Friday, May 22, 2009

Twittering on

I’ve been posting all week about ways of thinking about microblogging and, at the same time, mentioning these thoughts on Twitter. What’s interesting about that is that I get a quick test of the ideas as they form, and can reconfigure them on the basis of feedback. It’s not quite like putting your ideas to the vote, but that casual conversation can help you refine your thinking. Is there a method here? I’m not sure; but one thing that comes up is the unexpected. So for instance, I hadn’t thought that distraction, or the attraction of distraction, played an important part. Quite a few people have referred to Twitter in terms of filling the interstitial spaces or providing an escape for what has become routine, boring or frustrating. So I’m adding that in, too. Then there’s another thing that came from a face-to-face exchange, phrased as I hate it when people tweet too much! Well I’m really interested in that, because maintaining a presence seems to be important, whereas overdoing it is almost viewed as a transgression. Is there an implied rhythm like conversational turn-taking? So here we have the challenge of negotiating an appropriate kind of presence within the obligation to be there in the Twitterverse. Here’s John Tomlinson in The Culture of Speed discussing that sense of obligation. 'There is an increasing tacit assumption - structured into both the work process and wider social etiquette - that we have a social obligation to be both skilled users of the technology and, more importantly, to be almost constantly available to and for communication. That it is a mark of neglect, of irresponsibility, to be off-line, off-message, incommunicado. The denial of instant access to ourselves - not owning a mobile phone, or not keeping it switched on - has rather curiously become a breach of communicational duty, almost a token of cultural marginality. It is something to be owned up to, or defended as a rather defiant, eccentric circumscription of one’s personal time and space.' Well, get back to me on that one (but don’t feel under any pressure).

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