Reclaiming Twitter

Approximately six months ago, I was at a crossroad with Twitter. Unfiltered, it has become too toxic and negative to continue to allow into my life. My dilemma is that, after 11 years on the platform, there are a host of people I’ve never met “IRL” whom I consider friends or with whom I want to maintain a connection. Twitter has always been that connection.

What originally drew me to Twitter was an ease of interacting with a community of technologists and geographers, who shared tools, techniques, and knowledge. Over the years, as Twitter has “grown up” and captured the wider public imagination, in addition to changes in the behavior of the platform itself, the content of my feed has skewed more to the political and the negative – especially after the 2016 election.

This trend seems to apply regardless of ideology. People with opinions that span the political spectrum seem to take to Twitter to leave bite-sized and brash statements that bolster whatever position or candidate they support. In some ways, the structure of Twitter encourages this, even with the advent of longer tweets and threads as first-class citizens.

In the three years since the last election, I’ve become incredibly familiar (more than I ever wanted to be) with the political and social positions of a lot of people I follow, and not a single position has changed or evolved in that time. It has become a digital Forum Romanum, with countless self-styled tribunes shouting speeches into the passing crowd.

I didn’t need to continue to allow this in my life.

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Completing the Model

It has been a truism for some time that GIS enables us to build models of the Earth. Esri Press has even offered a book on geodatabase design called “Modeling Our World” for a while. Traditionally, GIS has given us the ability to model the surface of the earth (in a broad sense), including our effect upon it. That can be extended to subsurface modeling and weather modeling and similar concepts but, in general, GIS has focused on the surface of the earth, plus or minus a few thousand meters or so.

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Twitter Shows Blitz

This past weekend, NFL Sunday to be specific, I was the victim of a TV/internet outage due to a mistake made by a technician while they did some work at the junction box shared by my next-door neighbor and I. As a result, I was unable to watch my beloved Washington NFL franchise hobble to another almost-loss so I had to find another way to keep tabs on the game. Since my internet service was also down, that left me with my BlackBerry Tour as my sole means of connectivity.

I initially started off on the ESPN site, trying to keep track of the action. Finding this unsatisfactory, I switched to MSNBC with the auto-refresh set to 30 seconds. I quickly realized that the information I was getting was woefully behind and quite inadequate. Then I had a different idea.

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