Marie and I talk about what’s going on in the world of social media, and what that might mean for CodePen and front-end developers. Twitter doesn’t feel particularly healthy at the moment, but has been the biggest player for front-end developers for a lot of years. Are we moving? Not? Where?

Time Jumps

  • 00:14 Zeitgeist
  • 01:55 WTTwitter
  • 04:11 Frustration with Twitter
  • 06:55 Twitter is where you find out what’s happening
  • 09:34 Why are we talking about Twitter?
  • 12:58 Mastodon
  • 24:30 Going to Reddit
  • 27:37 RSS and blogging
  • 35:15 CodePen is social, but not a new Twitter


[Radio channel adjustment]

Announcer: Today, on CodePen Radio.

Chris Coyier: What's up, everybody? CodePen Radio 390.

I asked Marie. Hi, Marie.

Maria Mosley: Hey, everybody.

Chris: What we should talk about, and she's like, Zeitgeist.

Maria: [Laughter] I said it in that voice too.

Chris: Yeah.

Maria: [Laughter]

Chris: Just an old movie preview guy voice. And the biggest thing in our world, I guess, is Twitter stuff, which there's no shortage of podcast talking about, but that's okay. It's interesting. It's interesting stuff.

Forever the news was, "Elon Musk, the guy who does Tesla and Space-X and fire throwers and tunneling companies. Notable internet entrepreneur and questionable influencer."


Chris: Is going to buy Twitter. What a weird thing. But everybody is like, "Oh, of course, he wants to buy it because he's rich. Then he'll own it. It's his favorite toy in the world. Doesn't everybody want to buy their favorite toy?"

Whatever. It was news forever - weeks and months and months and months. And a rollercoaster. Is he going to get it? Is he going to not?

Then all of a sudden, he owned it.


Chris: You're like, "Oh, gees. Okay. Well, that happened." Just immediately, it was more dramatic than anybody could have ever thought. You know? He's firing everybody. He's changing policies, reinstating people, banning other people, making contradictory statements. It's just crazy. Every day is just new (it's tempting to say) insanity. It's tempting to say something more podcast-appropriate or something.


Maria: [Laughter] Yeah. No, I mean I have plenty of things I could say, but I'm being recorded, so... [Laughter]

Chris: [Laughter] Yeah.

Maria: I'm going to play it cool.

Chris: Well, because part of me always wants to see some kind of - I don't know - gray middle ground or something like - I don't know - we knew that Twitter was really, really, really unprofitable forever. You can't just run a company that makes negative millions of dollars forever.

If there's a new owner, isn't the expectation that everything is going to run a little differently now? Isn't it his literal job to save it from this embarrassing fate of being this long-running company that makes no money?

It's no public utility. It's a publicly traded company that makes no money. That's crazy.

The fact that he plans to fire people, sucks as that is, part of me is like, "Ah, well, okay." You know? You've got to do some dramatic stuff. But to do it on week one with no notice and have the people that he's firing be like, for example, the accessibility team.

Maria: Yeah.

Chris: It's like, what? [Laughter]

Maria: Yeah, entire important teams who were doing very good work and fired in a very disrespectful way. You read about how they found out, how they were let go, and the entire process. I mean it was not cool.

Chris: Yeah.

Maria: That's not -- that shouldn't go down like that at all. You know?

Of course, we have an example, a counter-example in what went on at Stripe at the same time, which they must have been thrilled to have this news riding on the top of their layoffs.

Chris: They look like absolute saints, what they're doing.

Maria: Exactly. Yeah, by comparison.

Chris: I mean they're still firing people, but very respectfully and with a great severance package.

Maria: Yep.

Chris: A proper apology and things like that.

Maria: Yeah. I mean adjustments happen. That's business. But there are different ways to approach it, and we're seeing an extreme case of, you know, something that will probably be studied from many different angles forever.

Chris: [Laughter] Probably.

Maria: At least you can have the extreme case that is the worst-case example that we can look back on, so there's that.


Chris: Yeah, so it hasn't all shaken out yet. You've been saying this too, so credit where credit is due. You saw the doom and gloom coming, and I think you were right.

Maria: Yeah. And surely I wasn't the only one. I think a lot of people have been extremely frustrated with Twitter for a very long time.

A couple, like back last summer, you and I were talking about what was trending on CodePen, and we digressed a little bit at the beginning of the show. We were talking about a shift in social media that we were both noticing that people were kind of pulling back from the classic social media, which is a place where you make a post and just about anybody can see it and just about anybody can react to it and take it off in its own direction.

Chris: Right.

Maria: We had noticed people starting to shift away from that anyway and move into things like Discord. We talked about the idea of purpose-built social networks, which CodePen is one. It's all about the front end. You know?

