on publishing words

technology has changed the way we use words…

if we restrict a quick analysis to the major modes of communication used now (we could include ancient writing, but will not at the moment), we could make some brief observations about the different kinds…

  • journals, encyclopedias and textbooks – characterised by their scholarship, which (lest we forget) is basically interaction with the thought of others.
  • published book (with proper publisher) – a sustained statement (or argument or story), which was likely researched, drafted, revised etc.
  • magazine article (decently respected mag) – a shortened version of a larger argument or conversation – again, research and refinement, etc.
  • newspaper article – an even more condensed piece, yet still some research and refinement needed.
  • website or professional blog – considered statements for whatever purpose – the more refinement the better, etc.
  • personal blog – more off-the-cuff thoughts – “research” = (often) googling
  • Facebook status update – 99.3% of the time, time-wasting, boredom-prolonging nonsense (i.e. i had “this” for dinner, etc.)
  • twitter updates – humanity has gone too far :)  nobody needs to know what you are up to that often

9 thoughts on “on publishing words”

  1. Don’t give up on Twitter, Dale.

    I have been amazed just how effective it is for keeping up with things. Wouldn’t have tried it but Peter Griffin from the Science Media Centre recommended I try – and I was pleasantly surprised.

    I guess it’s what you make of it.

  2. Cheers Ken,
    The kind of Twitter usage you refer to is essentially no different to a RSS feed or email subscription… I’ve little/no concern there. My remark refers more to the incessant “I just had a cheeseburger” or “on my way home from work” type of Twitter-ing…

  3. I think it started off as a cheeseburger information source. But it ends up being used quite differently.

    I am finding it is a hell of a lot more immediate than RSS feeds and emails. For example, I was aware almost on a minute by minute basis of the 2 failed attempts and final successful attempt to launch Discovery. I get very immediate information on the treat of the California fires to the JPL and Mt Wilson observatory. I’m following one of the drivers of a mars rover. Just got a note about India’s plans for sending probes to Mars.

    It’s amazing who is putting up short informative notes on twitter.

    Of course – you can follow someone like Stephen Fry, hear about all his restaurant meals (and perhaps get some great Restaurant recommendations in New York and London.

    Like everything – its what you make of it. Currently I am finding it a lot more useful than say Facebook.

  4. I unhesitatingly agree with you that “its what you make of it”, etc. It’s just that a LOT of people (though of course, never all) are making Twitter into a “look at me, think about me, etc.” device…

    …though, I guess a bit like a blog, maybe? ;)

  5. Hey Dale, I don’t like twitter either. But I don’t know if people are being as rampantly trivial as you say. I think people say a lot of funny sort of jokey things and share the mildly extraordinary from each day and that these things are either informing or entertaining.
    Of course Twitter has the potential to inflate the pompous and narcissistic, but its potential for information sharing is pretty impressive. Consider having your favourite scholars updating thoughts on their latest reading, your favourite bands tweeting about a charity gig or working on an upcoming album.
    Its too easy to a say that a LOT of people are using twitter to say “look at me, think about me, etc.” I’d be scared of saying that twitter is primarily a vent of thought for people with an overwhelming sense of self, cos then I’d be forced to judge such a huge amount of people based on an internet site they use.

  6. Just did a bit of Facebook research. Looked at the updates I received in the past 24hrs.
    Most of these were people saying what they were up to, and quite a few, in equal parts, were stating dedications, quotes, feelings or opinions, a few were asking for help or sharing links and information.

    I found quite a few of people’s updates were in a subtle way saying “I’m struggling with this” whether it be illness or work or school related, which was interesting.

    I was surprised by how many were giving dedications and quotes to ponder or be inspired by.

    I’m not yet as convinced as you, Dale, that most people are are just plugging “boredom-prolonging nonsense” but there’s definitely room for that interpretation.

  7. Excellent comments, Laban. My comments in the original post about both Facebook and Twitter were very much tongue-in-cheek, though accurate for a good deal of activity on those sites. it’s definitely not a wholesale rejection of those sites :)

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