The Twitter Elegies (& Mastodon Scolds) with Rebecca Colesworthy & Jeff Jarvis

Apple Podcasts


This will be the final 2022 episode of The American Vandal Podcast, but you can expect a special 50th episode shortly after the new year, and much more throughout 2023. As Matt Seybold discusses in his intro to this finale episode, the podcast grew exponentially this year, and we are very grateful to listeners for their continued attention and support.

In the conclusion our “Social Problems” series, Matt Seybold speaks to two scholars embedded in different areas of publishing about what Twitter has meant to their professions and communities, as well as how they might be changed by the chaos and even potential collapse following Elon Musk’s takeover of the platform.

The conversation includes a brief overview of “The Twitter Files,” a recent pseudo-investigation of pre-Musk Twitter by Musk’s handpicked stable of Substackers, as well as critical consideration of Mastodon, the platform to which many academic and journalists have moved in recent months.

Rebecca Colesworthy is a Sr. Acquisitions Editor at SUNY Press, where she has extensively contributed to the catalog in Women’s & Gender Studies, Queer Studies, Critical University Studies, Post45 cultural studies, and more. A Cornell PhD with a focus in transnational modernism and economic criticism, she is also the author of Returning The Gift: Modernism & The Thought of Exchange (Oxford UP, 2018) and co-editor (with Peter Nicholls) of How Abstract Is It?: Thinking Capital Now (Routledge, 2017)[Twitter: @RColesworthy, Mastodon: @[email protected]]

Jeff Jarvis is the Leonard Tow Professor of Journalism Innovation and the Director of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at CUNY’s Newmark Graduate School of Journalism. Jarvis’s lengthy career in journalism includes the founding of Entertainment Weekly and BuzzMachine, as well as editorial and/or executive stints with the Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News, People magazine, and many others. He is the author of four books about publishing in the digital age, most recently Geeks Bearing Gifts: Imaging New Futures For News (CUNY Journalism, 2015) and forthcoming in 2023, The Gutenberg Parenthesis: The Age of Print & Its Lessons For The Age of The Internet (Bloombury, 2023). [Twitter: @jeffjarvis, Mastodon: @[email protected]]

Matt Seybold is Associate Professor of American Literature & Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College, as well as resident scholar at the Center For Mark Twain Studies, and Founding Director of EC’s Media Studies, Communication, & Design major. He has been primary host and executive producer of The American Vandal Podcast since its launch in October 2020. [Twitter: @MEASeybold, Mastodon: @[email protected]]

The theme song for this series is “Social” by the ’90s punk band, Squirtgun, permissions generously granted by Mass Giorgini. Check out Squirtgun’s back catalog at Apple Music or Spotify.

Episode Bibliography:

Hanif Abdurraqib, Go Ahead In The Rain: Notes To A Tribe Called Quest (U Texas, 2019)

Andre Brock Jr., Distributed Blackness: African American Cybercultures (NYU Press, 2020)

Ian Bogost, “The Age of Social Media is Ending” (The Atlantic, 11.10.2022)

Ian Bogost, “People Aren’t Meant To Talk This Much” (The Atlantic, 10.22.2021)

Ian Bogost & Matt Seybold, “The Plausible End of Social Media, Downscaling, & The Latent Celebrity Mindset” (The American Vandal, 11.23.2022)

Carrie Brown, “Engaged Journalism: It’s Finally Happening” (Nieman Lab, 2019)

Andy Carvin, Distant Witness: Social Media, The Arab Spring, & A Journalism Revolution (CUNY Journalism Press, 2013)

Meredith D. Clark, “DRAG THEM: A Brief Etymology of So-Called ‘Cancel Culture'” (Communication & The Public, 2020)

Meredith D. Clark, Archiving Black Twitter Project, Archiving the Black Web Initiative (2023)

Jelani Cobb, “Why I Quit Elon Musk’s Twitter” (The New Yorker, 11.27.2022)

Rebecca Colesworthy, Returning The Gift: Modernism & The Thought of Exchange (Oxford UP, 2018)

Jonathan Flowers & Justin Hendrix, “The Whiteness of Mastodon” (Tech Policy Press, 11.23.2022)

Henry George, Social Problems (1883)

Jeff Jarvis, “We, The Tweeters” (The New European, 12.8.2022)

Jeff Jarvis, The Gutenberg Parenthesis: The Age of Print & Its Lessons For The Age of The Internet (Bloomsbury, 2023)

Jeff Jarvis, Geeks Bearing Gifts: Imagining New Futures For News (CUNY Journalism Press & Medium, 2015)

Jeff Jarvis, What Would Google Do? (HarperCollins, 2009)

Jeff Jarvis, Leo Laporte, Ant Pruitt, & Alex Stamos, “Alex Stamos: Is TikTok A Threat? 2024 Election Disinformation” (This Week In Google, 11.30.2022)

Sarah Kendzior, They Knew: How A Culture of Conspiracy Keeps America Complacent (Macmillan, 2022)

Kiese Laymon, Heavy: An American Memoir (Scribners, 2018)

Nesrine Malik, “Elon Musk’s Twitter is Fast Proving That Free Speech At All Costs Is A Dangerous Fantasy” (The Guardian, 11.28.2022)

Mike Masnick, “Masnick’s Impossibility Theorem: Content Moderation At Scale Is Impossible To Do Well” (TechDirt, 11.20.2019)

Mike Masnick, “Protocols, Not Platforms: A Technological Approach To Free Speech” (Knight First Amendment Institute, 8.21.2019)

Deesha Philyaw, The Secret Lives of Church Ladies (West Virginia UP, 2020)

Jay Rosen, “America’s Press & the Asymmetric War For Truth” (New York Review of Books, 11.1.2020)

Olivia Snow & Matt Seybold, “Reckless Monetization, Surveillance Kleptocracy, & Olivia Snow’s Villain Origin Story” (The American Vandal, 12.7.2022)

Gertrude Stein, The Geographical History of America (1936)

Gertrude Stein, The Making of Americans (1925)

Ian Thomsen, “What Is The Future of Black Twitter Under Elon Musk?” (News @ Northeastern, 4.29.2022)

Michael Tratner, Love & Money: A Literary History of Desire (Routledge, 2021)

Michael Tratner, “Modernism & Macroeconomics” in Routledge Companion to Literature & Economics (2018)

Matt Seybold, “Keynes & Keynesianism” in Routledge Companion to Literature & Economics (2018)

Mark Twain, “The Work of Gutenberg” (The Hartford Courant, 6.27.1900)

Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court (1889)

Mark Twain & Charles Dudley Warner, The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today (1873)

Siva Vaidhyanathan, Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us & Undermines Democracy (Oxford UP, 2018)