Saturday, February 6, 2010

Net Noise


118 posts in, I'm still finding Twitter largely pointless. It's just not *enough* for me to care about--Facebook has these big huge profiles and blogs have as much space as you would like, but there's almost no way to determine who you are dealing with on Twitter unless you know them already. And most people *don't* distill well into 140 characters (I count myself in this group)--Twitter is boring because most posts are a) links to articles or other people's twitter posts that I am not going to follow because there is no commentary provided and I don't know where the "tiny url" will take me, b) comments on other people's twitter posts that I didn't read at the time and now can't find (why on earth don't think link the comments to the posts? why?), so the comments make no sense to me, or c) boring.

I've been told that I'm bored by Twitter because I refuse to accept it as it's own medium, and keep waiting for it to be Facebook or a blog (witness the above refusal to call Twitter posts "tweets"--I just can't anymore). Even those Twitter friends of mine who Twitter amusingly, if they (used to) have a blog I keep wishing they'd expand the point (you know who you are).

Someone said that I would like Twitter better if I followed celebrities, and when I said I don't know any celebrities, said I didn't have to. Apparently Twitter is less like Facebook, where you friend people you know in real life in order to keep up with daily adventures and thoughts and share your own (well, that's what I'm doing on Facebook) and more like a blog, where you offer thoughts and opinions to the wide world o'strangers, and see if there's anyone out there who is interested in them.

So I'm trying, and have a (very) few celebrity Twitter recommendations of Twitter feeds you might enjoy. I like the tiny stories of Arjun Basu (although they often strike me as installments of one larger story). I also follow novelist/short-story writer/playwright AL Kennedy, who is very wry and funny about literary celebrity in Britain (she's always unwell, on a train, about to go speak to a conference of people for reasons she does not understand.) And I'm not even sure how this happened, but for a while now I've been following someone named Nerdy Girl, who turns out to be the publisher of This Magazine, Lisa Whittington-Hill, and also is hilarious.


I'm still reading Penelope Trunk's blog. I know, I shouldn't, but I think it fills the gap in my life that people with TVs fill with reality shows about sex rehab and how renovating your house can wreck your marriage. She's such a self-righteous, self-important train-wreck, and yet she's not stupid and occasionally makes good points. For example, you could read certain bits of her post of frugality and be reminded of how we all choose our own financial constraints--those who consider life not worth living without a two-car garage will be stuck paying for that, and will have to work accordingly. Those content with a driveway--or a bike--will have more flexibility in their career options and/or more discretionary income.

Great points, and inspiring for those who feel their jobs might become too much at some point (hi!) But then she goes off on how what really matters is having household help so you can devote yourself to work, as well as a flash car to impress clients, and you realize she's a lunatic capitalist. But it still makes for fun reading.

There's better reading afoot in the blogosphere, however. Have you seen Mark Sampson's new(ish) Free-range Reading blog? It's got book reviews and lit news, but a bit unusual for a lit blog is that there's been a couple really interesting posts about journalism (which MS is when he's not busy being a novelist). It's a whole other kind of writing, that journalism thing, and kind of cool to get to read about it from the inside. Also, naturally, he reads good books and writes about them well!

On a more mundanely self-absorbed note, does anyone know how the "next blog" button (up at the top of the screen here) works? I never even noticed it before this week, when the statistics on this site started to say it was referring a lot of people through here. My first thought was that maybe the blog behind me in the queue had gone way up in traffic, but there is no "last blog" button, so I can't go there. Also, I've found that hitting "next blog" several times from the same blog leads you to different ones, so I think my theory is fundamentally false. But I don't have a better one--do you?



Amy said...

I think the "next blog button" is possibly just random. Although I HAVE noticed that it is possible to get stuck in a sort of infinite blog loop where, after hitting the button a few times, you end up going endlessly back and forth between two of the same blogs. Oh, mysterious internet.

August said...

Twitter is definitely its own thing. I find people either really, really get it, or really, really don't. There's not much grey area. (For the first year I had an account, I was part of the latter--then I discovered Tweetie for Mac, which actually made all the difference.)

