The last days of Twitter
Also: Reflections on Japanese defense policy in the Asia-Pacific
Done. Every single one of your questions answered. I finished them all.
But the newsletter was so long that I decided only to publish one answer, today, and save the rest for later in the week.
On Twitter and Elon Musk
The world is transfixed by the speed with which Musk is destroying Twitter. It’s both hilarious and a horrible thing to watch. For all critics’ affected cynicism, the truth is that Twitter is astonishing: Humanity has never before had a giant, live, pulsating representation of everyone’s thoughts, at every second of the day, everywhere. It’s not just a locus of idiocy and propaganda. It’s a fantastic display of human creativity and wit, a massive, intelligent organism. Its uses are limitless. If you can’t see its astonishing value, you lack imagination. Where else can you think through any problem you care to think about with the help of millions of other people, whenever you want?
You can use it to find and speak to almost anyone you wish—anywhere. Do you need a piano tuner in Chicago? Advice about why your washing machine made a terrible noise? A Congolese parliamentarian to explain the Kivu conflict? Twitter lets you strike up a conversation with pretty much anyone, no matter how elevated his station or remote his location; you need no introduction, no intermediary, to speak to anyone you please, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used it to introduce myself to people I’d never otherwise have had a chance of meeting.
Some have reassured me that Twitter’s in no danger of disappearing. All of this turmoil is perfectly normal, they say, when a company comes under new management and gets rid of the deadwood. Musk is clearly very good at running businesses, they remind me, having created a number of successful ones and thereby made himself the world’s wealthiest man, so he probably knows what he’s doing. As for all the news items indicating otherwise? Whenever a large number of employees are fired, some number of them will go to the media and insist the company will never survive without them. Journalists, who know nothing about tech and are merely vexed by Musk’s politics, are treating these disgruntled sources uncritically.
Some of these points are sound. But I’m not persuaded.