Monthly Archives: March 2007

Of Twitteration

In 23 years of entanglement with microcomputers (and 45 with computing in general) I’ve often been at the point of wondering “now what’s this going to do for/to me? How’s it going to fit into/transform what I do?”, and I’m there again, thinking about where Twitter fits in my digital evolution.

Twitter seems to assume that its users enjoy pervasive computing (with an extension to mobile appliances that I have no truck with), and a gaggle of like-minded friends. It also assumes (as does IM) that one can tolerate being “interrupt-driven”…

For me, Twitter offers a welcome level of granularity/resolution that fits into my use of the blogworld by offering instantaneous whazzup?, where blog postings are usually more carefully constructed –sort of a bitbucket, into which to tuck the passing thought or interest that I might want to be able to get back to, or eventually fit into an emerging chronotope.

Like Tagging, the primary use for me is as a tool to manage my OWN infoverse, and it’s only secondarily Social. It’s interesting to be able to look back at whatwhens (and I’ve experimented with a variety of them, currently including an autolog.txt Notepad doc on my desktop), to manage one’s own process, and perhaps to build, gradually, a Legacy …though for whom I’m not sure. All this seems a bit solopsistic: it’s for me, for my own appreciation and shifting purposes. If others happen to find it, or think it interesting to follow because they know/knew me in some sense, and have some interest in what I’m up to, so much the better.

There aren’t a lot of people I’m aware of being interested in following the microactivities of, and indeed one can only sustain such attention for a small number. Ron and Bryan are two I’m tracking now, but others might be added, just as I’ve added blogs to my RSS stable (and shed blogs too, of course).

In a few days I’ll be offline for a week-long yoga retreat, and it’ll be interesting to see if Twitter still seems to have resonance for me when I return.

In a deeper or maybe broader sense, as a Phenomenon and an act in the unfolding of Social Computing, danah boyd sees it more clearly than anybody else I’ve read so far:

You write whatever you damn well please and it spams all of the people who agreed to be your friends. The biggest strength AND weakness of Twitter is that it works through your IM client (or Twitterrific) as well as your phone. This means that all of the tech people who spend far too much time bored on their laptops are spamming people at a constant rate. Ah, procrastination devices. If you follow all of your friends on your mobile, you’re in for a hellish (and very expensive) experience.

…I think it’s funny to watch my tech geek friends adopt a social tech. They can’t imagine life without their fingers attached to a keyboard or where they didn’t have all-you-can-eat phone plans. More importantly, the vast majority of their friends are tech geeks too. And their social world is relatively structurally continuous. For most 20/30-somethings, this isn’t so. Work and social are generally separated and there are different friend groups that must be balanced in different ways.

…Like with bulletins, it’s pretty ostentatious to think that your notes are worth pushing to others en masse. It takes a certain kind of personality to think that this kind of spamming is socially appropriate and desirable. Sure, we all love to have a sense of what’s going on, but this is push technology at its most extreme. You’re pushing your views into the attention of others (until they turn it or you off).

(from apophenia)

Addendum: Kathy Sierra’s graph and TwitterVision are essential extensions of the discussion…

On the Force being with one

In answer to Max’s query, Robert Force is HERE, complete with a digital version of In Search of the Wild Dulcimer and musical examples and oh jeez a whole lot of other stuff. Now it’s time to dust off that Mike Rugg rosewood CapriTaurus dulcimer that’s been sitting on the shelf:
dulcimers for two
(it’s the one Kent is playing –and it’s really his, but lives with me until he comes to reclaim it. I’d love to see him, but… The one I’m playing is by Paul Reisler, and resides chez Ron Brunton. These bits of provenance might matter someday.)

Dulcimer stuff

Now and again a really resonant wave collapses on my desktop, and this morning it’s the video of Robert Force doing “On the Hard Drive Now” (12MB, about 3 minutes) linked at Old Blue Bus. Jeez, I’m gettin’ to be one of those Old Guys who remembers when… and gets out the old Richard and Mimi Fariña records for a bout of nostalgia. Suppose I’ll hafta reread Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me. Yup, there it is on the top shelf…

On creativity, and bittersweetness

Don’t miss ZeFrank in his Last Week of The Show. Today’s episode is both poignant and pointed, as the best of his whatevertheyares generally are. Trying to find the words to describe my own emotional entanglement with The Show, I’m projected toward polyvalent and semantically fraught expressions from other languages: the Portuguese Saudade and the German Sehnsucht as in Reitz’s Heimat series, and Wikipedia points me to the Japanese expression Mono no aware. The archive of the year’s shows (mentioned today, and to be sponsored by ??Dewar’s??) is gonna be rich territory for mashups.

Stepping in the same river

I spent the weekend walking around Boston and Cambridge, revisiting old haunts and enjoying the leading edge of what will eventually turn into Spring. Among the locales I visited were Harvard’s Agassiz Museum (nowadays it’s called “Natural History”) and Peabody Museum of Anthropology, both of which I frequented at several points in my young and not-so-young life. Many of my favorites were still in place, and I could trace the distant origins of later fascinations. The stuffed animals were pretty startling because I remembered expressions and postures very exactly. Even the basic smells of the place are pretty much the same as they were when I first knew them about !! 60 !! years ago… Amongst the ornithological specimens I found illustrations for

Auk! that’s no puffin I know
Can’t pronounce “guillemot”
...can't pronounce 'guillemot'
That’s a murre
...that's a murre

(Hark back to mid-2006 for other “That’s amore” variants)

Another bit of resonance was the ceiling-hung skeleton of a Right Whale which I can remember being especially impressed by as a child:

business end of a baleen whale

…which was (doubtless) the source of the image I used to retail to classes of students as an analogy for the search process: you take in a LOT of information and sort through it as a baleen whale sieves krill, keeping the tasty bits…

Another image, from a later date, is provided by the Pirarucu


…the namesake of the Collaborative Information Management tool I was working on in Summer 2002 –a scheme that was Ahead of Its Time.

A seriously wonderful CD

Ry Cooder’s brand new My Name is Buddy is surely not for just everybody, but it certainly has brightened the corner where I am for the last 24 hours (ever since the UPS dude delivered it, still warm from the anvil). Sidemen include Mike Seeger and Roland White (to cite two of my own musical heroes), and the artwork on the album is stunning too. Check out this story from last Sunday’s Observer for further details and inducements to purchase.

EatingAsia again

Really the most mouth-watering food writing AND food photography (surely this complex vice needs a name… gustopr0n?). Today’s episode, on a Hokkienese Hideaway in Kuala Lumpur, is paradigmatic, no doubt about it. Just drink in the poetry:

Her wide, stubby yam strips go all sticky-chewy in a dark soy-soused stir-fry with cabbage, pork, and shrimp. White cabbage, Chinese celery, and pork cracklins add crunch, but the overriding flavor here is a wonderful char from the high-fired wok

That last phrase is the chorus of a foodie chantefable that I aspire to write someday.