No wonder I’m never voted the “best local radio personality”

Sarcastic? Moi?

WQED-TV posted a photo of Liberty Avenue in Pittsburgh from the 1970s on Facebook, which prompted a viewer named Cindy to lament that was “Back when the city was safe (and) good.”

Yes, Liberty Avenue in Pittsburgh was well-known for being safe in the 1970s. Why, hardly anyone ever bothered the prostitutes or drug dealers that worked there.

It brings to mind a joke from Jack Bogut: “One night on Liberty Avenue, someone tried to sell me some pornography, but I told them I didn’t have a pornograph to play it on.”

As most native Pittsburghers know — as long as you’re over the age of 45, but don’t yet have Fox News brain-rot — Liberty Avenue was the city’s notorious red-light district in the 1970s. If there was something illegal in the 1970s, you could probably find it on Liberty Avenue. Once the original David L. Lawrence Convention Center opened in 1979, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, the convention and visitors’ bureau and the city broke their backs to clean up Liberty Avenue, and have been more or less successful.

Anyway, remember back in the 1970s, when Liberty Avenue was safe? Those were the days. Mister, we could use a man like Dante “Tex” Gill again.

In other news, I haven’t tried “Threads,” the newest alternative to Twitter. It’s hooked to Instagram, and I don’t have an Instagram account, either — and since Instagram is owned by Facebook, I’m in no particular hurry to sign up for Instagram and Threads and throw any more of my personal information into Mark Zuckerberg’s all-encompassing maw.

Also, the name “Threads” sounds like a store that sells cheap T-shirts that fall apart after one trip through the washing machine. You know, one of those stores you used to find only at the mall, like “Lids,” or “Misc.,” or “Wicks ‘n Sticks.”

Either that, or a head shop that advertised on WYDD. “Where’d you get that bong?” “Threads, man, on East Carson Street.” “Oh, wow, that’s where I got my blacklight posters.”

Punk, one-half of the duo that produces “The Electric Crush” on Tube City Online Radio, points out there actually are at least four stores in the Pittsburgh area with “Threads” in their name.

He found them by searching on, uh, Facebook.

I also haven’t tried “Bluesky,” another Twitter competitor, recently launched by Jack Dorsey, who was the CEO of Twitter until it was sold to you-know-who.

I’m inclined to agree with Ed Burmila of the Gin & Tacos blog, who argued this week on Patreon (paywall) that the social media era is just about over:

“Is it over in the sense that social media will cease to exist? Obviously not. Is it over in the sense that, like the internet itself, all of its early promise to do and be great things has degenerated into an underwhelming and deeply flawed reality, then the answer might be positive.”

Facebook and Twitter became important, he points out, because they were so big, and so many people were using them. Each of the Twitter clone sites — Post, Bluesky, Threads — is running up against the same problem, says Josh Marshall over at Talking Points Memo: “What makes Twitter Twitter is that everyone’s there. It’s a classic case of inertia and network effects, a basic problem of collective action. Even if most of the site’s users would like to be somewhere else, those network effects keep most of them locked in place.”

But bigness for each of the social media apps has caused problems such as trolling and abuse, along with pressure for those apps to turn a profit by selling their users’ personal information. New apps, by comparison, seem better because they’re smaller, so they’re not yet bedeviled by abusers and advertisers (or is that redundant?). Eventually, any app that reaches scale becomes “enshittified,” to use a term coined by Cory Doctorow.

“First, Facebook was good to you: It showed you the things the people you loved and cared about had to say,” Doctorow said. “Then, it started to cram your feed full of posts from accounts you didn’t follow … Today, Facebook is terminally enshittified, a terrible place to be whether you’re a user, a media company, or an advertiser.”

Bluesky is nice, Burmila says … for now: “Pretty much anything can approximate a good online experience if access is throttled. Once anyone and everyone can sign up for accounts (including fake ones, bots, automated accounts, etc., etc.) I foresee (Bluesky) having the same problems as the other social media — with the added additional question that is not being addressed right now of how Bluesky will make money. I’m guessing when we grasp the answer to that question it’ll open the door to most of the same problems Meta and Twitter have.”

I won’t reproduce any more of Burmila’s column, since it’s for paying readers only.

Marshall, like Burmila, thinks the social media landscape is about to become highly fragmented. “I tend to side with the people who think there won’t be a Twitter replacement,” he says. “You’ll have fragmentation without a single place where everyone is.” Or as Burmila said, “TikTok for teenagers, Facebook for retirees, Twitter for fascists, Bluesky for vaguely leftist types, Mastodon for … Mastodon people.”

Marshall says that Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter has had one impressive outcome. “I’ve seen tons of people cheering on Threads and hoping it deals a death blow to Twitter because Musk is such a loathsome and dystopic figure,” he says. “This may be Musk’s greatest accomplishment — making people cheer on Mark Zuckerberg, in its own way a more improbable and challenging feat than creating Space X or developing Tesla.”

Has Elon Musk really made Mark Zuckerberg seem respectable by comparison? Let that sink in.

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