That was something that we were talking about 18-ish months ago, so it's certainly been in the wind. You wouldn't figure it would go down like this, that there would be this clear breaking-off point where people can just say, "Oh, yeah. Okay. I am done, done-done, and I'm never coming back here. And we should all go look at what else is around because I don't want to be here, and you probably don't want to be here either." You know?

Chris: Yeah. Perhaps the biggest movement like that ever. There's been smaller ones, I'd say.

Maria: Absolutely. Yep.

Chris: I can't even remember what all the circumstances, but many over the years, like, "Oh, we've got to get out of this place."

Maria: Mm-hmm.

Chris: What tends to keep people, I think more people are willing to admit it now because the reasons for leaving are so much stronger and yet they're still not doing it. I haven't, for example. You have, so everybody is different.


Maria: Oh, well -- yeah, but of course, I had already taken my leave before.

Chris: Right.

Maria: I took off more than a year ago. Shortly after I did that podcast, I think.

Chris: Right.

Maria: Because I was just done with it. And everybody's experience with it has been so different that I think that we kind of have hit a convergence point here where lots of people who have lots of different reasons are all saying, "Uh-uh. I'm done with this." [Laughter]

Chris: Some are and some aren't. I think some are thinking about it, you know, because I follow lots of people, and there are certainly lots of talking about Twitter.

I see more, like, "Hey, isn't this Elon bastard crazy?" than I do "I'm outa here."

Maria: Mm-hmm.

Chris: And so, I think we're seeing an exodus, but it's not in full force yet - for whatever reason. It doesn't seem like it to me.

People are saying, "I'm addicted to this place. I'm not leaving." I've seen plenty of that too.

Maria: Yeah. Yeah.

Chris: I'm onboard until it...

Or an even funnier take, which is like, "Let's stay so we can ruin it."


Maria: Right. Yeah.

Chris: Which is... I'm not sure how effective that would be.

Maria: Or the pre-catastrophe vibe. You know? You get to hang out and just see everybody kind of discuss the disaster as it happens because that's the other thing that's kind of funny is that this is where people find out what's happening. That's undeniable.

Chris: Right.

Maria: When something is going on in the present moment and you want to know what's happening and what other people are thinking and the jokes that other people are making about what is happening, you go to Twitter.

Chris: That's the place for it.

Maria: That's where it's happening. And so, in real-time, to see a social network discuss possibly its own demise is pretty fascinating. So, yeah, when you see him tweet.

And you know this morning he tweeted. I'm saying this on November 8th. Who knows if it's even around by the time this one airs, but you know he tweets on November 8th, "Oh, you know, Twitter is at an all-time high of activity."

And it's like, "Yeah, okay." [Laughter] People might just be watching it burn. You know?

Chris: Yeah. Yeah.

Maria: It's kind of funny to see. It's funny, and that's something that's always drawn people to Twitter. It's hilarious. When crazy stuff is going on, it gets even funnier. Of course, everybody is like, "Let me see this."

Chris: Sticking around to see it? Yeah.

Maria: "Let me see this." Yeah.

Chris: I almost clicked "follow" on Elon himself. I've not found it necessary to do so because it's like everything he says is just immediately news.

Maria: He's everywhere. Yeah. [Laughter]

Chris: That it's like why bother following him, but I actually went to his profile the other day. He tweets more than I've seen, but I'm like, "Ah, I can't do it. I can't actually click it," because I do actually disagree with most things he's doing with the platform. I wouldn't want it to be read as any kind of endorsement because, gees, man.


Maria: To me, yeah. Also, it's real. It's like a horror story or a cautionary tale where it's like this person was the richest man in the world, and he's on Twitter. That's terrifying to me. If I had that kind of money, nobody would even know who I was.

Chris: [Laughter] Yeah?

Maria: You think I'd be tweeting? Forget it. You know?

Chris: Be on your own personal river on an innertube?

Maria: Sure. Yes.

Chris: Diamond sunglasses. Yeah, man.

Maria: [Laughter]

Chris: People have done some really great jobs of retiring. Those are fun stories to read, you know? Like the original Myspace Tom, or whatever.

Maria: Yeah. Myspace Tom.

Chris: He's a great one.

Maria: He looks like a genius compared to everyone here. I don't know anything about him. That's fantastic. He must be having a wonderful life. God bless him. Congratulations, Myspace Tom.

Chris: Yeah. I think he got into taking pictures or something.

Maria: Perfect.

Chris: It's a nice story. I forget it.

Maria: Yeah. That's what you're supposed to do. [Laughter]

Chris: Right. Right. Absolutely. I love that. But you know you get addicted for weird reasons. Whatever. I'm not going to be an apologist here.

