This blog explores the recent history of Elon Musk's purchase of Twitter. I am going to start using Twitter on the hope that Musk's Twitter is different. To start this off I am doing an Advent series of 3d model pictures. Details follow.
My Twitter History
I originally signed up for Twitter in July of 2018. I was interested in learning the platform and intended to follow Jordan Peterson, in particular. He was stirring up controversy as he was fighting the woke mob.
I knew there was trouble with Twitter the moment I signed up. I gained a follower myself without having told anyone I had set up an account. Remember the rule that I have covered here many times. Time correlation is a POWERFUL tool for finding problems in otherwise complex systems.
How, for example, could a real human have discovered I'd signed up with Twitter? How could a real human then decide to follow me, a stranger, within moments? The answer is no. No human could be following me.
I joked at the time that 100 percent of my followers must be bots.
As Musk has said so many times, the place is riddled with them.
So I started following Jordan just to see how this worked. But within days there was more trouble, the banning of Alex Jones.
For those who don't know, Alex Jones is an alternative news source. He does televised and live stream alternative news. Trump, for example, was one of his regular guests in the 2016 election cycle. His video channel is typically broadcast on rural TV stations. He's more well known from his websites, especially these days, Infowars.
He is not afraid to deal with trouble that makes the political world cringe. He takes flack from all sides of the political spectrum. But, remember a principle when thinking about someone like Jones. You only take flack when you are over the target. The fact that anyone in the political world says anything about him means they fear him.
In any case, in 2018, soon after I signed up for Twitter, 17 tech platforms, including Twitter, banned Alex Jones. Most made their announcements on the same day, a Friday if my memory serves. The rest of that bunch made their announcements of his banning on the following Monday.
Remember the most important systems debugging rule? Time correlation usually means there is a single mode of action behind the event in question. You can use this to debug massive factories, 3d printers, computers, unruly kids and political hacks, not to mention prophetic headlines.
That rule told me something very, VERY important. With 17 supposedly different companies all banning Jones at the same time, they had to be working together. They were functioning as a single unit. They could NOT have been following any standard independent internal procedures for deciding to ban him. They had to be taking an external cue. Maybe 1 of them followed an internal process, but not the rest.
I am not a lawyer, of course, but this is symptomatic of the RICO family of criminal behaviors. In other words, those 17 companies are an organized crime ring. With Twitter, of course, being part of that ring.
Our material is not of the same nature as Jones. Our headline work is based on time correlations of scripture to headlines. So we are naturally hated by the secular world at large because the Bible cannot possibly function that way. We are also hated by the Church world for using the Bible to smash their conventional wisdom. We are also hated by the political world because our tooling is conceptually able to call them out more accurately than anything Jones could dream up. We are also hated because we have the audacity to think we might be able to fix the text.
So there was no reason to remain on Twitter. The same thing would obviously eventually happen to our work as happened to Jones. It turns out, we were right about Alex Jones. He was only the first. Like a rabid dog who had tasted blood, Twitter went on to ban thousands of more conventional users.
I never signed in to Twitter again. Until, that is, after Musk's purchase of Twitter had closed.
Musk has admitted that he is on the autism spectrum of mental disorders. This is why he is such a genius and has been so successful. It also means he will be moody. Many people who have worked closely with Musk attest to this pattern.
I grew up with a sister whom I now believe was also on that autism spectrum. This was never diagnosed formally in her case. It took me years as an independent adult to see some of her behaviors as caused by her autism spectrum disorder. It took another relative, who knew her well, to crack the riddle of her strange behaviors. It was that relative who identified her various problems as being caused by an autism disorder.
Having grown up that way, I was instinctively trained to handle coworkers who were on that spectrum. But, it meant I would not see as strange some mood related behaviors. Some of my management peers were much quicker at this. They were not as able to instinctively cope with these sometimes strange behaviors.
Musk's coworkers, who get along with him well, likely have similar instincts and know how to handle those moods. Musk also gets flack for this, which is not well deserved.
I suspect Musk made his decision to buy Twitter on one of those mood swings that would be typical of his autism. He was 'out of his mind' if you will. Most importantly it would have seemed the right thing to do without having done any due diligence. This is why he famously said he was doing this because it was the right thing to do. This may be why he seriously overpriced his offer for Twitter.
Once his mental state returned to normal, he tried to back out of the deal, as he admitted recently in an interview. I suspect his lawyers told him he would not win in court, so he decided to close on his purchase. By late October he was the new owner and boss of the crime scene known as Twitter.
Because Musk funded much of his purchase with massive bank loans he is under pressure to get Twitter to earn enough to not only be cash flow positive, but to also cover interest payments. Since the date of his offer, the Federal Reserve has been raising rates, so this is more of a problem than he faced at first.
In crisis situations like this he must slash costs, especially payroll. Accurate numbers on this point are hard to track, but it looks like 1/2 of the regular payroll and over 1/2 of the contractors are all now gone. Severance lasts into early 2023, so the cash flow problem continues for awhile.
Musk sees the company as fundamentally 2 points of value, a computer server business and a software business. He used the Tesla AI team as a reference. 150 people there are out competing 3000 person teams at other companies. So everyone should take that as a hint. He will not stop reducing staff until the core tech team is within that sort of size.
He brought in 50 people that he already knows, and trusts, from his other companies. Those people will be his eyes and ears as they crawl through the entire Twitter business. It may be early next year before he gets out of crisis mode and knows what is really going on across all of Twitter itself.
Many people, including myself, want to see him regularly wandering the halls of Tesla and Space X again here soon. He should be able to dictate what he wants to his software team at Twitter and not spend so much time there. Tesla and Space X, by contrast, are actually making real things. That is very much more difficult than just writing code.
