Examining The Crucial UX Elements Of My Proposed Twitter Replacement

by Shelt Garner

I’ve finally concluded that I’m totally and completely wasting my time to think about this idea anymore, and, yet I have gotten at least one ping in my Webstats related to this, so, lulz, let’s waste some MORE time.

A sample of my vision for the UX of a Twitter replacement.

Also, it definitely seems as though there is a very, very narrow window of opportunity for someone to actually implement this idea. I’m a dreamer and a writer so, as such, it’s better if I just stick to working on my novel(s) rather than spending years learning how to code something that will ultimately be replaced by a combination of the metaverse and chatbots.

Ok, the key selling point of this concept is is brings back some really cool UX concepts that we somehow lost when Usenet finally succumbed to porn and spam and porn spam. The cool thing about Usenet was you had a full page Posts that were robustly threaded in the context of Groups. What’s more, you had in-line editing.


Now, obviously, some of this sums up modern-day Reddit and that would be the thing most people would initially compare the service to because no one remembers Usenet except for weirdos like me. And, in real terms Reddit is the closest approximation to Usenet that exists.

But the implementation is really ham-handed, at least in my view.

Imagine if everyone when they went through on-boarding was forced to created both public and private groups devoted to not just grouping their friends, but also creating the equivalent of really robust Facebook Groups combined with Twitter Lists.

And there would be a lot of innate redundancy in the system, to the point that Groups would be seen as disposable. This would, in turn, reduce the likelihood of not only a Group growing too large, but also the sort of in-ward looking thinking that alienates people who just want to discuss a topic without having to lurk for weeks while they read the Group’s FAQ.

That’s a key element of Twitter — there is almost no learning curve. One can just jump in and start tweeting. The downside to this is, of course, this makes it far easier for trolls and bots to flood the service.

Anyway, if you establish a service where you have a full page Post with in-line editing and robust threading, I think it would be instantly popular. After, of course, people stopped trying to figure out why you had just re-created Reddit (which you hadn’t.)

There are so many cool things you could do with the UX of this service. You could push entire pre-formated Webpages into the service that Users could pick apart via in-ling editing. You could have some sort of profit sharing agreement with content providers whereby they push into the service complete Webpages with their ads already in the pages.

Or something. Something like that.

The point is — none of this is going to happen. While there IS a very narrow window of opportunity because of the current Elon Musk-generated instability at Twitter…no one listens to me.

It’s Sad That My Dream Of A Usenet-Inspired ‘Twitter Killer’ Will Never Happen

by Shelt Garner

In the end, I think all my dreams of someone cherry picking the best bits of the Usenet UX to design a “Twitter Killer” said more about my dissipated youth than anything else. No one was ever going to listen to me and the only way it was ever going to become reality was if I learned to code and showed people my vision in a practical manner.

As it is, lulz.

So, in a sense, it was all a huge waste of time. And, yet, I also think the same foolish and obsessive element of my personality that led me to rant about my dream of bringing back Usenet in some form has helped me when it comes to working on a novel.

There is that, I guess.

Anyway, I only even mention it again because someone from California did a Google search that led them to some of my writings about the Usenet UX. I have no idea who they were or their motives, but it reminded me of what we lost in social media UX over the last 30 years.

The funny thing about it all is, of course, that we’re zooming towards a whole different era in technology based around the metaverse and AI (AGI?) So, yeah. I need to stop dwelling on Usenet and throw myself into working on my first novel before even novel writing has been co-oped by the ravious chatbot revolution.

A Neat Element Of My Proposed Twitter Replacement — Inline WYSIWYG Editing Of Webpages Posted To The Platform

by Shelt Garner

One of the strongest parts of Usenet was you had an entire page to work with when you wanted to post something to the platform. Essentially, you wrote an email that was copied and distributed across the public UUCP network. This element would ultimately cause the decline and fall of Usenet because, lulz, it just could not scale.

Spam and porn became so bad with Usenet that it just faded away into the oblivion that in now exists in.

But the Twitter replacement I daydream about would harken back to those Usenet days of having a full page Post. What’s so interesting about this is if you update the Usenet post into the Web world on a single dedicated Website instead of a distributed network, you have a huge amount of potential.