Why are we talking about it on this show is kind of because, despite the fact that other... I think it's important to make the point that Twitter is a little bit of a drop in the bucket compared to other social networks like Facebook.

Maria: Mm-hmm.

Chris: It crushes Twitter in how large of scope it is. It's not quite 10x; 5x at least. As far as those things go, Twitter is not the biggest, most important network in the world. It just loves talking about itself.

Maria: Right. Of course.

Chris: ...great news and all that.

Maria: Yeah.

Chris: Anyway, it has bigger... It depends on which subcommunity you're talking about.

Maria: Mm-hmm.


Chris: If you're talking about where are front-end developers talking to each other, it's not fricking Facebook.

Maria: Uh-uh.

Chris: It's not LinkedIn either. I know these things get talked about, like Facebook is bigger. There are more people there, but there are not more front-end developers there.

Maria: No.

Chris: That's for sure.

Maria: Yeah. [Laughter]

Chris: We're talking about it because it's interesting to us because there are a lot of people that, when they make a Pen, they then share it.

Maria: Mm-hmm.

Chris: The point of the thing is to get that URL and share it. And it could be with their coworkers on Slack, and we know that. So, what do we do? We put the right open graph tags and such in there so it expands nicely and do everything we can to make sure that the Slack experience is fine.

Or maybe they're going to put it in a blog post, so we make sure that the experience of putting a Pen in a blog post is cool. We have a WordPress plugin and iFrame copy and paste embeddable. We make sure it worked on Medium. We spent time doing that.

Our default embed code is super important because that one works anywhere, and make sure it works really good. We do that. And we made sure that it works in Discord, which is tricky because they ask for those open graph tags through a weird bot or something that had to be hand-managed through our Cloudflare.

We do the work to make sure that sharing Pens is good because that's what you're going to do with a Pen.

Maria: Mm-hmm.

Chris: But not just sharing. People talk about them and stuff too. Let's say this disintegration [laughter] of Twitter actually happens. I wonder if they've released any data. I'm sure they won't now that it's private.

Maria: No. [Laughter]

Chris: I'm sure none of the graphs are pointed upwards at Twitter at the moment.

Maria: Well, you know, I guess daily actives or whatever is up allegedly. But also, yeah, they're not going to be like, "Whoa! Watch us sink." [Laughter] That is just not going to happen.

Chris: No. Yeah, why would...?

Maria: Especially, it's not publicly traded anymore. They have no duty to do anything at all like that.

Chris: No. Yeah, they don't. I wouldn't share it, even if--

Maria: Well, no.

Chris: All right, but it doesn't feel like it. We have all the reason to believe that front-end developers are going to, less and less, choose to be like, "Let's have an interesting conversation about front-end development on Twitter," anymore.

Maria: Mm-hmm.


Chris: I think, personally -- what do I think is going to happen? I don't think it's going to die super, super soon. I think it's going to hang on for quite a while, and it's going to be weird for a while. I don't know about forever, but it's certainly not looking good.

I guess our plan was to talk about, okay, what now then. Right?

Maria: Yeah. That's the big question mark, and we see people in the front-end community asking this very question of each other. And so, you and I both have kind of stuck our toe in on what the other possibilities are, what other things people are doing, what people are talking about trying out.

Chris: Yeah.

Maria: The big ones--

Chris: What are the big ones? Yeah.

Maria: The big thing that people are talking about right now is Mastodon.

Chris: Yeah. That's kind of a classic, especially for the nerdy circle that we roll in.

Maria: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Chris: Mastodon is nerdy. You've got to self-host an instance of it. You don't necessarily have to. Although, a lot of people do. A lot of people have one-person Mastodons they roll up because there's this fancy word called federated that comes up.

Maria: Mm-hmm.

Chris: I'm not sure I could perfectly explain, so I'm not going to try it. But the point is there is no one Mastodon. There's a whole bunch of Mastodons, and they all kind of talk and interact with each other. Some people like to host one for themselves just because that's the hard-core, indie Web possible way to do it. It means your server has your toots on them, which, "Ugh, I want to vomit."

Maria: [Laughter] You've got to be kidding with that.

Chris: I've heard the new Mastodon -- yeah, the new Mastodon does not say toot anymore. It says post or something.

Maria: That's better.

Chris: Publish or something way better. Yeah.

Maria: I saw a thing that said that you could boost a toot. I was like, "Yeah."

Chris: You're outa here.

Maria: [Laughter] That's it for me.

Chris: What are you, Elon Musk? You know? Jesus.

