Essays on Technology and Culture

Living with Little Voices

It’s no surprise that people are overwhelmed by social media. Even a well-curated social stream can be a mass of noise with precious little signal. We lose track of the “social” part, and it just becomes a stream of media from our ostensible friends, indistinguishable from leaving the TV on in the background.

Recently, I heard about a Twitter app for iPhone called Little Voices, and decided to give it a try. Little Voices is notable for what it doesn’t do, unlike the stock Twitter app, or my preferred power user alternative, Tweetbot. Little Voices hides pictures, video, links, retweets, and @-replies from people you don’t follow. Instead, as the creators say, “[y]ou’ll only be able to read the funny, silly, educational and foolish comments they make.”

One thing I’ve notices after using Little Voices for a few days along with Tweetbot on my Mac is that the majority of my Twitter stream often is media, retweets, and links. That’s not a bad thing, but it makes me think of just how much Twitter has changed over the time I’ve been using it. Little Voices feels a bit like the Twitter of yore—before @-replies, before embedded media, and before a lot of what made Twitter so useful and so noisy all at once.

I’m planning to pair Little Voices up with Nuzzle so I can tap into the links and media, and keep the social aspects to its own space. By splitting the Twitter experience up a bit, I should be able to avoid the great overwhelming that can sometimes happen even with a power-user app like Tweetbot. Personally, I’d like to see a similar set of tools for Facebook. Social Fixer helps, but it doesn’t have the same filtering capabilities.