One thing that I find fanciating is imagine, say, The New York Times pushing its formatted content into the system and individual users were given the ability to inline edit that content in a threaded discussion. Instead of just seeing the headline of a New York Times article and a blurb, you could see — and edit — the entire article in a threaded discussion.

And, what’s more, you could give the average user the ability to create a mulit-media, formated full-page post themselves that they could post to the system in a Group. I think that’s really cool. And given that you’re dealing with a fullpage post, there is at least the possibility that you could have some sort of Zoom-like video conferencing in that Post as well that people could comment under in real time.

I fear, of course, that I’m getting ahead of myself. I would suggest anyone who might take me up on this concept to probably keep things simple at first before getting to elaborate. You would have to ease people into a whole different way of looking at content creation.

My Proposed Twitter Replacement Fixes An Existential Problem With Existing Social Media Platforms

by Shelt Garner

The key flaw in social media is it’s very “flat” in the sense that the different sides of your life are mashed together into one circle. There have been efforts to manage this in the past — most notably Google’s failed G+ with it’s “Circles” concept, but I’ve come up with a far more simple concept that fixes this problem once and for all.

The solution is what I call Groups. As part of the onboarding process for this proposed service, you create as amy public or personal groups as you like. Using a drag-and-drop feature, you put your Friends within different groups, depending on how you know them. Within these Groups, you would have Posts that were threaded, just like the good old days of Usenet.

Meanwhile, people you didn’t know could join different Public groups that you had created — this would be ideal if you were some sort of public content creator like a journalist or celebrity. You would be given the ability to restrict who could post in the group as necessary.

I guess what I’m trying to say is — I’ve come up with fixes for the existential flaws in the Usenet UX that caused it die in the first place. But all of this is a big lulz. No one cares and I’m wasting my time. I would be far better served to shut up and continue to throw all my energy in finishing my first novel.

The ‘Feed’ of My Imagined Twitter Replacement

by Shelt Garner

Again, I only write about this pointless mental exercise because there is, in fact, a window of opportunity for a tech startup to swoop in and replace Twitter if Elon Musk manages to force his new acquisition’s implosion. I have six novels to work on and I should throw myself into that instead of daydreaming about shit like this. It’s finally really gotten into my thick skull that no one is going to listen to me about this idea if I can’t code or have the resources to pay someone to make this a reality.

But my hope is that someone, somewhere might read this and run with the idea. I’d prefer to simply get some credit for having thought up the idea, but other than than that, lulz. I know how the real world works.

Anyway, let’s talk about how the “Feed” of this Twitter replacement would work, given that instead of Tweets you would have full page, graphic rich Webpages you would interact with instead. This would take even the Facebook concept of the status up date to the next level.

Here’s my solution to this situation — you would “subscribe” to individual Threads within Groups that you’ve subscribed to and whenever there was a new Post that Thread you would see in it in your timeline, like you might otherwise see a new tweet. But you wouldn’t see the whole post, but rather just its subject and the first 100 words or whatever. Something manageable.

When you click on the subject of the Post, you see the whole thing in the context of the overall Thread and Group that it’s in. This solves one issue with the Group feature that is a hold over from Usenet newsgroups — newsgroups were notoriously parochial and unwieldy. That’s why back in the day, any popular Usenet newsgroup had to have a FAQ to stop people from asking the same questions over and over again when they joined the group for the first time.

One tricky problem is how to solve the “Hello” issue. Inevitably, new people to any service will want to say “hello” just to make sure someone can see what they’re tweeting. This was a real problem with Usenet newsgroups — especially during after AOL gave the broader public access to Usenet in I think 1993. It got so bad that there was a specific group devoted to people simply saying “Hello” — alt.hello.

I think the solution would be to address this issue through a combination of the onboarding process and maybe giving people a productive way to say hello in a Group set to Personal that only their friends would see. Or something.

I’m well aware that all of this a lot more complicated than the average Twitter user might be accustomed to AND if this proposed service grew popular enough that Facebook would either want to buy it or crush it because it would be easy, through mission creep, to turn this proposed service into something more akin to Facebook than Twitter.

Anyway, absolutely no one listens to me. But it feels good to get this off my chest.