Maria: [Laughter]

Chris: Anyway... But otherwise, it's very Twitter-like once you set it up. If you just want to use somebody else's server and you just have an account and you log in, it looks a little bit like Twitter. You post stuff. You post images. You post stuff. You can reply. You can boost as a retweet. You click the star, and it's a favorite. It's very similar, intentionally so.

Maria: Mm-hmm.

Chris: To Twitter. But guess what. Because it's federated and everybody is hosting it themselves and all that, there are no ads. There's no - I don't know. There are no trolls because you just remove them from your server then. [Laughter]

Maria: Right. Yeah.

Chris: You can just be like, "Bye. You're gone." You know? The blocking and muting and all that stuff, so in a lot of ways it's a lot better.

What's worse is that it's just jankier. It's slower. It's weirder. It's not as polished.

I will never tell you that using Mastodon is as clean and pleasant and fast of an experience as using Twitter. Maybe that will change over time. I don't know.

Maria: Yeah. I mean there's certainly a lot of new attention to it and a lot of new people joining and checking it out. That type of energy can move change, so who knows.

Chris: It can, and it seems to not care when it's cool and when it's not cool because it's not new. It's been around forever.

Maria: Not at all. Yeah.


Chris: Yeah. The only thing that happens when there's a big "Let's try Mastodon" thing, which there seems to be a little rollercoaster of that all the time, is that sometimes people--

Like if you go to, that's a really big one. They just turned off sign-ups.

Maria: Mm-hmm.

Chris: You'd think exactly what you would not do during an exudence of Twitter, but they're just like, "Well, it's expensive."

Maria: If it's crashing the site or whatever, you know.

Chris: Yeah. Well, I think it's a cost thing.

Maria: Oh, yeah. That makes sense.

Chris: Yeah, and they don't really care. Spin up your own instance if you really care.

Maria: Right. Yeah.

Chris: Interesting. I joined one called I don't think it is open for sign-ups nor will it maybe ever. It's just kind of like a shoot-off of some friends. We're like, "Yeah, we all talk about front end. I'm going to join that one." Maybe it will be at some point for people that really want front end, but I don't know. These things evolve. It has an admin. It's up to the admin. It's not up to me.

Maria: Mm-hmm. Right.

Chris: Even the description in it says, like, "Hey, we encourage you to spin up your own community. Rock and roll. It does not mean you're excluded from ours."

Maria: Mm-hmm.

Chris: "We can all follow each other and talk to each other just like you could anyway."

Okay. Caveat. I signed up for this yesterday, so, "Hmm... Not an expert." You know?

Maria: [Laughter]


Chris: I understand technology enough to talk about it a little bit, but don't take me as some kind of Mastodon expert because I'm not. I have found it very fun immediately, though.

Maria: That's cool.

Chris: Yeah. There are lots of likes and chatting going on. I don't know. People have some kind of renewed energy for it (for some reason).

Also, you can use... The default installation of Mastodon has a front end that you use. But you don't have to use that one. There are all these other websites that are just little API-driven front ends for your Mastodon. Fun.

Maria: That is cool. Yeah.

Chris: I was using one called P-something. I can't even remember now because I just keep trying new stuff.

You go to the app store on my iPhone. I'm sure there's even more on Android, I would think. There's like ten apps, and they all have pretty good reviews and stuff, unlike Twitter where there are a couple. But really, almost everybody just uses the Twitter one because it seems to have the complete feature set. Twitter kind of crapped on developers long ago and made their APIs weird and hard to use and neutered and stuff such that (in my opinion) the third-party experience of Twitter apps sucked. You know?

Maria: Mm-hmm.

Chris: But not for Mastodon. Some of them are straight-up better. Of course, Mastodon likes to talk about Mastodon, so you get threads about which apps are you using and people throwing around advice and stuff in a kind of fun way.

Maria: That's cool.


Chris: Yeah. It reminded me a little bit of when you were showing me around the Web3 universe and how there's just a zillion--

Maria: Don't blow my cover. [Laughter]

Chris: Whatever.

Maria: Yeah. No.

Chris: We talked about it a little bit.

Maria: Yeah.

Chris: Because you know this stuff, so you were helping me understand it. There are a million apps, and I'm not even saying this is the exact thing because certainly wouldn't you say Web3 didn't exactly step up to solve the demise of Twitter for us.

Maria: Well... [Laughter] No, that's a whole other show, isn't it?

Chris: Yeah, I guess.

Maria: But you know, maybe the blockchain does solve this. It has been looking for a problem to solve, so. [Laughter]

Chris: Yeah, maybe.

Maria: Maybe it's this.

Chris: Certainly, there will be people working on it.

Maria: Absolutely not. No. You can't have the blockchain power a social network. I mean the whole point of it is that you can't delete anything ever. It always exists.

