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What the New Twitter Rules Mean for Uni Watch

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[Editor’s Note: This post is now essentially moot because Twitter has rescinded the rule on which the post was based. But I’m leaving the post up, at least for now, since it prompted a lively discussion. — Paul]

Hello! Hope everyone had a good weekend, especially our Canadian readers — happy post-Canada Day!

Now then: As you may have heard and/or experienced, Twitter is no longer allowing people to view tweets unless they’re logged in. This is supposedly a temporary thing, but for now it means that if we link to a tweet in the Ticker — something we tend to do a lot of every day — you won’t be able to see the tweet unless you have a Twitter account. If you don’t have an account (or if you have one but aren’t signed in), you’ll just see a login page or an error message.

This development has occasioned some frustration on the part of Uni Watch readers who don’t have Twitter accounts, several of whom have said things like this (I’m paraphrasing here): “It’s really annoying that Twitter has done this, but they’re such jerks, so I’m not surprised. I refuse to get a Twitter account because I don’t want to support them, so could you maybe start embedding tweets instead of linking to them? Or maybe take a screen shot of the tweet and then link to that?”

Now, I can think of all sorts of very good reasons why people might not want to have a Twitter account. The dialogue on Twitter is often idiotic at best, toxic at worst. The platform’s expansive reach has given oxygen to some of the worst elements in our cultural discourse, its algorithm tends to create an outrage-driven feedback loop that’s not healthy for anyone, and its 240-character limit guarantees that complex ideas get boiled down to oversimplified sound bites — and all of those were already problems before the current owner took over and made things worse.

So yeah, I can understand why someone wouldn’t want to be on Twitter. I wouldn’t be on there myself if it weren’t essential for my work (Twitter long ago overtook email as the way most people submit tips and observations to Uni Watch), and I’ve said many times that the very first thing I will do when I eventually retire is get off of Twitter. Can’t wait!

That said, however, it seems to me that if you don’t want anything to do with Twitter, then you should, you know, not want anything to do with Twitter. Those readers who came to me and said, “I’m boycotting this thing, so could you please devise a workaround?” are basically trying to have it both ways: They want the content but they don’t want to be associated with the content; they want the benefits of the thing without any of the obligations of the thing; they want the righteousness of boycottng something without any of the accompanying hassles or sacrifices that a boycott sometimes entails.

As a media professional, I find that troubling, because it’s a microcosm of how people tend to view internet content in general. What Twitter’s doing here isn’t quite the same as a paywall, but it’s similar in the sense that they’re making access to their content conditional instead of universal. And just as I see nothing wrong with paywalls, I also see nothing wrong with Twitter’s sign-in requirement, which seems like a minor inconvenience at worst. (You could easily just sign up for a dummy account, right?) But people have become so accustomed to getting free, unrestricted internet content that they tend to interpret any friction point, whether it’s a paywall or just a registration requirement, as an affront.

That’s an unfortunate development, on several levels. Most obviously, it’s bad for the journalism industry, which continues to shed jobs at an alarming rate because the business model based on unpaid traffic doesn’t work. Beyond that, though, it seems pretty obvious at this point that if you insist on consuming only media content that you can get for free, you ultimately get what you pay for. Or to put it another way, maybe Twitter wouldn’t be such a race-to-the-bottom shitshow, filled with so many trolls and charlatans, if people had to pay for it. But whether on Twitter or anywhere else on the web, many people tend to think of free content as an entitlement.

Anyway: I’ll continue to embed tweets where it makes sense to do so (like at the top of this post). But embedding tweets instead of linking to them wouldn’t work within the format of the Ticker, and screen-shotting every tweet we link to and then uploading and linking to the screen shots would be too cumbersome, so we won’t be doing that either — sorry. We’ll keep linking to various tweets, just as we often link to paywalled content, and you folks can decide whether to subscribe, or register, or whatever — up to you. Since the Twitter folks say the registration requirement is just temporary, links to tweets will presumably be back to normal soon. In the meantime, this episode certainly demonstrates how spoiled we’ve all become by having free, unfettered access to social media content, which seems like something worth reflecting on.



