Why would anybody want to microblog?
Great question from my one-time coworker Andras Kornai. That one was submitted via FB recently and I answered it thus
Over the years I built a network of musicians/visual artists on Twitter and Musk wiped it all out. I see a lot of people migrating from there to Bluesky. Twitter is slowly dying – not that it was flawless before, but he turned it into a complete wasteland filled with bigots/racists/bots.
Since FB is not very suitable for long essays, I thought I’d follow-up with an extended version of the same. Question at hand – why blog? Is it simply a waste of time or is there something more to it?
My main Twitter account (@iheartnoise) just might help with answering both of those. Per facts listed, I joined the site in June of 2008, amassed a bit over 11k followers and follow 0 people (that one isn’t true, however). Back before Elon Musk bought the site I could also see how many tweets were made, but I assume Musk scrubbed that metric as irrelevant – the exact number is of less importance than the fact that I tweeted a lot. The excessive tweeting prompted more than a few calls to get back to work on the part of Twitter trolls who I dared to disagree with.
And was Twitter always the integral part of my life? The answer is “no, not really” – in fact, it wasn’t until 2011 or so that I finally started tweeting with some frequency. There was almost certainly no plan in place to amass a legion of followers or become a mini-Twitter celebrity. Yet, both of those things happened and I attribute both to one event – Hassle Fest 7.
Bear with me…for this might get a bit long-winded
Hassle Fest is an extension of Boston Hassle, Boston arts organization that I was a part of back in 2015. I was involved in brainstorming and general volunteering for the 3-day festival that featured David Yow / Flipper as headliners. So what does this have to do with my Twitter following, you may ask?
As part of our brainstorming sessions for the festival we exchanged ideas about how to best reach record labels involved. I figured that tagging them would be one way of accomplishing the goal. Before that my numbers hovered around 1,000 or less followers. Once the festival was underway and done, however, that number ballooned to 2,000+.
Hasslefest, unfortunately, also marked the end of my active involvement with Boston Hassle. The hows and whys are probably best left untold as it was a very unpleasant situation involving multiple parties both online and offline. My online numbers started shrinking yet again. And then it started growing…a bit first at slow and eventually ballooning to 10,000. Again, no special plan involved, but from there on out I knew that there’s a terrific amount of bloggers, musicians, visual artists record labels and just plain fellow weirdos that I could connect with. Said weirdos often had strong artistic skills to go with their personalities, even if commercial success/sales rarely matched that talent.
And therein, I believe, lies an answer to the question posed by Andras. Every single one of us is a weirdo, to some extent or the other. And the best place for us to meet and exchange ideas is social media. We go to the shows, we hang out in person, we talk on FB and DM on Twitter and sooner or later this leads to a collaboration.
Chances are – without social media I would’ve never met my collaborator Thor (aka Petridisch) and I Heart Noise, the namesake label of this blog, would’ve never gotten off the ground and produced physical releases by the likes of Turkish Delight, Skyjelly and Solilians.
Nor would both of us end up traveling extensively through Southern US and documenting festivals like Hopscotch, Moogfest and Big Ears. We would’ve never travelled to UK to cover spaced-themed Blue Dot fest and seeing Jane Weaver, Orbital and even Pixies (yes, that’s Boston legends) perform live. We would’ve never run into or interviewed or connected with brilliant folks like Joel Berk, Shane Parish or Ben Neill. We probably wouldn’t have a radio show hosted by French station or an offline show at Brooklyn’s Pete Candy Store – one that had no place to sit or stand by the end of the night.
I could go on and on about things that would’ve never happened if it wasn’t for Twitter/social media connecting all of us in our perpetual weirdness and providing a place for self-expression. That is not to say there’s only positives to social media blogging – far from it. But up until a certain point it felt that in the end positives outweigh the negatives.
It is doubly disappointing, then, that our corporate/tech overlords are working day and night on making places we visit less usable and more prone to disinformation/bad actors sniffing around – from Twitter to Bandcamp to Google Search.
But we’ll get over all this. I just know we will – whether it will take months or years. Collectively we got more power than we realize and we might suffer setbacks on the way to putting power to work – be it pandemic/COVID or Elon Musk
disrupting ruining Twitter. None of those will stop us from expanding our networks and moving forward with shows, records and finding solutions to problems. It is up to us to rebuild the things ruined by corporate greed. Lets get to work.