I pretty much live online, and come from a social group that's heavily into things like message boards, and using instant messenger instead of telephones (why Skype when you have all that silence to fill?), and I think if you're that sort of person--neither good nor bad, really--then it's easier to see what Twitter is, and it's probably also going to be more useful to you.

I find the best way to think about it is as a cross between Facebook status updates and instant messenger. You're broadcasting to the big wide world, but you're also part of a conversation, that isn't necessarily happening in real time, and won't always have the same participants.

I find I get the most out of it when following people with big personalities, and letting my most outgoing self come through when I post (I hate the word 'tweet'), without turning it into a glorified stand-up comedy routine.

It's not for everybody, and that's cool. I only ever used Facebook, for example, to keep in touch with a handful of people who live in other cities and don't really communicate online any other way (and I hate, hate, hate, hate telephones), so most of that isn't for me. But I can say this in Twitter's favour: I now e-know more people in Canadian letters (in the sense that I have exchanged words and information with them, I recognize their names, and most importantly, they recognize mine) than I ever did participating in blogs, going to events, etc. I'm still an industry outsider, but I'm an involved outsider, and as a result, some of things I have to say are being heard by the people whom I would like to hear them. It's kind of empowering. (It's also, interestingly, now the primary source of traffic for my website.)

Anyway, the point being, is that it's not going to be fun for everyone, but those of whom it is fun for have to make a point of understanding that it's different from all the other ways we know how to 'be' online.

I hear you about the shortened urls, though. I have friends in the adult entertainment industry, and I've had to create a separate account for them so I don't click on the wrong thing at work. Though there are ways of using Twitter that expand the urls (like Brizzly).

Re: 'next blog' - I think it may direct you to a random blog, maybe entirely random, or maybe based on keywords or what's set up under 'interests' in your profile.

Rebecca Rosenblum said...


You are right that it isn't helpful to hang on to the way a different medium works in a new one, but I still write emails like letters, complete with salutation, hard return, pleasantry about the weather, hard return, content, hard return, complimentary closing! It's hard to change!

That said, I love most ways of communicating--emails and letters both, phone and Skype, Facebook and blog, even in person! So it really surprises me not to like Twitter. Maybe you are right that I need to put some effort in if I want to get something out of it. *You* are such a great Twitterer--I feel like your Twitter page is your real life in 140-character installments! You know what I loved? When you posted all your cooking ideas for a while--so inspiring! I love hearing what music you are listening to, too, though the TV stuff goes right over my head.

So I will try!

Next blog=mysterious!

August said...

I'm glad you're enjoying my posting. I think sometimes it's a little too much of my real life, though. In December I had a conversation with Bronwyn Kienapple via Twitter about her Manic Pixie Dreamgirl post and parallels I saw with an ex-girlfriend of mine that I'd been fighting with since, well, June '08. It turns out the ex in question kind of e-stalks me (much to my surprise), and I got a very, very angry series of emails about that conversation. Hostilities were resumed after a four month truce. :/

I hope you do start to enjoy it, but no pressure. Not everybody likes the same things, right? And not everybody has to. :)

Swiss Miss said...

Penelope Trunk is insane.

I also read her blog, but that's mostly because rubbernecking traffic accidents seems in such poor taste.

This is my favourite Trunkism of late:

"I'm pretty convinced that, after all my happiness research, the only thing that matters is being married. Married people are so much happier than non-marrried [sic] people that people should just shut up about career stuff and focus on getting married."

Brazen careerist, indeed.

Kerry said...

But I LOVE being married. It is one of the best parts of my life!

Also, I have NO FRIENDS in the adult entertainment industry. How uninteresting.

And I also really don't get twitter. Apparently it is addicting. I just think it's boring.

Rebecca Rosenblum said...

The thing that's deranged about PT is that she's always convinced she has THE answer--and that there's just one. The idea that marriage could be the path to happiness (or part of it) for *some people* (like Kerry) and not others is completely foreign to her. If she's gonna do it, dammit, it's the way to go.

Also, sigh, none of you know what Next Blog and yet SO MANY people come here via it. Bizarro!

August said...

Okay, I've never read Penelope Trunk's blog, but I'm watching her on TVO's public affairs show The Agenda right now, and I just... I don't even know. I'm just feeling rage and disgust. I just can't believe the things that are coming from her mouth. I don't know how you do it.

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