Too Good for the Ticker

Phil had these amazing Astros tequila sunrise dolls in yesterday’s Ticker, but they’re so cool that I decided they’re worth a closer look. Here’s the rear view (note the home plate-shaped pockets!):

After I tweeted those photos on Saturday, Twitter-er @zimreapers responded with these pics of a Reds version:

The Reds guy has a bit of an Alfred E. Neuman feel to him, no?

I don’t think I’ve ever seen these before. Did they have them for every team?

Update: Reader Chris Taylor has just provided pics of his Cardinals doll:



Sale Reminder

In case you missed it last week, the folks at Teespring are picking up the tab for a site-wide 20% sale. That means you can save some decent coin and Uni Watch will still get its full cut of the revenue — a win-win!

This sale applies to everything in our Uni Watch, Naming Wrongs, and Uni Rock online stores. In order to claim your discount, use the checkout code SUMMERVIBES20 (I know, I know) anytime from now through July 12. Enjoy!



This is a mothball vaporizer, much like the ones I collect (although it doesn’t have vent holes on the sides, so I’m not sure how the gas was supposed to affect the moths). I can’t get over that illustration of a devil gleefully prancing around with an insecticide gun, complete with the little curlicue in his tail — so good!

Comments (63)

    I’m less frustrated by twitter requiring a sign in to view its website (that makes lots of sense) than I am by them restricting how many posts per day you can view on twitter even if you have an account. Especially with the way you taken in content on twitter by scrolling. I personally have deleted my twitter account as of 6 months ago but from past use it was very easy to scroll past 400 posts in a couple swipes.

    This is in no way being mean, but If you need to view 600+ tweets a day, maybe look in to an activity like surfing or skydiving? Something.

    If you scroll past tweets those still count as views. If you go through the replies on a popular tweet you’ll rack up views. People are hitting that 600 tweet limit in 5-10 minutes.

    As someone who has never had an account, I have to say that restricting the # of views by those who do have accounts seems more unfair since they are supposed to be the customers, not me. There seem to be people who make a living by commenting on other people’s tweets, and they can’t do that now.

    And I have a sneaking suspicion that this situation is not going away quickly, or they’d have an explanation for their intentions.

    “(You could easily just sign up for a dummy account, right?)”

    I’ve never been on Twitter. Can I sign up for a dummy account or do they ask for legitimate personal identification?

    I personally use a dummy email account as my registration for twitter – easy enough to create a “Twitter-only” Gmail account and use that. :)

    Nope, just put in a fake DOB and create a fake GMail account to link to the Twitter account.

    I quit the Twit a few years ago because it became addictive. Not going back for any reason.

    I’ve heard that sentiment plenty in the last few years. I was the opposite. I never became addicted because it was always boring to me. I quit passively, after realizing I hadn’t looked at it in a year or two.

    No Twitter account for me, thanks. I’ll wait out the login requirement.

    I’m not on Twitter and don’t ever plan to be, even it is free. I’m also not on Facebook and don’t ever plan to be.
    I understand the bind UW is in but I disagree with the idea that the people here are “trying to have their cake and eat it too”. Speaking for myself, I am just trying to see visual evidence of a change in uniform or a new concept. I don’t have a subscription to The Athletic anymore so I just have to forgo those links as it is. Twitter is a bigger issue because so many people use Twitter to disseminate things quickly but with a little online detective work, I can probably find what I am looking for. But I felt this way about Twitter before Elon Musk made it his bully pulpit.

    I agree with this sentiment. You can hardly blame the general public for a decision (to disseminate through Twitter and not some other platform) made by the one doing the sharing, not the ones the sharing is targeted at. Paul’s assertion that these targets “want the benefits of the thing without any of the obligations of the thing” seems off-base to me; they don’t want to engage with other Twitterers or the Twitter platform; they just want to see, from the outside, something that another person is telling them they should see. They want to look at the clothing in a store’s window display, not enter the store, take up employees’ time, try on the clothing, or anything else.

    Whenever I’ve shared images on here, I’ve put them on places like imgur and, where anyone can view them and the cost is transparent (you go to the site, you get to see the image plus an ad). If people found those sites offensive for whatever reason and asked me to host them somewhere else, I’d happily consider their request rather than calling them entitled.

    I had (or maybe still have) a St. Louis Cardinals version of those dolls. I’ll try to find it and post a picture, but do remember he wasn’t in great condition.

    Now that I can see the dolls, I would venture to say these were created for most teams. I have a Yankee one from late 70s, early 80s packed away in my attic.

