Twitter birds surrounding a microphone to showcase Twitter Spaces.

Getting started with Twitter Spaces

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What is Twitter Spaces?

Twitter Spaces is similar to Clubhouse. If you’re unsure of what Clubhouse is, then it’s a place where you have speakers and listeners come together in a room or space, as Twitter calls it. The person who creates the room is known as the host, and they have control over who can speak.

Hosting a room

If you’re eager to host a room, firstly, you need to have hosting privileges. Currently, only a small subset of users can host a room, and it’s currently limited to iOS only. However, they are starting to roll the hosting feature out to Android users as well. They have specifically chosen to prioritise minority groups such as ethnic minorities, those with disabilities such as hard-of-hearing and hard-of-seeing. This is so they can focus on tools and feedback which are more inclusive. They’re trying to minimise bullying and hate speech while also creating live captions for those that need it.

Android is also challenging to roll out because of the vast array of devices that can use the OS. Not every microphone and speaker are built the same. They also handle data differently, and they need to ensure the bit-rate is a good balance between quality and not hog bandwidth/resources.

How do you host a room?

However, you’ll know you can host a room because you’ll get an onboarding screen. It will welcome you and let you know you can hold on to the compose a tweet button. If you’re unsure, the blue button on the bottom right corner of your screen is the compose a tweet button. You will be able to hold down on the button, and you will see three new icons appear. The purple button with the dots in the shape of a diamond is the button that allows you to host a space. If you have this, then congratulations, you can host a space.

Another way to find the option is by clicking on your profile image in the fleets section. You can then scroll over to the far right of fleets and start a space from here.

As Uncle Ben says in the Spider-Man movies, “with great power comes great responsibility”. This is very true when you’re hosting your own space because you’ll be able to invite people up to speak. You will also kick people down into listener if you find they’re trolling or being hateful. If you can host, then it’s up to you how you control your room.

Controlling a room

I’ve seen a few rooms now where people have come up just to troll. However, they usually get kicked back to the listener and then leave once they get bored. Most of the community has been super supportive, and you will be able to create a supportive community.

When you create a room, you will be able to select who can speak as they enter. You can select everyone, which means everyone who joins the room can enter as a speaker if they choose to. You can also select people you follow, allowing anyone you personally follow to come up as a speaker as they enter. The third options mean that no one can come up as a speaker as soon as they enter. This means they have to join as a listener, and they can request to speak, or you can invite them up yourself. If you invite someone up, they can choose to come up or ignore the request.

How do you find and join a room?

Rooms that are currently in session can be found near the top of your phone. If you know where the fleets section is, you may have noticed some circles looking a little different with purple auras. They also may have some circles are grouped, which means there are other speakers in the room. The purple shape is known as a Twitter Space. If you click on one of them, you will join and listen or speak in that chosen space.

How do you join as a speaker?

There are a few ways to join as a speaker. If you read the paragraph above, then you’ll know in some spaces, you’ll be able to join straight away, and in others, you’ll have to join as a listener and then request to speak. There will be a little microphone towards the bottom left of your screen to request as a speaker. When you click on this, you will be able to request. If you decide you want to cancel your request, then you’ll be able to click on the same button, which should have turned into a green tick icon. If you click it, then it will cancel your request.

Currently, when you join as a speaker, your microphone will be on as soon as you enter. This has confused a lot of people as they expect it to be muted at first. However, from the feedback Twitter has received, they will change this behaviour and make it muted by default. I’ve made it into a good habit to click the mute button as soon as I enter. That way, I can be sure the room will only hear what I want them to hear. I usually pick moments where I can speak and offer my words/advice.

How do I see the list of speakers/listeners?

Twitter has released a new feature that allows you to see who is hosting, who is speaking, how many speaking spots have been taken up and how many are available. It also lists the number of speakers that are currently in the room. Not everyone knows about this yet as it’s still very new.

Why do some people have purple dots?

Some user’s (including myself) have added a purple spot before our names. This is to show other Twitter users that we have hosting capabilities, and it has been good for discoverability.

How do I get a purple dot?

Anyone can put the purple dot in their purple names. It’s just an emoji 🟣. See? We’ve been using this when we have hosting capabilities. It has been good for discovering who uses Spaces and who can host a space, as said above. Some trolls have tried to add it to give themselves credibility, but they’re usually shot down and get bored and leave.

Do I have to talk in a Space?

No, you absolutely do not have to talk in a space. You can sit in as a listener, and this is perfectly okay. You can speak when you would like to add advice or your piece of information to the audience. I suffer anxiety so I have sat in many spaces just to listen. I’m actually using it to force myself to speak in other rooms and fight my anxiety which has been great for me personally. However, everyone is different and you can use it as almost a live podcast or radio station.

Can I add to the space without talking?

