Exit tweet loyalty

Someday I will read Exit, Voice, and Loyalty (1970) and comment on pertinence to things I write about here (cf my almost due for 8 year refutation notes on The Logic of Collective Action (1965)), but I have long found the concept intuitive.

The Declaration of Twitter Independence has been quickly ridiculed. In addition to its over the top language, one way to think about why is that it seems an almost certainly futile and maybe inappropriate (Twitter won’t listen, and perhaps shouldn’t; Twitter can do whatever they want with their services) attempt at voice, accompanied with a halfhearted at best exit plan (“explore alternate platforms, giving precedence to those who do support such [muddled] principles [until Twitter adopts a more developer friendly policy]“).

“Doing it right” per the crowd I’m most familiar with (including me) is almost all exit: start developing your apps for StatusNet/OStatus and other federated and open source social web software/protocols; any voice should demand support for federation, ie facilitate exit. Twitter apologists would say Twitter is doing the right thing for the Twitter ecosystem, the complainers should deal. Twitter loyal oppositionists would say Twitter is doing its greatness a disservice with its policies and should change. I’m not sure what people who care but are in neither the federated nor Twitter apologist/loyalist camps might think, but I’d like to know.

The Declaration doesn’t lend itself to a charitable reading, I think it is worth giving it one. Regarding its futile and perhaps inappropriate attempt at voice: it is OK for customers to complain; smart companies often even listen and adjust; Twitter is now a large organization, parts of it very smart; worth a try. Regarding exit, they don’t want to, and there isn’t anyplace completely obvious for them to go, much as I’d like that to be StatusNet/OStatus; “explore alternate platforms” and wanting no limits on how data can be used and shared, and data available in standard formats all support exit, with the right amount of tentativeness. Although that charitable reading is possible, the Declaration could’ve been written much more strongly regarding all of the points discussed above. Low probability that I’ll fork it to do so.

Collaborative Futures mentions exit, voice, and loyalty in the context of free collaboration projects. It appears from the history that I didn’t write that bit, though it covers a pet concept and uses a pet phrase (configurations). That chapter is way too short, but I’m pleased in retrospect with its nuance, or rather, with the charitable readings I’m able to give it.

When I eventually return to this topic, I will probably complain that software freedom and nearby advocates are overly focused on exit, with lots of untapped potential for the movements in voice and loyalty, possibly the same for political libertarians, and that it difficult to keep in mind more than two of exit, voice, and loyalty, and the frequency of their pairings.

In the meantime a post last year by Xavier Marquez on Exit, Voice, and Legitimacy: Responses to Domination in Political Thought seems pretty reasonable to me.

One Response

  1. [...] Few users have expressed demand for such features through either exit or voice; [...]

Leave a Reply