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Gary, I love the personification of the newspaper surrendering to the old man's determined reading. With that image and the question about what social media leaves behind, I felt sure you were going to reflect upon this current cultural moment we are living in, where very few get to experience that feeling of control, mastery, completeness. Most are afflicted with what Johan Galtung called "chronic image flicker" - a constant barrage of images and information. Unlike the old man, we never feel like we have conquered anything; rather, we're just paddling furiously in hopes of keeping our heads above water. I like Thomas Eriksen's question: "How can I sleep at night knowing that I have filtered away 99.99 percent of the information I have been offered; how can I be certain that the 0.01 percent that I actually use is the most relevant bit for me, in so far as I haven‘t even sniffed at the rest? . . . Today, the jungle has become so dense that one needs to be both stubborn and single-minded in order to be well informed about anything at all." The old man in your story doesn't live with this anxiety. His connection to place and pause - that deep, satisfied breath - is what might be left behind.
Joe, I realize this is an old post and I am late to the dance, but as someone new to Twitter (and full of skepticism), your insights and application of theory to Twitter and social media is an excellent introduction to the scene. One of my biggest concerns about social media is the commoditization of relationships, and the movement of identity from a narrative orientation to a database orientation. The excellent Danah Boyd article you pointed to has insights that have just started to dawn upon me as I am connecting with certain people on Twitter: it really is a public discussion with a targeted audience, and much to my surprise, I find it much more meaningful and appealing than Facebook blather with old high school classmates (sorry). Another comment: I can say without a doubt that I have used Google search less since I started following certain folks on Twitter. I have been led to more wonderful sources in my brief time on Twitter than I could have possibly come up with on my own. I like to think of this as a revelation that humans are ultimately the best searchers; take that Sergey Brin! In other words, every like-minded person whom I follow has his or her own set of assumptions, perspectives, and expereinces that he or she has accumulated and perfected over an entire lifetime. Following their lead is much more fruitful for me than simply bringing my singular vision to the subject. Could it be that Twitter is an ideal venue for achieving Burke's ideal of consubstantiation? Well, I'd still prefer a weekend writing retreat with my ten favorite tweeters, but Twitter might not be a bad second option.
Toggle Commented Apr 17, 2011 on The Commoditization of Twitter Followers at Gumption
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Apr 16, 2011