Good-Bye to Architecture Twitter
As people delete or abandon their Twitter accounts due to its changes related to content ownership etc. that begin today, September 29th, I thought I’d look back at some of the content I’ve provided over the years since I started tweeting back in December of 2009. How many times did I tweet? Over 13,000 times. While there is something true about wasting time on the internet, I’d like to believe I was at least attempting to educate people with my posts as a frustrated (and failed) teacher. I’m a curious person. It’s natural for me to share what I’ve learned, especially when it comes to our built environment. I’m always hoping somebody gets something out of it, and might have a new appreciation for architecture and history. Plus I learned so much from other people on what we liked to call “Architecture Twitter.” I’m forever grateful to everyone who shared their expertise and geekiness with me.
Now it seems as it was all for nothing. The ability to share and learn from each other in a quick, easy, and fun way is disappearing. Twitter will end up like a lot of the internet with broken links and lost information. Something I counted on for almost fourteen years will be gone forever (a slow death since Musk boy bought it) as its infrastructure literally falls apart in front of our eyes and people leave in droves. There is a sense of foreboding right now, more than dystopian even, about what’s happening to our shared digital spaces. It’s hard to explain exactly but I wrote down my feelings back in April in case you missed it. Anyway, here is a walk down memory lane with some screenshots of a handful of tweets.
I remember when there was “Funny Twitter” in the early days. I also remember connecting with interesting people like the artist Dmitry Samarov, who might not have stuck around Twitter for very long but helped expand my world and audience beyond the wannabe comedians to something with more substance. The following tweet from almost ten years ago combined two of my favorite subjects: buildings and Louis Sullivan. Both would become major themes of my Twitter.
I’m not going to search through thousands of tweets to find the exact moment when I focused more on architecture than telling silly and stupid jokes like Shit My Dad Says. (Anyone remember my original Twitter handle TeachingYouShit?) I know it was in 2013. And I also know it was John from Chicago Patterns who gave me a chance to write a multi-part series (here’s the first article) three years later. It’s no secret that I’ve worked at the James Charnley House forever so it was cool he let me “go off” and rant about the controversy behind the ground-breaking design on his website. That led to actual writing on a semi-professional basis due to tweeting with people like AJ and Whet. Plus thanks (again) to John and many others, especially Kate Wagner, who shared my various Twitter threads about random buildings.
But I wasn’t just tweeting about my love of architectural history and old house stalking. I also tried to share my preservation concerns over threatened buildings in the Chicagoland area, starting in 2015 and continuing to the present day. So many photographers have also done a great job of documenting our built environment, like one of my favorite Twitter accounts, Gabriel X. Michael, who brought much needed attention to Chicago’s vernacular architecture specifically workers cottages and post-fire structures. I’m glad I can still follow some of these same people on other platforms. It still makes me sad though. I’m mourning a big part of my (internet) life.
But architecture isn’t always serious. Or at least it shouldn’t be all the time. (And please tell that to an architect and/or scholar when you have a moment, please. Thank you.) One of my favorite things to do on Twitter was make fun of the “bad” residential buildings around Chicagoland, especially suburbs like Naperville and Barrington, that I would see on my little excursions. Maybe I’ll continue some of that snarking over here on Substack. I don’t know? Just like Instagram and Flickr before it, I’ll miss Twitter. I’m still trying to figure out my relationship with the internet. Do I want to keep being a content creator? I think I do. It’s who I am (unfortunately). I have a number of architects’ homes to share with you. And other geeky stuff. As we enter the new month of October I *promise* to stop blogging about myself and get back to the architecture. I mean, that’s why you’re all here, right?