Where is the Town Square?

post by Gretta Duleba (gretta-duleba) · 2024-02-13T03:53:18.205Z · LW · GW · 8 comments

This is a question post.



I am seeking crowdsourced wisdom.

Suppose I[1] want to influence public opinion on a complicated, nuanced topic.[2]

And further suppose that one of the ways I want to do that is by participating actively in public discourse: posting short-form content, reacting to other people's short-form content, signal boosting good takes, thoughtfully rebutting bad takes, etc.

Suppose that the people I most want to reach are those who make and influence policy in places like the US, EU, UK, and China; the general voting public (because they vote for legislators); and the intelligentsia in fields related to my topic (because some of them advise policymakers).

On what platform(s)/in what outlet(s) should I be doing this in 2024? "And, since I can't do everything: what popular platforms shouldn't I prioritize?

And more specifically, does Twitter/X still matter, and how much? I am aware that many people have moved to mastodon or bluesky or whatever. Is there critical mass anywhere?

  1. ^

    who happen to be the Communications Manager at MIRI

  2. ^

    The topic is AI x-risk.



Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by interstice · 2024-02-13T04:05:49.573Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think twitter is still the closest thing to a global town square. This post by Tyler Cowen is good on the topic.

Replies from: Mitchell_Porter, spencerb
comment by Mitchell_Porter · 2024-02-13T19:47:13.250Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If she wants worldwide reach, she might want accounts on WeChat and Telegram too. 

comment by spencerb · 2024-02-13T08:10:58.544Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I agree. Mastodon will remain on the outskirts in the same way that Whatsapp continues to dominate alternatives like Signal despite clear privacy advantages. Network size trumps any other feature for a social network.

comment by the gears to ascension (lahwran) · 2024-02-13T08:37:31.316Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

bluesky and twitter. You need to dual-track drift to get both sides now. the fact that you need to dual-track drift means you'll get clearer signal of the two main political perspectives. I personally don't touch twitter with a ten foot pole now, but it is where more powerful people are at the moment. if you want a strong connection to public opinion you really can't skip bsky though. (it's also just way nicer for having discussions with a crowd due to the custom feeds.)

Replies from: shankar-sivarajan
comment by Shankar Sivarajan (shankar-sivarajan) · 2024-02-14T00:24:14.717Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


Really? Or is this trying to wishcast it into relevance/popularity?

Replies from: lahwran
comment by the gears to ascension (lahwran) · 2024-02-14T00:31:04.907Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It depends on your intentions: if you're trying to find the merely most popular thing, it's still twitter. But you'll have a much harder time being noticed by groups that twitter has been modified recently to disfavor. As a result, mastodon and bluesky have grown somewhat; bluesky has the advantage over mastodon that it's very fast and scalable, and as such my impression at the moment is that it's growing faster. But it's definitely still an underdog. If you want to talk directly to people, find the people you want to talk to on whatever platform they're on and talk directly to them. But if you want to talk to groups, I'd say there's not one town square, but one per platform. And bluesky being mainly progressive folks means that if you want to talk to progressive folks, it's a much better place to go than twitter right now.

The reason I used the phrasing "if you want a strong connection to public opinion you can't skip" is because I expect twitter is obvious and a given, but the strong difference in cultures is causing enough people to not stay on twitter that only using twitter means you're missing people based on their opinions on divisive topics.

comment by Alex_Altair · 2024-02-14T14:57:49.847Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

And, since I can't do everything: what popular platforms shouldn't I prioritize?

I think cross-posting between twitter, mastodon and bluesky would be pretty easy. And it would let you gather your own data on which platforms are worth continuing.

comment by Ricki Heicklen (bayesshammai) · 2024-02-13T19:13:34.602Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

[mod hat] I moved this from "post" to "question," but if that seems incorrect feel free to change it back.