    I have no problem with paying for content that I believe worth it. While I have plenty of issues with twitter that predate the current overlord, my concern with policies like this is that they so often don’t work. I’ve signed up for both free (Washington Post, free to government employees) and paid (The Boston Globe), only to have the accounts stop working after a short time. So it’s just not worth it to me to bother signing up for twitter, even for free. Hell, my dormant twitter account appears to have been compromised somehow (and I know it wasn’t me, as I’d not logged in or tried to for over five years), and I can’t even bother restoring access. It’s just not worth it the effort.

    FWIW, I am not Uniwatch+, not because I want to freeload, just that I am a more casual Uniwatcher, and I get all the content I need under the ad-supported model. I’m really happy, Paul, that the Substack model seems to be working for you, and I hope it continues to succeed. (I do click on more ads from this site than any other ad-supported site I frequent because UW has consistently relevant and interesting ads. Hopefully that helps a bit.)

    I am wholly with you on the corrosiveness of users’ expectations of free, unfettered content. I’ll pay for what’s worth it to me, including the hassle factor. I’ll gladly deal with ads for content less valuable to me. Webmedia orgs just have to figure out a better way to manage logins and account access. I was hopeful, honestly, when Google and FB logins became usable on various other sites (no new signups!), but even that hasn’t worked well for me for a couple of years.

    I’m disappointed that I won’t be able to see some of the linked/embedded content on UW, but I understand all the points you made, both philosophical and practical. Best of luck with everything as always.

    While I don’t recall a stuffed Mets doll, I vividly remember a slightly larger inflatable Mets player in the early 1970s. As testament to being a very early Uni Watcher, I remember drawing a number 4 in blue and orange and gluing it on for Rusty Staub. I also drew a picture of Rusty and while on the field during the Mayor’s Trophy Game in 1973, I gave it to Duffy Dyer in the Met dugout to give to Rusty. I saw Duffy at summer camp that August with the Mets in last place and asked him if he gave it to Rusty. He gruffly said “if you gave me it to give to Rusty, I gave it to him. “

    Duffy spoke to my Cub Scout group during the offseason, just before he was traded to Pittsburgh. Until then, no Met could do any wrong in my eyes. But that night, I came home thinking, “what a jerk.”

    Those Astros/Red dolls remind me of the classic talking Flip Wilson/Geraldine doll. (Not paywalled or on Twitter) link


    This is a lovely reflection on the current media environment, its unhealth and – consequently – our unhealth as consumers. My favorite example of free online news stories: radio station websites with clickbait titles that string you past 20 ads to tell you another chain restaurant is opening across town. :)

    I came across this issue a few days ago. Gave it about 10 seconds of thought and decided I’ll just have to live without seeing the content linked to twitter. I quit that place a couple of years ago and my blood pressure thanked me.

    I have been on Twitter for several years after being a proud “I am not on Twitter guy.” I found it unfortunately the best or only way to reach certain people or companies. You could interact with an author, tv announcer, company exec or the foremost expert in marine biology. It also allowed me to see tweets in articles and the ticker here. I am certainly no fan of the new owner and probably would never have joined had he owned it then. So while the negatives of being on Twitter have all been mentioned, it could serve a purpose to create a dummy account. Follow a small number of accounts that interest you and keep the feed off the Twitter algorithm and only to accounts you follow.

    To be honest.. The internet, social media, and all of it in general is just a total mess…. Toxic. Just give me a damn newspaper. That’s where I’m at. Uni-watch is about my only web browsing from here on out… I would imagine that it must be exhausting for Paul to constantly deal with.

    I don’t have Twitter, and while that content would be nice to see, I understand your reaction to how it’s been presented here. I take no umbridge against you. And my annoyance at links that show nothing is only directed at Musky.

    I agree, I also wouldn’t want to make more work for Paul and the team especially since unlike Twitter they do provide their work for free without requiring a login or subscription.

    If there is a twitter link for something I really want to see I’ll just google it.

    The use of Twitter is what you make of it. I make it a positive experience for me by choosing who I follow and the content I follow. This helps keep the negative away. It can be avoided. You can always block someone if you don’t want to see their message.