Twitter Spaces has reaction emojis. Currently, on the iPhone, you can use five reactions. Android somehow has six reactions that can be used. These include 💯 ✊ ✌️ 👋 😂 and android also has ✋. If you want to change the skin colours, you can hold down on the emoji and place your thumb on the colour you want to use. You can also send people who follow you a direct reaction. If you select their profile in the space, you’ll see the list of emojis toward the bottom of your screen.

Can I add co-hosts to my space?

Currently, you cannot add co-hosts to your space. However, this has been a highly requested feature, and they are looking into it.

How do I send feedback?

You can send feedback by clicking the ellipses near the bottom of your screen. Once you click it, you will be able to see an option that says Share feedback. Once you click on it, you will have another option to send a DM to the Twitter Space account. You can then send them feedback and offer suggestions that can improve the experience. You can also submit bug reports if you’re experiencing any issues.

Can I report a space?

Yes, if you’re experiencing bullying or any behaviour that you find unacceptable, you can click on the ellipses and click Report this space. When you click on this option, you will have a list of options for reporting.

Where can you find out more about Twitter Spaces?

You can take a look at the Twitter Spaces FAQ to learn more. They are constantly adding more information just like I will be to this post. Keep an eye out to learn more.

Twitter Spaces has been fantastic, and it has a really supportive and inclusive community. Please respect the rooms your in, and have fun joining in or creating your own spaces.

The best gift is you!

Favourite connections of the year 2020

It’s been 2 years since my last “favourite connections of the year”. This year has been a little rubbish, and I feel it’s a perfect time to bring it back. I feel like I have made a ton of new friends online this year, and if I miss anyone out, I do apologise.

There have been many tech peeps which I have made great connections with this year. This includes Emmett Naughton, Kurt Kemple, Josh, Damon Chen, Rosie Sherry, Erika Heidi, and Riley Quin.

Emmett is an aspiring developer and father. He’s looking to break into the tech industry and land his first paid job. He has already completed his first freelance project, and I have every bit of faith that he will achieve his goal.

Kurt Kemple is a CrossFitter much like myself, which is where the connection sparked. He has supported me throughout the year, and I have also tried to do the same in return. He’s very passionate about everything he does, and he’s an all-round lovely person.

Josh and I have only just met each other. However, our interactions have been very nice, and he’s a really nice person. I enjoy reading his tweets and joining in conversations with him. Really, I hope he and his company “PrimCloud” go far in life.

Damon was spotted on Indie Hackers, and he created a really cool website called lonely.dev. It was the first set up to help lonely working from home developers create quick dev updates, and connect to other developers. His site has since grown, and he renamed it to indielog due to the amount of different content uploaded. Damon has been accommodating and has been very supportive of me this year. Which I am very thankful for. He always seems to be releasing project after project, and I think many of them will go far. He will also go very far in life.

Rosie is another Indie Hacker, and she manages their social media. Which on the surface probably sounds easy. However, I think managing social media is a lot harder than most people expect. She’s an awesome and supportive person and is always open to talk. I love seeing her content on IH, and I even subscribed to her newsletter (which I suggest you do too). She shares her wins, and mistakes so we can all learn from her.

Erika is lovely. She’s a PHP developer just like me, and she works for Digital Ocean. During the week, she will go live. She will either create a programming project or a 3D printed project. They’re always fun to watch, and I’ve honestly learnt so much from her. If programming or 3D printing is your thing, then you should check her out.

Riley uses Coil’s platform, which I recently joined (you can read my review here). My content got featured on the platform, and she tweeted to me about it. This was our first interaction, and she congratulated me on the feature. It was great to see how supportive she is, and I started reading her fascinating posts. She has a lot to say, and she also sings really well. You can take a look at her writing here and follow her YouTube channel too. She’s another great person to talk to and is very open to listening if you need to speak to her.

My list slowly grew as I was writing this, and I’m sure I have missed out so many people. If you were missed out, please don’t be upset. If we have spoken at any time this year, then you should know I cherish our conversations. Also, I want to take a minute and thank every single person I’ve spoken to this year, whether it was just a passing hello, or a full on chat. Thank you for being a part of my 2020, and I hope we can speak again soon.

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What is one regret I have from 2020?

John from Yen created a tweet to encourage people to start writing, and while I don’t need mucn encouragement. I thought it would be fun to try and get involved since he is a great person.

Soo, what is my one regret?

Honestly, sitting here and writing this. I don’t really have one. I buckled down and started saving every extra penny I had. Now I have £2,878.91 saved up towards a house, including government contributions. Also, I have £1,521.41 towards investments which I’m hoping will also go toward our house.

One wish I have right now, I wish I could see my mum. She’s lives very close to Manchester, and her tier is very different from Devon’s (where I live). It would have been amazing if I could have gone to see her this year, but I don’t regret not seeing her. You may be wondering how I don’t have that regret, and it’s because I know I’m doing my best to keep her safe. If I visited her and did give her Covid, then my bigger regret would be the fact I’ve passed it on. She’s been through a lot over the years, and this would be the last thing I’d want her to go through. I think it’s safer if we stay where we are for now until she can get a vaccine.

