Brandon Invergo

Biting the bullet and rejoining a social network

A couple of years ago, I decided to delete all of my social networking accounts. In general, I have been very happy with that decision. However, I am finding that, for various reasons, it would be advantageous for me to have at least one social networking outlet. On the professional side of things, there is a large, ongoing conversation between biologists and other scientists that occurs online from which I have been isolated. As I advance in my career, I cannot afford to miss out on such interactions. On the personal side, it would be nice to have another outlet for announcing my various activities (esp. software releases). To this end, I have decided to re-activate my old Twitter account, @brandoninvergo.

While professional reasons play perhaps the largest part in this decision, I absolutely refuse to hide my non-professional interests and activities. To do so would be to deny huge parts of my life, which is not acceptable. Thus, while you can expect to see a lot of biology-related posts, do not be surprised to see me simply being me. That said, I also will not be posting any unprofessional things.

I still believe that there is no example of "good social networking" online today. It is bad for many reasons, not the least of which is user tracking/profiling, which is reprehensible. I immediately noticed that Twitter was suggesting users to me whom I had previously followed. Other friends managed to find me before I found them, literally within minutes of me joining. How could this have been possible, if not for Twitter keeping track of such relationships for over two years, even after deleting my account?

I also find social networking to be predominantly a source of noise (especially now that apparently Twitter serves advertisements "promoted tweets"), which I prefer to avoid. Most of the conversation online, in any venue, is garbage and adds little to one’s life. I will try to do my part in increasing the general signal-to-noise ratio.

Lastly, for something as simple as Twitter, I cannot believe how much crap JavaScript it loads, so of course, I am using Emacs to interface with it. I would much prefer to use something more freedom-respecting, like GNU Social (formerly StatusNet) and, indeed, I might sign up on an instance of it somewhere; but, unfortunately, the biology presence on it seems to be rather low. So, for now, Twitter is the least-bad solution.

As you can see, I am not 100% happy about going back into social networking, but in the long run, I do see some good that can come out of it. Thus, I approach the opportunity with some guarded optimism and I do look forward to some interesting interactions with others. Follow me if you’re interested, otherwise in any case this website will still be my main online presence, so do keep an eye on it!

Edit: For the more ethically minded, I did end up setting up a GNU Social-based account on