    I use it mostly to follow sports. It is a quick source for sports uniform news. I hope this annoying new feature is temporary because it has always been a really great source to help with contributing to Sunday’s Canadian University Uni Watch for the football uniforms in the fall. Source of photos/information later in the day on Saturday a few hours after a game can be harder to find with U Sports football compared to NCAA games.

    See, people say all the time, “just follow people/topics” you care about, and your Twitter feed with be all unicorns & rainbows!”

    Nuh-uh, thats not how algorithms work. Between promoted tweets, retweets, sponsored tweets, whatever tweets, my carefully curated feed is a complete s-show.
    And I no longer have the time nor ability to care to clean it up.

    I have a twitter, but am not logged in. I’ve only kept it so that I could see an occasional tweet that someone had shared elsewhere. With this change, I’ll suck it up and just not have Twitter content available to me.
    If this change becomes permanent, I don’t see why I would keep the service. I can’t imagine anyone paying for Twitter, that seems nuts to me (with the current owner involved or not), but whatever.


    Between promoted tweets, retweets, sponsored tweets, whatever tweets, my carefully curated feed is a complete s-show.
    Make sure you’re in the “Following” column, not the “For You” column. A couple of times I got switched over to “For You” and yeah… that’s a mess.
    Both options are at the top of the screen in your feed. You can also make a list of certain accounts and just read those if you desire.

    You beat the algorithm by actively following the accounts that suit your interests while not following, unfollowing, muting, and blocking those that don’t. In the “for you” feed with content suggestions, you can mark that you aren’t interested in that content and then see much less or none of it. This is a process that never ends, but it works. My “following” feed is what I want it to be because any garbage that sneaks through immediately gets thrown overboard.

    The problem with platforms like Twitter is that so much information is now on there by default. There are no alternatives when reporters are disseminating all their info in tweets, or teams are making all their announcements on twitter. It is easy and convenient, but now is a necessity rather than an option (depending on the news you like to hear about or the business you are involved in).

    That is why I like sites like Uni-Watch however, because it is great to come here and get curated information with some input from knowledgable people. But like you said, Twitter is a necessity in order for this site to run these days.

    The fact that it is a necessity is why they are able to make it a worse place for everyone involved now that someone needs to make a lot money off of it. It’s further into the process of ‘enshittification’ that it’s been going down. Create a site that is easy to use and provides a service better than has been done, wait until the cost of switching is too high to pay for the users, then make the user experience worse and worse in order to wring out ad revenue or direct money from users. There’s nowhere else to go (or at least nowhere on the same level yet) so now it’s time to cash in. Check out Cory Doctorow’s writing (on twitter! or his website) if you want to read about his idea of enshittification

    I am a recluse when it comes to social media and as long as my job allows me to be like that I will. I like scientific and statistical facts more than opinions, even my own. If you do not like Twitter, ignore its existence, if you do not like twitter but are curious about some content: create an account. If you really like twitter and love engaging in the daily storm of unhinged opinions and baseless gossip, be my guest.

    Those nice Astros dolls seem to be wearing Puma shoes. The can is a beauty and that at 7 inches, the size of a 45 vinyl.

    Just chiming in if you’re monitoring the replies to gauge reactions about the Twitter dilemna. I never have and never will be a Twitter user. Lots of reasons. While I would appreciate a visual of what you may be referencing with the use of a simple screen shot, I respect your decision.

    So much of twitter is content that is generated elsewhere. Many twitter posts are just videos from the MLB or team website etc. Can UniWatch link to the actual source URL in those cases?

    I have two simple rules when it comes to Twitter… never read the comments, and unfollow anyone that talks about politics. Since I started employing these rules I have had a positive Twitter experience. I use it primarily for sports content, but often found myself going down rabbit holes of toxicity because of the comments or political posts I read.

    “many people tend to think of free content as an entitlement.”
    I’m old enough to remember when cable TV was new, and practically everyone was upset about paying for it, and many got it illegally. Heck, Seinfeld even had an episode about it. Now many are outraged that Netflix is cracking down on shared accounts. How dare these companies wanting to make money for their products. There are streamers like Pluto who don’t charge since they have commercials, but I’m guessing that model isn’t nearly as popular since we’re now conditioned to expect no commercials.