The Power of The ‘Group’ Feature of My Imagined Twitter Replacement

by Shelt Garner

Even though I’m very tired of thinking about this idea because it’s just never going to happen for various reasons, I feel like letting off a little steam and writing about it some again. The key element of my proposed Twitter replacement is the Group feature.

This would be a lot easier to understand than G+’s “Circles” because it’s implementation would be pretty much just a more modern, more flexible incarnation of a Usenet newsgroup from 25-odd years ago. The key interesting part of the Group feature would be everyone could create a one for any reason for any subject.

So, imagine there’s a big breaking news story. With Twitter, you generally have to be following the right people — journalists, etc — to know what’s going on moment by moment. And, even then, what you get is a flood of information that is difficult to process because there’s no rhyme or reason to it all.

But with my imagined service, you would have two options in the breaking news use case. One would be, you could follow the user and the other would be you could follow just their Groups you were interested in. As such, you would get notifications whenever a user you followed created a new Group and you could opt-in to joining a group you found interesting. Meanwhile, you could also use a discovery feature to find Groups with a subject of interest to you as well.

And, remember, because of the redundancy involved with the service, it’s a lot less likely that a Group will grow so huge as to be unwieldly. And, if you really wanted to manage the size of any particular Group, you might even give the owner of the Group some basic administrative abilities like controlling who can post.

This brings up one potential flaw in the Group idea — management of groups might grow overwhelming and cumbersome. Most people don’t have the time, interest or energy to use granular administrative tools for a Group if they have dozens of Groups to oversee.

There are two solutions to this.

One would be your more popular accounts would probably already have a social media management team that could handle all of that. The other solution is you could have some sort of universal application feature that would set the permissions of all your groups and you could change it for an individual group as necessary.

Remember, the only reason why I even mention any of this is Twitter is in trouble and, as such, there is a window of opportunity for someone, anyone to swoop in and fill that technological and social space with something new and better.

But, in general, it’s a very limited window and you would have to have a lot of spunk and vision to pull it off because, lulz, all the momentum is in Web3 and AI.

The Vision Thing: My Personal Pitch For A Twitter Replacement

by Shelt Garner

I only bring this up because it definitely seems as though Twitter is going to crash and burn pretty soon, now that we have learned that Elon Musk wants to cut 75% of its staff.

I’ll try to be as brief as possible, I’ve wasted too much energy on this fantasm already.

The point of this Twitter replacement would be to bring back, to modernize the best bits of the old Usenet newsgroups. Now, I’m WELL AWARE that Reddit serves the function of Usenet in the modern age. Ok, I get it. But the idea that I have would be to be a far more feature rich and nuanced interpretation of Usenet.

What makes Twitter so engaging? That’s the key issue when thinking about how you might build a better version of it. One element of its success is how simple it is — there’s no onboarding to the service and you can really just jump right in without having to read any additional documentation like a FAQ. The service’s simplicity combined with having zero learning curve is what has given it whatever success it’s found to date.

The idea I have is a far more simplistic version of the “circles” concept that G+ had back in the day. Instead of a Circle, you would have a Group. And these Groups would be setup in such a way that the concept would be a lot easier to understand than G+’s Circles. They would be setup a lot more like Usenet Newsgroups with discussions and threads. You would have Threads inside of a Group made up of full pages posts.

This concept is exactly what we had back in the day with Usenet newsgroups and very similar — but not exactly — like Reddit. I haven’t used Reddit in a long time, but it’s my impression that you have one post and then threaded discussions below that central post — but it’s more of a comment section instead of a full page Post like we had back in the day with Usenet.

Anyway, the point is, as part of the onboarding process, you would have to setup your own Groups — with whatever names you liked — and you would have the option of joining other people’s Groups as well. And, remember, you could create as many Groups as you like about whatever subject you liked, no matter how specific or personal.

This redundancy would allow the service to scale in ways that neither Usenet nor Reddit can. This redundancy would would, in essence, give you a sense of a “super Twitter account” in the sense that you could have ad hoc Groups by different reporters and writers devoted to the same news event — breaking or otherwise.

I could go on and on — and I have on my Instagram account (SheltonBumgarner.) You can see me, over the course of way, way too many Instagram videos flesh out this concept pretty well. I’m embarrassed by how many videos I did on this subject over the years.