Chris: Yeah. Yeah, that's true.

Maria:, you can't solve this with Web3.

Chris: Well, it's a good point.

Maria: But somebody is going to say they can.

Chris: Yeah, sure. I'm sure a VC has already been dispatched for this.

Maria: [Laughter]

Chris: Just to try it, you know, because it's a risk. But yeah, a really slow, immutable database to store tweets.

Maria: Yeah, sure.

Chris: Terrible.

Maria: That'll work.

Chris: Yeah.


Chris: But you can be paid in Ether bucks to tweet.

Maria: Hmm... Yeah. Living the dream. [Laughter]

Chris: Yeah. Well, that was part of the Twitter drama, though, wasn't it? You know, let's extract more money out of the users, which at face value seems kind of correct, right? I think a business that charges people to use the app is usually a pretty strong move. [Laughter]

But in the case of trying to extract $8 from Steven King, and he's just like--

Maria: [Laughter] Yeah.

Chris: "I'm pretty sure I'm the one that delivers value here."

Maria: Exactly. Yeah. It shows a real bizarre misunderstanding of his own product that I just think is pretty fricken hilarious.


Chris: Yeah. So, we talked about Mastodon. It's not going to win, I don't think.

Maria: No, I wouldn't think so. But I don't think that's its goal, and that's kind of what makes it cool.

Chris: Oh, yeah. Definitely not.

Maria: So, I do wonder if we'll start to see an emerging front-end social network happening there where people are kind of intentionally gathering.

Chris: Yeah, perhaps.

Maria: I guess that's kind of the thing that people are probably going to look for as they look for other options and alternatives is a more intentional gathering of people rather than basically just jumping into the middle of everything.

Chris: Right. That movement has already happened, right?

Maria: Yeah.


Chris: That's the Discord thing. I'll just spin up a Discord and have this.

I do feel like there are a couple of different things at work. One of them is, does it replace Twitter in its basic tenants of posting a tweet, which is what Mastodon does?

Maria: Mm-hmm.

Chris: It replaces that. What Mastodon doesn't do is replace the addiction.

Maria: Right, which is good.

Chris: And so, you need to move the addiction, in a way.

Maria: Yeah. Yes. Yeah.

Maria: Yeah.

Maria: Although, I do wonder if this is also a chance for everyone to reevaluate that.

Chris: Well, yeah.

Maria: We've all been inside this addictive experience that kind of hooks into your anger or your interests or whatever or your desire to be noticed by others. Whatever it might be, it grabbed people by the brain and really took over. A certain subset of humans are just very deeply tied in with Twitter.

I think that's part of the reason why it's so dramatic what's happening now. It's just so many people are like, "This is a part of my brain now. I think in tweet length composition. Where do I go next?" You know?

Chris: Right. Almost tricking yourself that there's value to it. That's what gets me because I think it's different for other people. Social cred matters to them - or whatever. But I've always been obsessed with, like, "If I'm good at this and you like me on here that, when the time comes and I have something to sell you, you'll buy it." You know?

Maria: [Laughter] Well, it makes sense because, honestly, the reason we work together is because I saw you on Twitter. And I, of course, was familiar with CSS-Tricks. But when you put out the call for people to write for CSS-Tricks, I'm like, "Well, that's Chris Coyier. He seems like a cool guy. I will reach out."

Chris: Yeah.

Maria: So that connection was made even though we actually didn't really talk much to each other until we actually started working together, or when we were talking about working together. That connection was made because I was aware of you, so awareness of other people is a big part of this too. Understanding and kind of scoping each other out, and then also just building a reputation for yourself.

It's not just for a sale, like an actual true transaction, but you can sell--

Chris: Yeah, it's extracting value of some kind.

Maria: --yourself in other ways. Yeah. Making connections and making a network for yourself, and also evaluating other people who are outside of your network but maybe influence your network.

Chris: Right. Yep.

Maria: It was killer for that. You know? So, it's like to think about what you do without that, where you go without that when it became part of your workflow or your information gathering flow, it's very disruptive.

Chris: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Right. We haven't even talked about journalists and politicians and all this stuff--

Maria: Exactly. Yeah.

Chris: --because we're kind of scoping it to front end.

Maria: Well, yeah, because that's all we really know about is how this affects the front-end world. I can't even imagine. If I was a journalist, pfft, boy, I'd be going bonkers right now.

Chris: Yeah, it'd be tricky. At least you have a guiding principle, which is just follow the fish - or whatever. It's your job to go where the stories are, so you'll find it.


Chris: Okay, so here's a micro story. I have a friend, Karen McGrane, Content Strategy Genius, long, interesting career.

Maria: Yes, she is.

