazine to Medium - they make it easy to import, and I like how the retrospective on pagers turned out. Maybe it'll get some claps.

Why not use Blogger more? I was thinking about this the other day, as I set up yet another health app blog. When I dashed off the first entry and clicked Publish, Blogger yielded to Google Plus, and I was prompted to share my writing amongst my Circles. I audibly groaned.

First, those Circles haven't been updated since 2012 or so. But most importantly, this latest post was intended for a finely-tuned audience of health app users; not my circle of high school friends or workplace acquaintances. The folks in these Circles, in fact, have never been the audience for this blogging.

An under-appreciated aspect of the blogging scene of the 00's was that we were essentially writing in the dark. The audience might show up, or might not. You could register with Technorati and other indices to popularize your stuff, or try to find an audience with Grand Rounds or other carnivals. But if you didn't want to, that was ok too.

I guess I got used to that environment - because the idea of putting each new blog post in front of old friends and acquaintances, like Google Plus suggests, seems pretty abhorrent. It's probably discouraged my blogging, over the years - certainly on this platform. Imagine if, at the end of each day, a publisher took the output from an aspiring novelist and asked, "are you ready to share this with your family and high school friends?"

Maybe it's time for (sigh) yet another platform. Fortunately, I have a home at EPMonthly (and Telemed Mag) that will continue to inspire and encourage my writing.