You're Talking a Lot, But You're Not Saying Anything

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How does commentary affect the world around us?

Two Months Gone, Not Forgotten

Wow! Can’t believe it’s been two months since I’ve managed to post here. In that time, I’ve moved to a new town, started a new job, and officially received my master’s degree (hurrah!), so you’ll excuse me for not posting frequently. I’d like to get back into the swing of things, though, and came across two interesting articles that might help me do it.

The first was Simon Dumenco’s Twitter lament, in which he decries the allegedly Twitter-inspired tendency to post, tweet, retweet, and generally (virally?) spread information without understanding it. In doing some tweeting for my new job, I can say that I’ve run across more than a few instances of folks tweeting and even retweeting an article without apparently reading beyond the title, dismissing the substance in favor of some style. There are “scientifically proven” magic phrases that elicit retweets, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a surprising amount of folks retweet based on headlines only without reviewing the actual linked content.

Is that bad, though? Dumenco seems to think so, theorizing that over-production of content means “we’re all living in some Bizarro universe where we’re constantly debating stuff that’s not actually up for debate” and that’s “all rewiring our brains in really weird, unexpected and often unfortunate ways.” It’s true that there’s so much more content than ever before–but there are also more people than ever before, and more ways for them to connect. So shouldn’t this make us smarter, not stupider? All of this community and commentary should give rise to a form of collective intelligence that wouldn’t be possible without online interaction. I don’t think mindless retweeting is a good thing, but it’s not 100% bad–and it doesn’t mean Twitter can’t be a tool for thought-provoking conversation.

Of course, it’s easier and more hilarious to just say that Simon Dumenco hates kittens, so maybe I’ll do that anyway.

The other topic I wanted to address briefly is (Twitter-based) geographic location services. It’s interesting that in a delocalized/globalized economy and world, some of our most immediate technological tools are being tweaked to tell others the most mundane information of all: where we are physically. What’s the implication of using broad technology for such specific, local purposes? Will technology, which once led commercialized agriculture and other large-scale efforts, suddenly be at the forefront of a charge to eat/breathe/think/do locally? I’m interested to see the outcome of using these technological tools on a local scale.

That’s all for now, folks, but I hope to be back a little sooner than last time!

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One Response

  1. Rick says:

    why isn’t “emerson” or “emerson college” on the list of phrases that guarantee a retweet? i think they need to redo the study.

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