The value of certain network related businesses are driven by the number of nodes on the network they run. This was first seen with the number of towns served by railroads in the 1800s. The value of some networks can be as extreme as the factorial of the number of nodes. In any case, in most networks, the value to each node goes up faster than the number of nodes.
Airlines are the same way. The more city pairs served, the more valuable the airline, especially if served through hubs, because every traveler has more reachable destinations.
Twitter's economics is similar. It appears to be based on the number of active users on the platform. For advertisers, of course, this is just a linear number fixed to the user base.
But, the value to each user goes up faster than that as the user base grows. Why? Because they have more interesting people to follow.
So it is in Musk's great interest to grow the user base as large as possible. He also wants as many interesting people, content creators, as possible. This fundamental of the business means that banning people is almost always a terrible idea.
Musk has been talking up how many users he could eventually lure to the platform. If he plays it well, maybe 1 billion is possible. That is how he drives the value of the company and how he might recover his investment. He does that by keeping people happily using the platform.
After the first few days of crisis, Musk soon turned his attention to banned users. The users that matter most are those who are interesting enough to attract followers. That means controversial users are especially important.
The banning of Donald Trump, for example, not only dropped the value of Twitter to every other Twitter user, it created the Truth Social competitor to Twitter at the same time. Trump effectively took millions of Twitter users with him when he left.
Imagine an airline deciding not to serve Chicago because they did not like the mayor? The vacuum of that departure would obviously be filled in by other airlines. This is what happened with Trump and his Twitter ban.
Management at old Twitter were not managing the business for commercial success. They failed at the fiduciary responsibility they had to their share holders. Musk is said to have fired former managers for cause. This would be one such reason.
Musk eventually began reinstating people whom Twitter had banned over the past several years. The great bulk of them are on the political right. For awhile he was doing this on a case-by-case basis.
He probably has not yet found the RICO mechanism that banned Alex Jones. Anyone running that sort of racket usually has planned cover, so a bunch of brats at Twitter could be used to gloss over the RICO or similar crime evident at Jones' banning.
In any case, Musk seems to have noticed that most banned users were banned because of politics and because of a large following. He eventually turned to the idea of a blanket amnesty.
He adeptly used a Twitter poll in order to shift responsibility from himself to the crowd of millions of Twitter users who voted in agreement. Twitter users want interesting people to follow, it is in their collective interest. It is how the platform creates value for them.
So Twitter is slowly returning to what it was before 2018, when more or less anyone could use the platform. Only after that poll was it now time for me to think again about using Twitter.
Back To Twitter
So I went to see if my old Twitter account was still there. In a well managed place they should have swept it up and purged it after 4 years of no activity. I should not have been as surprised as I was to find it still there.
It was showing me current tweets from my subscriptions from 2018. Jordan Peterson has not aged well. Though he can hold an audience preaching on the Bible, he has not read it very well. But I digress.
So I am going to experiment with Twitter for a season. After getting some real practice then we can decide if it is worth keeping it around. I've got an inspiration for what I am going to try. Let me explain.
Ryan and I were once suddenly sent to Disneyland. We were living in Oklahoma and were given a few days warning to get to the park in California the following Saturday. We packed our stuff, drove I-40 to California and we walked into the park on an otherwise normal park day, or so we thought.
Turns out Disneyland puts on an annual massive Christmas event. They build a huge choir with singers picked from schools around the area. Then they use a well known Disney TV personality to read the birth story from Luke. With those 2 ingredients they put on quite a show in town square, just inside the main entrance.
We had been prophetically sent to Disneyland to attend that show. It was perhaps the last day we ever spent at the park.
We asked Joshua about Christmas. Christmas is not in the book. It is a little strange given the cruft of the holiday. It is named after Catholic mass. Mass is called out in the book as something to avoid. So we asked. Joshua said he likes the fame. He said he doesn't care about the cruft, cruft is not important, fame is.
The season of Advent is the month, or so, ahead of Christmas. It is usually celebrated in the western branches of Christianity. It can start in late November and run for an entire month, but more commonly starts December 1 and runs 24 days until Christmas Eve, or 25 days until Christmas day. (The western Church is fractured, for sure.)
As a kid I remember Advent calendars. They were big printed multilayer cardboard things that hung on the wall. There were little doors for each day leading up to Christmas. 1 door was opened each day for a picture of something hidden inside. The geekiness of the things were always interesting to me. I had trouble with the daily discipline needed to open the doors.
My grandmother would give me these calendars at Thanksgiving for the following Advent season. She was born in Germany. Advent calendars are thought to have originated there, so she may have seen this as a way to share her heritage.
So I am going to follow in her footsteps and use Twitter for an online daily Advent calendar.
So I just finished up 2 months of 3d work related to the map of Eden. Across that map are a huge number of interesting scenes. One of those is a 3d version of the Qu Map. It shows the alphabet in order and it displays models as formed by the letters.
So this year for Advent I am Tweeting a picture of a prototype for the various scenes from that part of the map. I have taken the models as found on the big map and given them standalone bases for the individual letters. This includes a skirt around the bottom of each. For 5 of the models there is a river that runs through, just as on the larger models.
I will explain Qu Map and letter details in these tweets as we go.
These will probably become 3d printable models on the bom.paleo.in website. Though I have not yet prepped the designs for printing. I am working on a complete redesign of the bom.paleo.in website. More on that when I know.
This model set is interesting for Advent because there are 25 letters in the set, just enough for 1 per day.
The first Tweet went out December 1, 2022. The rest will follow, 1 per day, with the last, the Quad, Joshua's letter, on Christmas day.
Use the link above if you want to follow along.
I have added my Twitter account to the social section on the main page at paleo.in if you want to find it again in the future.
Christmas is coming,