This line from Paul Simon’s Boy in The Bubble of 1986 seems ever more relevant today. Technology assaults us from every angle and as well as the avalanche of information from
all the new sources , the old ones remain in place and in certain areas grow stronger. More newspapers , magazines and the ease of recording yet more TV with hard drives, SKY plus and your PC add to the information blizzard. And as a recent convert to the blogger gods in my late fifties , I am another line of tracer fire in the vast night sky of binary pyrotechnics.
However one area of the “New Media” I struggle to “get” is Twitter. One way to describe it is as a method of sending text like messages to lots of people simultaneously ( or
micro-blogging – gulp and duck )
Rod Liddle in the Sunday Times this weekend commenting on the role of social media channels Twitter and Facebook in the uprising in the Arab world, said about Twitter:
What was previously assumed to be the preserve of incontinent and narcissistic western nano-slebs and their witless chav hangers-on has now, somehow, facilitated a sub-global revolution.
Over here, Twitter and Facebook are still the preserve of existential imbeciles whose lives are meaningless unless they’ve told you that they’ve just taken their dog for a
walk, opened a can of Toast Toppers or seen Cyndi Lauper in Oddbins, or wish to start a political movement predicated on the fact that chives are agents of Satan; but
elsewhere these facilities have, apparently, proved democratically useful rather than merely fantastically irritating.
My own prejudices towards Twitter are based on a number of reasons, some contained in Liddle’s parody but others on a sort of intellectual snobbery about texting ( which is twittering one to one for me ) The ability to send texts is obviously useful in certain situations but why would anyone need 3000 texts a month?
A hierarchy of some of the current outputs of human communications may look like this:
- Neanderthal monosyllabic noises and grunts – 1 or 2 characters or syllables
- cit-eh – Two syllables delivered with a desperate confrontational attitude
- Tweet – A maximum of 140 characters
- txt spk – A maximum of 160 characters
- An average song – 140 words
- A Shakespeare sonnet – 500 words
- A great speech – 1500 words
- A typical novel – 80,000 words
- War and Peace – 561,000 words
- The Bible – 788,000 words
I confess to opening a Twitter account about 3 years ago to see what it was all about, but soon stopped as I could not see the point of being interrupted every 3 or 4 minutes by some overweight comic actor, aka Stephen Fry, telling me and 12,000 others he was stuck in a lift in San Francisco or that cricket pundit, David Lloyd, was going for a pint ( and not suggesting that I joined him )
To try to make this post useful to the uninitiated in the ways of Twitter, here is a short guide:
Twitter is free to use but you need to open an account. You can use it from a smart phone or your PC, you post up messages but they must be no longer then 140 characters. No one will see your post/message unless they “follow” you. You can follow others and then their tweets will be displayed on your twitter screen. You are now a part of the world known as the Twittersphere ( WARNING at this point I hope you have resisted all the tempatations to replace “i”s with “a”s or drop the “w” ) You are a member of the Tweeple. When you get lots of friends and followers and perhaps duplicate the ones you have on facebook , you can call them your tweeps. If you decide to sell something on a well known auction site using twitter then you could be using twebay. Do not send tweets when drunk , these are known as Dweets. You can also Mistweet which is sending a tweet to the wrong person. If all this interests you , then sign up and find out about the pleasures of DM’s, hashtags and retweeting for yourself.