The Stranger “reviews” twitter and makes the obvious, though necessary point (Constant, Paul, “Paul Constant Reviews Twitter,” The Stranger, 30 June 2009):
So I’m going to say something that might strike you as weird and naive, but it’s true. Listen: The internet is still very, very new.
Most people haven’t even been on the internet for 10 years yet. Ten years! Every technology is lawless frontier after just 10 years.
Television was still radio with scenery 10 years after its inception. People pointed, awestruck, at planes 10 years after Kittyhawk.
We’re just learning what the internet can do, and we’ll learn a lot more once children born today grow up with today’s internet.
For the first three years of twitter, it was easy to lampoon the service as the ultimate medium for whining about first world problems. But then the Iranian election happened and overnight it became a tool for unleashing social transformation and the indispensable news medium. The Internet is still new. Many potential services lay as yet unimplemented. Many will at first seem trivial or demeaning of this or that high value (“Is Google making us stupid?”). They will seem so until the moment when they transform into something utterly other than their original intention, specification, design.
Good point aside, can we have no more articles about twitter written entirely of 140 character paragraphs. It was cute at first, but now it’s just very gimmicky. It was worth it once for the style of the thing, but now to do so only detracts from your larger point. The 140 character message has its place and it is not the short-form essay.
I remember CNN’s moment when Bernard Shaw reported live Baghdad in 1992 as the First Gulf War commenced or Aaron Brown live from Midtown Manhattan as the first tower of the World Trade Center fell. News events like those were the height of old media accomplishment. Right now the most amazing thing happening in the world is the election protests in Iran and I turn on the television hoping for something current and relevant. I’m paying for the extended cable package because I have hitherto thought that when a major story happens, only the big news channels can offer coverage up to the magnitude of the event. On CNN Larry King is interviewing Paul Teutul about his favorite muscle cars and on FOX News Geraldo At Large is interviewing Carrie Prejean about her spat with the Miss USA Pageant. On CNN’s website the lead stories are the Six Flags bankruptcy and the troubles at the FCC hotline over the analog cable shutoff.
The only place for news on Iran right now is twitter, internet forums, YouTube, flickr and various other photo sights where individual Iranians are uploading. Twitter is serving as the guide to it all. I am regularly refreshing the #IranElection twitter hash and getting snippets of what’s happening there in bustles of disorganized 140 character updates. Right now #IranElection, Tehran, Mousavi are the numbers two, four and five highest Trending Topics on twitter. The hash #CNNfail is coming in at number three. When CNN does run some loop story about Iran, they are using still photos culled from FaceBook!
I suspect that within a few days the Iranian police will get a handle on this and the Ahmadinejad victory will be made to stick. This will be unfortunate for the Iranian people and the cause of peace.
However, the new media revolution proceeds apace.
I’m 34 today.
I intended to take the day off and do some biking around like I did last year, but the project that I’m working on was presented to the client and the COO of the company today, so office birthday it was. During the run through yesterday we discovered a show-stopping system flaw and I spent one of the most stressful days of my career in a panicked flurry of debugging and emergency releases. I’m giving myself an IOU on birthday.
Amazon.com gave me a birthday present by delivering a copy of Infinite Jest two days in advance of their estimate (their logistics people are geniuses). Between the book, my twitter and this blog I’m all geared up for Infinite Summer.
Some Seattle artist and I aren’t the only ones who think your pet should be life logging: the British government does too. Reading University has been commissioned to conduct a study of how much wildlife is being destroyed by domestic cats (McKie, Robin, “Special Tags to Measure How Often Cats Kill,” The Observer, 15 February 2009):
“For the first time, cats will be fitted with data loggers that will show their movements, range and behaviour 24 hours a day. We will know when one kills an animal — typically by the way it plays with its prey.
“We will then be able to work out precisely how many animals a cat is killing every year, and from that estimate a national figure. It will be a pretty formidable number.”
Now if they could just get some sort of pattern recognition software to read the live GPS data stream coming off your cat and tweet his kills to your cell phone, then your cat would be twittering too.