Chris: We used to speak together quite a bit and became kind of friends. She recently got married to somebody she met on Twitter.

Maria: Oh, wow.

Chris: So, that's another kind of social thing that can happen there. There is one CodePen wedding, too. Remember that, back in the day?

Maria: I do. That's a long time ago. Yeah.

Chris: Yeah. pretty cool, though.

Maria: Yeah.

Chris: I was following Karen. It's not just about that. She says, "Sorry for dragging everybody through this, you know, all these wedding tweets about myself because I know what's happening on Twitter. So, here's where I'm going. Reddit."

Maria: Hmm... Okay. Yeah, I'm not surprised by that.

Chris: She says, "I'm really into UX design."

Maria: Yeah.

Chris: So, she's one of the mods of our UX design, which has a really strong, you know, you guessed it, kind of content strategy. At least what we're doing on certain days. This is mostly for intermediate people and up, so the thing isn't overrun by super-beginner stuff all the time, which I think can happen in professional forums.

It looks like it's got a pretty good plan, and I think the conversational nature of Reddit is pretty good. Those content threads of comments on Reddit are just popping sometimes. It's conversation-like. [Laughter]

Maria: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Chris: But it is different because it's a lot of responding and threadedness, so that's weird. It's not quite like a forum. You could see people bailing for forums, but those are kind of different.

I think Discord is different. I don't treat Discord like I treat Twitter.

Maria: Right.

Chris: I struggle to figure out what to say because I'm even an admin of a Discord that we have for ShopTalk Show. I love it. I love the people in there. I love the conversation. But sometimes I have this kind of like desire to be like, "I should just say something, but I don't know what to say." You know? Whereas for some reason on Twitter, it always felt more natural, like, "Oh, I'll just share something with a little comment or something."

Maria: Right. Yeah.

Chris: Which doesn't feel as right to do in the Discord kind of setup, so that's why hence playing with Mastodon, which I found a much more natural extension as a Twitter replacement.

But people are bailing from Mastodon. They're bailing for Reddit sometimes. They're definitely bailing for Facebook just because it's such a big player. People are like, "Yeah, I'll just go back to my old home," you know?

Maria: Right. Yeah. Well, most people already have a built-in network of some sort there.

Chris: Right.

Maria: And no one is ever going to be like, "Oh, haven't been around Facebook lately. You've really missed out." It's just like, "You could just jump right back in there."

Chris: Yeah, it's just the regular old thing.

Maria: It's the same.

Chris: Yeah. You could use LinkedIn a little bit like that, but I don't even know what to say about that. That's just weird. And if you're looking to replace the addiction, Facebook will help you with that. TikTok will help you with that.

Maria: Yeah.

Chris: You could double down on your Instagram if you could find a way to do it with photo or video and stuff. Yeah, it's not like there's going to be this gaping void, so I think your point of, like, maybe the exact Twitter type of social network is maybe over for now.


Maria: Yeah. You do have to wonder. You also have to wonder is this a chance for the glorious return of the blog roll and RSS lifestyle that every Gen-X--

Chris: [Laughter] Oh, you know I want it.

Maria: --and elder millennial nerd is just dreaming of. You know? [Laughter]

Chris: Yeah. Well, I'm already thinking of, like, "Oh, how can I set up my blog to not just auto-tweet but auto-put on Mastodon too?" because like I've already said, my selfishness of all this kind of has to do with value.

Maria: Mm-hmm.

Chris: Like, where can I extract value? I've already turned blogging into money once in my life.

Maria: I noticed. [Laughter]

Chris: Yeah, so I think there's literal value in having your own blog and building an audience there. Not very good for -- I wouldn't call it as a replacement for a social network because it just isn't one.

Maria: Yeah. Yeah.

Chris: The conversation doesn't happen. There's not the likes and boosts and all that crap happens there. But I do think it's very good for you. It's like eating your Wheaties. If what you're looking for is a replacement for the value of Twitter, I think you can get more value by blogging. If you were to set that up personally and do all of your writing and sharing and stuff at a home base, there's value there. You can turn that into money. Maybe not exactly like I did where I just sold it, but if you're going to be invited to conferences.

Maria: Yeah.

Chris: If you want to write a book. If you want clout in the industry. If you want to get a job and have it be a no-brainer that you're going to get that job because you're obviously a thinker and a valuable person. All those chunks of value live in the personal blog or just site of some kind.


Maria: Yeah, so that makes me wonder then if there's a play to be made here by WordPress and Ghost and all of the blogging platforms where they can kind of say, "Hey, you can write a tweet as long as you want here." [Laughter]

Chris: Yep. You can do that on Dev2, as you noticed.

Maria: Right. Yeah.