    You get a lot less commercials on Pluto than you do on network TV, so it’s popular with me.
    I always thought the web was supposed to be like the library. The monthly fee you pay for internet service is like the taxes you pay to fund the library. So you’re not getting “free content,” whether you’re surfing for an article or reading an out of town paper from the reference section. I don’t have to subscribe to every paper at the library, so I think it’s a bit much to have to subscribe to every paper on the web even if you’re barely going to use them.
    I’m not against subscribing to some things, obviously (I do have an account here, after all), but my bank account and my reading time have limits. I’ll just do without some things.
    Actually, I have Twitter (I know how to use it wisely and sparingly) so today’s piece isn’t an issue for me. Now if you started using TikTok as your main way to post things and they had the same restrictions, oh well… I’ll do without.
    Most of the time I won’t even read something if I get the cookie installation warning.

    The problem with your analogy is that the ISP you pay for Internet isn’t the content provider, but the deliverer. Newspapers have done a horrible job adapting to the Internet. While I understand the impulse to each focus on their own subscriptions as in the print days, it would really behove them to collaborate on the subscription front. Apple tried to do this with Apple News Plus, with a single subscription that allowed you to read many papers for a reasonable price (more in line with your tax:library analogy). But all the major national papers dropped out except for WSJ because they didn’t want to share. It’s like they don’t want people to read them, because at their current prices, unless you’re going to read the entire “paper” every day, it doesn’t make financial sense to subscribe. There’s no modern equivalent of buying a single issue from a vending machine or cafe or diner patrons sharing a paper anymore. And we wonder why people are driven to free, sensationalized drivel in their Twitter feeds.

    all the major national papers dropped out except for WSJ because they didn’t want to share. It’s like they don’t want people to read them, because at their current prices, unless you’re going to read the entire “paper” every day, it doesn’t make financial sense to subscribe

    Exactly. So maybe some of the blame should be on the papers themselves than on us so-called entitled complainers.

    And even if it didn’t make financial sense, I’d consider my local paper if it wasn’t so bad. I read my sister’s every so often and I can’t believe how it’s gone downhill. I’ll pay for good journalism, but not JFJS.

    That Reds doll is quite Alfred E. Neuman-esque. I think you’ve hit on something awesome: how about MLB (or any sport for that matter) dolls with Alfred E. Neuman’s face, and humorous team names. Like, the Reds could be the “Deads” or something equally silly? I would be all over those! Perhaps it’s a small market though, since I’m old enough to know what Mad magazine is, vs some younger folk. Not sure if Mad is still much of a “thing”.

    As a kid I once drew in pen (poorly) on a sheet of notebook paper NHL team logos rendered with humorous names. I am sure I was not being completely original and that I got the names from somewhere else, maybe one of the Elston comics in The Hockey News: Detroit Dead Things, New York Strangers, New Jersey Shovels, Toronto Make-Believes, Washington Crapitals, and so on. Sadly, or maybe for the best, that sheet of paper no longer survives.

    I did that, myself, ensuring bag-headed fans would have something to write on their paper sacks. My favorite? The Minnesota No Stars.

    There was some sweatshirts out with those way back when – remember seeing them at the local K-mart (which places them at least as far back as the 1980’s). On the front of the sweatshirt they had a handful of cartoonish goofy full body players in equipment with the mocking team name (i.e. Minnesota No Stars, Detroit Dead Things, etc.)

    Found some of these dolls for the Tigers and Pirates – love that the kid who owned the Pirates one “customized” it to be Rennie Stennett: link

    Note that the Tigers one has an excessive number of belt loops — just like the real Tigers’ pants at the time!

    Twitter was bad before Musk, and everything he’s done has made it worse and worse. (And as such, made media in general worse and worse.) I look forward to the day it’s gone.

    Less censorship for “average” users has been a Huge improvement…
    It’s a platform of equality and free speech…
    Nothing to dislike, other than voluntarily-chosen viewed content

    This, like many other recent internet and content creator events (Reddit, The Athletic), is prompting me to rethink how I consume information and maintain a daily media diet. I will continue to support Paul and this site, but will definitely cut back my time here. I was already losing interest in the Ticker in recent years, as it was primarily a Twitter link-out, but I think the decision to continue with the status quo is the wrong one.

    Virtually all organizations, public figures and media outlets pushed so much content to these free-to-use social media services at their own cost. That cost is loss of jobs for media professionals and a social cost, where once-trusted information was forced to play in the same space as misinformation.