Now I pass the question onto you. What is your biggest regret you have from 2020? If you decide to write a blog post on the topic, feel free to comment below with a link to your post. I will approve any posts that are answering the question.

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Gaining confidence to start a blog

I had this discussion on my Twitter to which I said…

To anyone that doesn’t have a blog. What’s holding you back from creating one?

I had a discussion with a lovely lady who said her posts aren’t well written enough. She’s worried people either won’t like them, or they’re too boring and blogging can be very stressful etc.

It’s your blog, you can write what you want, when you want.

The great thing about having your own website or your own blog, you can write what you want when you want. The only stress you gain is the stress you put on yourself. No one demands content from you, and even if they did they can go elsewhere. Because this is your turf, your domain, your property. Your audience is being welcomed in, and if they like what they see, they can stay and even converse.

Start a blog by writing about your interests and enjoy the process. Share it with other who you think will enjoy it, it can be friends, family or someone you speak to online. Let them give you feedback and be open to that feedback. Your first round of posts will probably be terrible, but you will get better and you will gain experiences like no other.

Let me tell you a secret…

My first ever blog wasn’t good, but it was a good start. If you look at my first round of posts on here, they’re probably terrible compared to now. No blog post will ever be perfect, you just have to start and the best time to start is now. You can always build your site as you go, and you can edit your posts if you need to.

As Susan Jeffers has written you should “feel the fear and do it anyway“. Life is too short to be worrying what people might say or think. If you don’t do something now, then when are you going to start?

Moving away from Facebook services

To start, this isn’t a “we must all move away from Facebook, now!”. This is me feeling like I want to move away from Facebook and their services. Facebook plans to merge all their messaging services to allow all their users to connect through either Messenger, Instagram or WhatApp. Some of my friends think this is good news as you’ll only need one app. However, I’m starting to feel a little uneasy in this situation.

Their real plan is to have better-targeted ads, so they can make even more money and rule even more of the internet. We know of the scandals such as Cambridge Analytica, and today’s scandal “Facebook pays teens to install VPN that spies on them“. It makes me even more worried and makes me wonder how evil can Facebook truly be.

Moving to other platforms

I’ve moved from WhatsApp to Signal. Although I still have the app due to friends not moving away. Once I’ve persuaded them to move, then I’ll uninstall the app. I can easily uninstall Instagram and stick with apps like Twitter and Vero. However, Messenger and Facebook are slightly harder to move away from. This is because I’ve spent a large portion of my life on Facebook and I’ve got many friends and family there. There are also groups I like to interact with and messaging bots which help my finances.

I could start with uninstalling them on my phone and only using the browser version. This is beneficial because I have addons which block ads and tracking. This means it will be harder for Facebook to track my data and I’ll be in more control. I can announce on Facebook that I will hardly be using it in favour of my personal website. Personal websites are a much better place anyway as you have tons more control and people can get a much better insight of you.

What are your thoughts on the situation? Have you moved away already? Are you in the process of moving away, or would you rather stay? Let me know in the comments below.

The demise of social networks

Creating my own social network

For what seems like forever, I wanted to create my very own social networking site. At first, it was going to compete with Facebook, have reactions (before they invented it), and use open technologies. I started creating something with my custom PHP, I created the ability to register, log in and add friends. It was going great and my friends were playing around with it. A few bugs were being reported which I would try to fix, and a few months later, I got bored.

Years after my experience, Laravel (a fantastic PHP framework) appeared, and a spark reignited. I tried to recreate a social network on and off and rebooted it so many times. It was meant to be decentralised and have so many bells and whistles but after so many agonising years I decided it was time to give up the ghost.

Every social network dies eventually

I knew that Facebook and other social networks only have so long to live. We’ve seen the demise of Bebo, MySpace, PhotoBooth and so many more social networks just disappear. Facebook will have its day, and I think that day will be very soon.

The future is here

There are now websites like Mastodon and Squeet which are completely decentralised. You can download their source code and place it on your very own website then ask friends/family to join it.

These websites also connect to ActivityPub (I’ll call it AP for short), and this is where it gets incredibly interesting. AP is completely open and decentralised, it’s a data format that anyone can create and can be used on any website. To prove it, I have it installed right here on my WordPress blog although I never created the plugin, it works fantastically already. Every time I publish a blog post, it communicates with AP and gets sent to every social network reading from it including Mastodon and Squeet (to name a few).

Your very own social network in a pinch

This got me thinking, what if we could make the process so simple, everyone can have their own social network? Almost as easy as connecting WordPress to JetPack in order to connect to the WP community. What if we could make a simple static site that can be deployed to a server with a push of a button and almost be free? This would then instantly connect you to everyone via AP.

This is still a pie in the sky idea, but I honestly think it’s doable, and it will be something I am potentially looking into this year.

If you have any ideas, then please send them over. If I start this project, I will keep you all updated.