Chris: You can do that on other developer-focused blogging platforms. You could go to Medium. All of that seems to have imploded in a similar way.

Maria: Yeah. Although, I wonder if this is an opportunity for them to kind of make a comeback.

Chris: Perhaps.

Maria: They're kind of being overshadowed by other platforms, and especially right after the purchase was made. Substack came out with its chat feature, which I think is a very smart play because lots of people were already leaving Twitter to go to Substack.

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Maria: To post in longer form, to post to a paid audience, for example.

Chris: Right.

Maria: Because people have subscribers there. But they've added on this chat feature, which the author of the Substack newsletter has major control over, so it could only be for your paid subscribers or whatever. You have your own--

Chris: Do you trust them for that?

Maria: I mean I don't have a dog in that fight.

Chris: I don't know. I get why they probably blasted it out - for good timing and stuff. But it's like Substack chat is so strange. Why don't you--? I don't know. it better be fricken great. Otherwise, people are going to be like, "Why isn't this a Discord?"

Maria: Maybe. Although, I wonder if perhaps it's a play for an older audience? I think Discord kind of skews a little younger. My 16-year-old is big on Discord. You know?

Chris: Yeah. True.

Maria: But I'm 44, and I'm like, "Discord? Really?" You know? But Substack chat, I don't know. I'll talk to Joyce Carol Oats if she'd let me. You know?


Maria: I don't know.

Chris: Access to these amazing writers, potentially.

Maria: Yeah, that's what I mean.

Chris: Yeah.

Maria: It's a different thing. You know? If Joyce Carol Oats doesn't like what I say, she can kick me out. She wouldn't. She would love me. But you know what I mean.

Chris: BFFs.

Maria: But then also, when I'm talking about places that have made a pitch for this audience specifically,, they did. We'll put a link in the show notes. They made a post that was about making the most of if you have decided to leave Twitter, and I thought that was a really smart play because lots of developers would love to find somewhere else to talk about development that is not Twitter (for lots of reasons, not just what's going on now).

Chris: Right. Yep. There are a couple of others to mention. For whatever reason, it just blows my mind that this became a thing at all. One of the features of Cohost is that you can attach custom CSS to a post.

Maria: Yeah.

Chris: Thus do really strange, weird things. The Verge covered it and all this stuff, like, "Wow. Adding CSS to a post is the main feature of it, and it's important enough that the Verge covered it? My God." [Laughter]

I think it's kind of neat, but it just seems like a little gimmicky thing.

Maria: Yeah. I think it's cute. I signed up. I think it's a cute foray into social networking, and I'd like to see what happens with it, definitely.

Chris: It's not that that's the only thing. It's more interesting that they're like, "We're a small company. You're not going to be the product. We're going to take donations and make sure that this thing works."

Their business model is more interesting than what happens. I tried to play with it the other day, but it was right in the middle of the exodus, and it was unusable.

Maria: They're getting slammed. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah and you know it's nice to have those declarations at the beginning, but it's expensive to run these types of things. It just is, and monetization is the thing that kills many a free thing.

Chris: Yeah. Yeah.

Maria: Or the need to monetize or the lack of monetization are two things that can just kill you. So, it'll be interesting to see what happens there. I wish them all the best.

Chris: Yeah, totally. Right.


Maria: Even Diaspora, that's still around. Do you remember that from--?

Chris: I don't. Literally, I don't remember it. What the hell is it?

Maria: It would have been like 2010, something like that. They were the anti-Facebook. They were the ones who came out with the mainstream concept, like the mainstream coverage went to this concept. I think they called it pods or something like that. Basically, you had your own decentralized thing. It's similar, in fact, to how Mastodon works where you just had your own decentralized identity.

I think, realistically, they were very much ahead of their time, and I wonder if maybe they could take another pass at it and kind of do something new or something inspired by that could happen again. You know?

Chris: Yeah.

Maria: The concept of you basically just having your own identity that you carry around with you and connect to different networks and kind of move around through a social world but completely self-contained. It's an interesting concept. It's never been pulled off. I'd love to see it actually happen.

Chris: Yeah. Right. Any time it asks you to run a server or something, that's not going to happen.

Maria: Yeah. Yeah. It's too difficult. Part of what brought us to the point where we have these monolithic social networks is that they nailed down making it real easy.

Chris: Make it easy. Yeah.

Maria: Yep.

Chris: Which is just crucial.

Maria: And because enough people joined at the beginning and have hung in over time, it's where everybody is. It's very difficult to kind of step into that world or to move away from that world because, if you already know where everyone is, why would you go somewhere else?

Chris: Yeah.

