A Small But Important Change to the Big Idea
If you read the Big Idea posts — and you should! — you’ll know at the end of each post there is the post-essay informational part, which includes links to booksellers, excerpts from the book, and then links to the author’s personal site and Twitter presence. Well, starting today, I’m making a change to that last part: I’m rearranging it to be “Author Socials,” which will list the author’s personal site if they have one, and then link to whichever social media the author wants to point to; not just Twitter but Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, Tik Tok, etc.
There are a few reasons for this change. The first is that thanks to Twitter’s new owner and his generally chaotic leadership of the site, a number of authors are either no longer on Twitter or want to send traffic its way, and also, there are a number of readers who feel similarly. I want to accommodate those folks, and not make them grudgingly point to or visit a site they would prefer not to. The second reason is that while Twitter was for a long time the place authors and readers hung out online to chat and interact, there are now active communities of readers and writers on many different social media sites, so it makes sense to point people to where the action is, and where the author themselves are likely to be.
A third reason is that, bluntly, Twitter is likely dying, may not be around for much longer (or at least, not around as it was originally developed and used). It makes good sense for me not to tether the Big Idea feature to a sinking ship. I don’t ask people to link their MySpace account, after all. Mind you, under the new policy they could (MySpace still exists! Sort of!), but I’m not giving MySpace preferential treatment.
Nor, any longer, am I doing the same for Twitter. If an author wants to list their presence on Twitter as part of their socials, great, we’ll add it in. But if they don’t, that’s cool, too. And if an author has no social accounts online at all, including their own web site, that’s fine as well. Although you really should have your own personal site, folks.
This is not the first time I’ve made a change like this with the Big Idea. Early on in the development of the feature, the commerce links pointed only to Amazon, because it was easy and everyone used Amazon anyway. Then Amazon started being, well, Amazon, and it made sense to widen out the number of commercial links I offered so people could avoid using Amazon if they liked, and to drive the point home that there were other commercial options available online. So this new change is in keeping with what I’ve done before.
For the day-to-day experience of the Big Idea, I don’t know if this changes much. The author essays will still be the main draw, and the post-essay matter is pretty much an afterthought to that. But if you are intrigued enough to want to check out the author on their socials, moving forward you’ll have more options. I think that’s a positive thing.
This change began today with Piper J. Drake’s Big Idea, but please note that there are a number of upcoming Big Ideas that have already been delivered to us that may still just have Twitter and the author’s site, and not any other online presences. It’ll take a little while for this change to become fully integrated, and for me to make sure people requesting Big Ideas in the future know about it. So be prepared for a transition period. At the end of it, again, it’ll be a small change, but one that makes the feature better for everyone.