So, yes, Hugh MacLeod of Gaping Void has gone cold turkey on Twitter. It seems some people are upset by the whole situation. This is a pretty fascinating example of how a brand (in this case, a person) is ‘owned’ by its fans. Much like when an artist does something drastic at the risk of alienating fans (Dylan goes electric, oh my), Hugh’s fans feel a sense of ownership and therefore, betrayal at his abandonment. I think they’re attached to the “ideal” of Hugh and not the person. It’s classic relational misunderstanding and something we’ve all probably experienced when you dug someone and they didn’t dig you… errr, or vice versa. Heh, yeah, vice versa…
I don’t feel like Hugh left us all high and dry, especially since he’ll keep his blog going and continue to draw cartoons.
What I’ll miss from his tweets are some of the “finds” he passed along either from other twitterers he followed or interesting articles he came across. We just won’t get that from his blog. He followed a LOT of people, much like Robert Scoble does. Used in this fashion, Twitter can quickly consume your day if you’re not prudent with your time.
I met Hugh at SXSW this year and he was both friendly and attentive and these traits could be what drove him away from Twitter. You just can’t have THAT many personal contacts without sacrificing something else. Maybe he will come back to Twitter and use it like some suggest: as a way to blast 1-way communications. That would be grand, but in the meantime, I know where to find the cat and I look forward to more ‘tooning.
[UPDATE] Late on the 15th, Hugh re-emerged in the Twitter universe and started slinging some serious mud at folks who were dragging his name, reputation and “brand” through some other serious mud. It was acerbic and today (the 16th) it looks like he removed the nasty comments from his Twitter thread (if that’s possible). The drama continues.