Maria: It is interesting to see an inciting incident like this, which could cause people to scatter. I'm super, super interested in seeing where people scatter to, especially, of course, in our community, in the front-end community.

Chris: Yeah, which like I said at the top, it matters to us because we want to watch this all happen. You know?

Maria: Yeah, and we know that we have been instrumental in our own social media way in helping other people get attention that has led to them getting jobs, led to them getting contracting work, led to them getting the recognition that they deserve for the work that they're doing. They share it on CodePen, and we spread it out on the big social networks, and it gets seen there.

Chris: We're a social network too, but we're not--


Maria: We're a social network too. Exactly.

Chris: We're definitely not talking about how we can be a Twitter replacement.

Maria: No. [Laughter] No. I would never, ever, ever dream of wanting to be that because that's not what this is for. This is for creating and sharing front-end design, front-end creations, front-end development, and front-end knowledge. That's a microscopic sliver of a person.

All these other social networks were like, "Give us everything. Give us your whole you. Give us your family photos and tell us about your job. Tell us where you went and tell us what you bought." You know?

We don't want that. We never ask for that. We never will.

For us, it is, "This is the front-end community. Here we all are doing cool stuff with what you can do with the front end. Here's the newest and latest in the front end. Let's show it off to each other. Let's share it with each other. Let's talk about it together." But that's it. We're not trying to dig into the rest of your life, and we're not trying to do anything other than learn from and teach each other about the front end.

Chris: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Like if Cohost gets huge and lots of people are sharing Pens there--

Maria: We're going to be.

Chris: --that's what we'll talk about.

Maria: We're going to be posting on Cohost. Yeah, exactly. [Laughter] The same with Mastodon.

Chris: Yeah. We'll be there. We'll attempt to talk to them and figure out what we can do. We will make sure that whatever they say is the right -- I don't know. What if they have their own fancy open graph tags or something? It seems unlikely that they do, but we'd put them in because that's where people are sharing stuff.

Maria: Yeah. Yeah.

Chris: That's our role in this. It's just fascinating to watch kind of for every reason.

Maria: Yeah, it is, and to be on the sidelines but also adjacent is an interesting place to be. We have absolutely been a part of the front-end community on Twitter too. CodePen and you personally, Chris, have been a major part of the front-end community on Twitter. And so, we've been part of it. We've tried to help shape it. I think the front-end community is pretty positive largely in part because we've been very influential, and we're kind of careful to make sure that we're keeping things cool amongst people. You know?

I think that we've been a big part of this, and it's been a big part of us. It is difficult to envision a future where we don't have that same level of an outlet for sharing members' work and for seeing what's happening in the front-end community in that way. I want to make sure I know what the move is. You know?

If we're moving, we need to know, and we want to know about it. So, realistically, seriously, if people are making moves to other places, tell us about it. Bring us along. Invite Chris.

Chris: Yeah. Yeah.


Chris: I'm going to hesitate on promising we're going to spin up our own Mastodon.

Maria: Oh... We'd have to boost toots.


Chris: As soon as they change that, I'm more into it. [Laughter]

Maria: [Loud exhale] What can you say? Boost my toot. [Laughter]

Chris: I can't and won't say that.

Maria: [Laughter] That is terrible, honestly.

Chris: [Laughter] Yeah. I even mentioned it, like, "Here's a piece of CSS we could apply to our pages to make it not say that anymore." I posted that.


Chris: Then somebody responded and said, like, "Oh, it was somebody in the early days in Mastodon. Somebody promised the developer a pretty good Patreon monthly if they made it called that." They were like, "Here's the commit."

Maria: Wow.

Chris: But that's the kind of cute, enduring story.

Maria: I love that kind of lure. That's awesome.

Chris: Yeah. That's great. Yeah. Now it's time, though. I will replace his Patreon, a higher Patreon to make it not say that.

Maria: [Laughter] You're going to call it a honk.


Maria: Time to switch it up, Mastodon.

Chris: Oh, my God. Honk!! I hate that less, but still, it's not a time for being cutesy. Software needs to get out of the way.

Maria: Well, I don't know. Maybe it is time. Maybe it's the ultimate time to get real cute with it. I don't know, everyone. You've got to let us know what's happening next because we're old, desiccated Twitter users.

Chris: [Laughter] I know.

Maria: Maybe it's something else.

Chris: Let the kids decide.

Maria: Yeah, maybe. [Laughter]

Chris: All right. Thanks for talking to me about this. We did our zeitgeisty thing.

Maria: We did.

Chris: Back to our regularly scheduled--

Maria: We put our finger on the pulse.

Chris: --technology posts next week.

Maria: Yeah.

Chris: Take care.

Maria: Thanks for listening, everyone. Bye-bye.

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