Seen & Heard

From Twitter to X: My Take

The paradox of x: We use it to mark what we’re after as well as to cross things out.

Yes, the Twitter logo was iconic. Many have expressed fondness, nostalgia even, for its tweetness.  If the company’s ultimate goal were to retain and grow a loyal audience of users based on the way so many millions continue to use Twitter to this day, the case for holding onto it would be sound.

Break Along the X

It’s clear that in many ways Elon Musk has broken Twitter, or at least broken Twitter as we have known it. Which leads to an interesting question: Is moving from “Twitter” to “X” the next installment in an unfolding case study of how to destroy a business and a brand? Or is it a shot across the bow heralding something so much bigger and bolder?  Something that requires, or at least tolerates, yet one more act of wanton experimentation and creative destruction?

Maybe Musk purchased Twitter more for its bones than its brand. Maybe Twitter, with all of the brand associations it has acquired over the years, isn’t such a good name, in the end, for the “everything app” Musk envisions. I tend to think it isn’t. “Twitter” feels way too twee and confining for that.

If progress is really underway on the everything app, and if Musk is really seriously investing in it, then moving to a new name makes perfect sense. Pivotal moments are precisely the time to introduce a new name. Grumbling almost always ensues—and then settles down, barring anything egregious.

X and the Power to Polarize

As for”X”? If I owned the rights to that name and the URL that goes with it, I’d feel pretty damned good. I’d also like to think I’d reserve it for something really special and important—like an everything app.

In itself, “X” is polarizing, as numerous linguists and psychologists have noted. X-rated content is strictly for the grownups. I wouldn’t necessarily welcome a personalized version of the app that I was encouraged to call “My X.” But I might be interested in the treasure I’d discover at the point on the map labeled “X marks the spot.”

Musk isn’t the only tech heavyweight enamored of “X,” by the way. “X” is also the name Google uses for X Development LLC, nicknamed “the moonshot factory.” It’s the place where Google people “create radical new technologies to solve some of the world’s hardest problems.”  I wonder how the folks at Google-X feel about Musk-X.

FWIW, I de-platformed Twitter shortly after Musk acquired it, for reasons I’ve gone into elsewhere. I’m not sure I would like an everything app from him, to the extent I would want such a thing from anyone. (There’s something a bit Sauron like about it: “One ring to rule them all, one ring to bind them.”)

But I know I’d be more inclined to try it as “X” than as “Twitter.”  Among other things,”X” opens a least a small window to giving the benefit of the doubt.

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