No one is ever going to take me up on this idea, of course. That’s just not how things work. But I really love the concept.

Elon Music, Twitter Is Useless

by Shelt Garner

The key problem with Twitter is it’s just a gusher of information. It’s easy to become overwhelmed with a cacophony of disjoined, unconnected information that blasts towards you. Yes, there are “Twitter Lists” that you can use to try to control things but few people use or understand them.

So, for the average user, a lot depends on who you follow to the point that it’s almost better to create specific accounts for specific interests you might have. As such, I have long thought about how Usenet, 25 years ago, was, in its own way far more feature rich than Twitter is today.

Now, obviously, Reddit pretty much fills the space that Usenet did a long time ago. And there are some serious problems with Usenet / Reddit paradigm that you have to overcome. It’s easy one for a “group / reddit” to grow too large to be usable and two there is the problem of a very, very specific culture developing within any specific group / reddit to the point that you have to create a FAQ to answer all the questions that newbies to a group may have.

And that is probably the biggest advantage of that Twitter has. The average person can just jump into Twitter and start using it, no FAQ required.

I have given this particular problem way, way, way too much thought and I think I have a solution.

What you do is, if you wanted the best of both worlds — Twitter and Usenet — what you do is you force every user of your service to create groups as part of their on boarding. As such, EVERY user would create Groups devoted to the personal and the public.

If everyone can create, in essence, an endless number of reddits for whatever happens to be going on in their lives, then that opens up a lot of opportunities that simply don’t exist at the moment.

In my imagination, instead of having a Twitter timeline, the user would see a stream of individual Posts to different Groups they were subscribed to that people they were interested in had created. You see a Post in your timeline or newsfeed and you click on it and respond. Then you could see that Post in the context of a Group, rather than just being yet another tweet in a flood of tweets.

Now, I’m very well aware that all of this is very moot. We’re all talking about AR and VR as opposed to social media and so, lulz. But it is my impression that Elon Musk is interested in turning the X.com domain name that he owns into a rival to Twitter and, as such…maybe he might think about using the general principles of Usenet for a social media service that would sort of be a combination of Twitter and Reddit?

But no one listens to me, so luz.

The Secret Sauce Of A Real Twitter Challenger

by Shelt Garner

Elon Musk really risks driving out the 1% of Twitter users. These would be the center-Left elites that all the MAGA people hate so much and yet crave the validation of.

So, I propose this — if you were to create an app like Twitter that was feature rich and cherry picked a lot of the best design elements of Usenet, a lot of those elites would use it.

If you gave the elites some way to manage their interaction with the Poors in a way that didn’t offend anyone, then, that, too would help jumpstart a new Twitter-like app.

But, lulz, no one listens to me.

A Window Of Opportunity For A Twitter Rival Based on Usenet Principles Exists

by Shelt Garner

The thing about cherry-picking the principles of Usenet to serve as the core of a Twitter rival is it’s now or never. We have, maybe, three to six months, before things sort themselves out and we learn if the New Normal of post-Elon Musk Twitter won’t be different, or if it will.

But here’s what I would do.

First, I would look at my “Shelton Bumgarner” Instagram account that has many, many videos about this very concept. It’s the reason why I have like 14,000 posts.

Anyway, after you look at some of those videos, I would figure out what are the best elements of Usenet that you might be able to use for a direct rival to Twitter.

Here are the elements of Usenet that I think would really surprise people that we’ve lost:

Inline Editing
The ability to inline edit posts is really cool. Imagine if the New York Times shot its content into your Twitter clone and people could have a discussion within the text. Each person would have a different color. It would be a lot like Google Doc’s collaborative feature.
Full Size Posts
The ability to have full-page post with native inline editing is something we haven’t had since Usenet. Reddit’s application of fullpage posts is very ham handed.
Robust Threading
In the context of full page posts, the threading you found with Usenet is very, very powerful.

The point is — study Usenet’s features and use the more interesting and innovative ones to start a Twitter rival NOW. A lot of center-Left people are thinking about leaving Twitter altogether and all you have to do is give them something new to use and they’ll at least check it out.