    Every media organization and professional needs to re-think the way that information and cited sources are linked out, especially to a platform which has a bad actor as the owner. Whether his scheme is one to extract more money following a terrible investment, or because the site is broken due to his decision to drain the workforce, or because he’s not paying the bills, it doesn’t mean the rest of us have to play along with his rules. We’ll just go somewhere else, and everyone who provides content should be thinking about where that is.

    It’s important for people to spend time with good sources of information and good community, like this one. It’s not worth it to engage with platforms that are actively harming the greater online world (and the real world, as a result).

    I’ve read through the comments and haven’t read anyone mention this Twitter frustration.
    I read this blog on my phone. I scroll through Twitter on my phone using the app. I can have the Twitter app open and reading Tweets and still be blocked from seeing your Twitter links because I’m not signed in to the Twitter website.
    Maybe Musk shouldn’t have fired quite so many software coders.

    Have signed up to Twitter quite a while back but rarely use it, other than links that lead there and for a handful of businesses that update their information on places like that first and their own website last (if at all).

    Excluding the content and recent changes, the whole set up of Twitter sure isn’t intuitive or useful for me to find things. Never bothered to learn the ins and outs of it – if there are pluses to it I’m not aware of them. Never understood the great appeal of Twitter. Facebook I spend more time on.

    There’s an old joke that appears to be coming true:

    At some point YouTube, Twitter and Facebook will all merge into one large platform called “YouTwitFace”.

    Happy Independence Day.

    Twitter is what you make of it. If you’re getting garbage and negative tweets in your feed, it means you’re following the wrong accounts. Follow the accounts that give you the content you want. Ruthlessly unfollow, mute, and block accounts that don’t fit your idea of quality.

    Stick primarily to the “following” feed and only go to the “for you” feed occasionally because the latter can be very spotty with its recommendations. Twitter isn’t Facebook. You don’t need to follow Cousin Annie or some dude you went to high school or college with. Treat it like a customized news and information feed, while remembering that you can pick what you want to see and can constantly editing the accounts you follow and that follow you.

    There is no reason for anyone to have a bad Twitter experience because you/we control the content to the extent that we choose the accounts we follow.

    I’m not a Twitter user and don’t if I don’t see the content. However, it would be nice to identify the Twitter links in the post, in a similar way that pay-walled links are identified. That way, non-Twitter users can know they can skip clicking on a link that won’t work for them. Thanks so much!

    The Ticker has already stopped labeling paywall articles. Continuing with Twitter despite their changes renders probably over half the news links on a daily basis irrelevant to a large segment of your reader base (people with no account, or who already used their five minutes of scrolling).

    Ultimately, I think this problem will solve itself, as I think an exodus from Twitter is coming. Twitter’s fate as the next MySpace seems more and more likely.

    Ultimately, social media networks are only as valuable as the content users create for them. Trying to impose value upon them artificially seems mildly like a fool’s errand.

    If we would have been smarter about their creation, I’d almost argue they should be treated more like roads (DOTs), over-the-air TV stations (the FCC) or even the phone company or other utilities where there’s at least some level of governmental control and oversight to ensure access for just about all, with the more egalitarian (in theory, at least) “payment for the service” coming from taxes. Attach at least some values and principles beyond just “data & profit.”

    Anyhow, if folks leave Twitter, then folks won’t send links from Twitter, and I’m about at that point with Twitter. I’ll keep my free account, but as someone who has sent a tweet after every play in every Packers game for most of the last decade, I both am not planning on paying for the service and would hit the rate limit by about the end of the first quarter of games from what I’m seeing of the current service.

    We all make choices. Given the direction Musk has decided to take his service, I won’t pay him money to support what he supports, and I’ll be content to do without the information he and the people who do pay him provide accordingly. And, ultimately, I think enough people will feel the same that we’ll just gather somewhere else, maybe even somewhere where we are willing to pay for what they stand for.

    Accordingly, be ready to link to Bluesky.

    “I can’t get over that illustration of a devil gleefully prancing around with an insecticide gun, complete with the little curlicue in his tail — so good!”

    I learned courtesy of a Marx Brothers movie adaptation into a play, that that device has a slang name called “flisk”. What perfect onomatopoeia!

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