Accept no substitutes

Twrestling with Twitter

For me, twitter has many good uses: trusted news referrals, light touches with friends, hyperlocal and international doings, wit in the hands of the better tweeple and with DMs a mutual opt-in private message sharing service. Twitter always returns more value for time spent for me than email.

The Twitter Trap - NYTimes by James Joyce

The Twitter Trap - NYTimes by James Joyce

Nonetheless, Bill Keller writing in the NYTimes Magazine can’t wait to rehearse his parent’s anxiety about something that he doesn’t do or understand as soon as he sees his teenage daughter behaving like a teenage daughter. “The Twitter Trap” quickly becomes a Parent Trap as Keller ratchets up the Moral Panic in a New York Times style guide sort of way.

Before Keller’s article even saw Sunday distribution, Nick Bilton writing on the New York Times Bits blog had out a responce (that I was referred to by Twitter) “This is Your Brain on Twitter”. Nick hits the points without getting at the underlying Moral Panic issue. He does notice that Twitter is an activity stream of highly mixed activities and mixed values. The point is the stream — that’s way it’s a good alternative to how some use email for some functions and activities.

Cathy Davidson of Duke and of HASTAC essays from the thesis of her forthcoming (in August from Viking) “Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn” in her response to Keller called “It’s not the technology, stupid”. She rightly sees that the problem is less tech and more psych. She sees the irony of reading something like: “My own anxiety,” Keller writes, “is less about the cerebrum than about the soul.” as a rational defense of his position. It’s a bright red flag shouting “Moral Panic!” (more so than “tech is bad” I’d say).

Note that #noemail isn’t about saving my soul from the satanic email and delivering it instead to Twitter, Facebook, etc, but to divest in a crappy technology and reinvesting in a number of better more efficient and effective technologies. I expect to consolidate my investments over time, dropping some and adding others, as I better understand and observe how you and I sort them out.

1 Comment

  1. Paul

    My new colleague, Zeynep Tufekci, has a wonderful response to Keller on her Technosociology blog “Why Twitter’s Oral Culture Irritates Bill Keller (and why this is an important issue)”

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