Saturday, March 28, 2009

Tweet it!

Things that occur online are kind of a microcosm for globalization in general. It's wonderful that the internet connects us so readily to people from across the world - I've had chat sessions with friends in South Africa, the UK, Cambodia, Hong Kong, etc.. But to have that good you also have to take the bad - the viruses that can shut down computers worldwide in seconds, for example.

We've all discussed with great amusement and perhaps a bit of confusion the Japanese phenomenon of texted novels from cellphones, which went from quirky sub-genre to mainstream. And now we have news that Nigerian novelist Ben Okri is releasing new poetry via Twitter:
"Forms follows adversity – we live in uncertain times. I think we need a new kind of writing that responds to the anxiety of our age and yet has brevity," he said. "My feeling is that these times are perfect for short, lucid forms. We need to get more across in fewer words. The Twitter poem tries to respond to this and the feeling of freedom."

Whenever someone embraces something online as a resource that can free us from some shackles, I have to throw up a flag. People, the internet is not public space. Twitter is corporate space that is within a company's control. Sometimes sites like Twitter give the user this false feeling of freedom - I'm going around the publisher and bringing my readers the work directly - but that's not really the case, because legally, Twitter could probably shut you down as easily as any old-fashioned book publisher could refuse to print books.

Go forth and use Twitter, by all means, but I'm not signing on to this venue as offering a truly new model. It's just faster - I'll give it that. Quite frankly, its brevity can also be annoying.

(Thanks to MobyLives for the initial link.)

I wanted to also post this F-Minus cartoon from today's paper, which I think we can all appreciate. Hilarious!


F Minus

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