What is bluesky?
It's a Twitter-like app from a team led by Jack Dorsey, former CEO of Twitter. To join the community you put your name on a waiting list (and possibly never hear back) OR you get an invite code from someone who is already there.
What's an invite code and how do I get one?
It's a code that seems to be randomly (and pretty infrequently) distributed to bluesky members. They need to send you one privately in a DM, an email, or a text...or else anyone could see it and use it before you do.
To use the code, first you must download the free bluesky app to your phone, then go about setting up an account. When you are asked for the code, either write it in (the whole thing) or, better still, copy and paste it.
It takes five minutes, if that.
What will I see when I get there?
You'll see that it looks pretty much like Twitter. Phew!
If you want your Twitter chums to find you, it's probably best to stick to the same images you used there...and the same @handle. I changed my handle, which was probably a mistake, but it felt good nonetheless - like a new beginning.
Start a search for your friends. You'll find a number of Jukebox regulars there already. One says that it feels like Twitter in the old days.
But does it work the same?
Not quite. The app is still in development. Code is being written and fixed each day.
There are no DMs yet (a huge drawback), you can't store drafts to post at a later date yet, you can't form threads as easily, you can't bookmark others' posts for reposting later, and you can't upload videos. I have a fix for a few of these: see the Tips & Work-arounds article (link below). But you can post photos and your posts have a sensible 300-character limit.
There is one major difference, however, which lies in how it is organized. People are responsible for their behaviour and can be held accountable for it. More than this, unacceptable behaviour can lead to everyone they invited to the site being scrutinized as well. Bluesky refers to this model as "invite trees".
What are the benefits of joining?
There are no paid ads! Woohoo! And you can control who and what you see in your feeds. I see only posts and replies from people I follow (though there are other feeds available to me based on my interests).
MAGAs, Tories, climate deniers, antivaxxers, and TERFs don't fare well here, so there aren't many of them as far as I can tell. They're probably here; I've just never seen one.
What are the drawbacks?
It's slightly elitist, to my mind, which is also one of its benefits. I've begun to notice that people are so used to shouting their point of view on Twitter that they're now spoiling for an argument - any argument, it seems to me. On the other hand, most discussions - even heated ones - are so much politer than on Twitter.
I find I need to refresh pages almost constantly. You can like a post on someone's account, then see the same post in your feed, and it looks as if your "like" didn't stick. Unlike Twitter, it did. You just have to refresh your feed in order to see it.
Do I have to give up my Twitter account?
No! Keep your account there open if it suits you, or if you need it to show publishers or agents the number of followers you have.
I'm only leaving because I'm sick of its toxic environment, of not being seen, of having engagement with me halved because of its algorithms, of different features not working properly for days on end. And I loathe the idea of the books I give away falling into the hands of the alt-right.
So what's your plan to get us there, Michael?
It turns out that invite codes for us to distribute aren't given out very often. It would take a year or more of my staying on Twitter to accrue enough codes to help everyone who may wish to cross over. So I came up with a plan to speed up the process.
Each code I get, I will give to one person who's agreed to give their first code to a mutual acquaintance, who in turn will give their first code to yet another person I name. Giving up just one invite code this way could assure that three or more people can cross over in the next few months or so.
Organizing chains like this is fraught with difficulties (not everybody has heard of bluesky, has no idea of how rare invite codes are, or even wants to cross over), so the logistics of the plan (like who do I target next? And who do I ask them bring across?) change daily, if not hourly. But it's the best, quickest plan I could come up with at a moment's notice.
If you want a code, let me know in my Twitter DMs - and keep watching yours for my reply.
Who are you targeting first?
My readers, especially those who've written articles for my Fabulous Friends spot on my website. Then the Mystery Jukebox regulars. The Mystery Jukebox 4.0 would work brilliantly here! Finally, the wonderful content creators who made Twitter such a great place to be in its heyday. And friends who have regularly supported me.
Just never, NEVER the regular Jukebox user who RT'd Musk's vile joke about Zelensky, saying: "Pro Tip: you can't cancel Musk on his own platform. Leave X like you've all been threatening."
"Will do!" as I replied to him. Plan in motion, Bearz.
What happens when Twitter breaks up?
People will go elsewhere. As much as the owner and his toadying minions might not think we will, we WILL leave, once we're sick enough of his horrid management. Tribel sounds good, as do a dozen others.
And there's the problem. People will retreat all over the place, diluting communities, especially as bluesky is so hard to join. I'm thinking that Musk is counting on this.
Hence my plan to bring us together again and as quickly as possible. It's a small plan in the scheme of things, but it really ain't a bad one.