I Tweet, Therefore I Am…Seriously?

The New York Times published “I Tweet, Therefore I Am” today. It is too bad because I though we were past the days of mainstream media feeling to need to publish something, anything about Twitter.

The fun of Twitter and, I suspect, its draw for millions of people, is its infinite potential for connection, as well as its opportunity for self-expression. I enjoy those things myself. But when every thought is externalized, what becomes of insight? When we reflexively post each feeling, what becomes of reflection? When friends become fans, what happens to intimacy?

If Twitter causes you to externalize every thought and post every feeling you should step back and take a deep breath. For your followers’ sake, put down the tweet button.

On a separate note, we need to stop absolving responsibility by forming broad claims as questions. If you are going to bring those questions up attempt to answer them. Otherwise you are preying on readers who do not know any better.

Medieval Multitasking and Focus

A few weeks ago Religion Dispatches published an article about medieval manuscripts and multitasking. The point is that for centuries our minds have referenced texts on multiple levels; the internet did not inherently create this distraction. There is also this gem from a David Brooks column:

The Internet-versus-books debate is conducted on the supposition that the medium is the message. But sometimes the medium is just the medium. What matters is the way people think about themselves while engaged in the two activities.

Alex Byers on journalists and programming

Alex Byers makes an interesting case for journalists not learning programming skills:

Writers will produce the best written word, photographers will snap the best pictures, and programmers will build the best apps. That’s not going to change, so don’t give up being awesome at something so you can be insufficient at a lot of things.

Perhaps, but this presumes a disconnect between writing and knowing the code that drives your platform of choice. I would argue that knowing the fundamentals of development allows you to fine tune your writing.

The best writer is one that hones the craft and pushes a medium’s boundaries. If you know the basics of code you’ll be best able to set yourself apart as a writer who does something exceptional with a platform.

Slow reading and poor content design

The Guardian published an article a few days ago discussing the concerns of some academics over modern reading habits. It centers around the idea that, for some, reading online is an inherently shallower process that leaves a person less educated than reading traditional print texts.

This misplaced concern does not account for the animated ads, commercial content, and constantly growing hodgepodge of buttons surrounding standard content online. Put this same interface garbage on a printed page and I would not be able to focus on a text either.

For a traditional media outlet to decry the perils of reading online it ought to at least place blame in the right space. The Guardian, and other media outlets, that plaster ads and irrelevant content around their articles are not innocent bystanders to this loss of attention span.

Why Eric Johnson is leaving ScienceBlogs

This wasn’t an easy decision but I fear it’s the only one I could have made. Seed Media Group’s decision to sell space on this network for a Pepsi infomercial was a slap in the face to everything I had believed in and worked so hard to attain. I wanted to be here because there was no better place to communicate science. The reputation that ScienceBlogs had built meant that you could trust the veracity and the integrity of those who appeared on the network. It was this reputation that Pepsi wanted to buy and which Seed was only too happy to sell them.

Eric Johnson explains his rationale for leaving ScienceBlogs. After the blowup last week over the Pepsi Co. deal Seed Media made it is no surprise. This is what happens when you attempt to use individual reputations to legitimate corporate public relations.

Mark Pesce at Webstock

http://www.r2.co.nz/clientbin/player-licensed-viral.swf

Mark Pesce’s blog the human network is a must read and he just published the full video of his talk at Webstock. The transcript was posted back in February but the video is well worth watching.

Here are some scattered annotations on what Pesce discusses:

  • The arrival of the web as appliance (14:00)
  • The depth of a universally connected world is the individual (~18:00)
  • Once meaning is exposed it can be manipulated (20:00)
  • Books are standing on a threshold (23:30)
  • Personal health and medication management (or, the concept of a device as an interface to ourselves) (28:00)

Link wrap-up for #J361

A collection of links and pointers to what I talked about with Suzi Steffen’s Reporting One class last Thursday.

WordPress

I mentioned a couple of things that may come in handy, including all the support pages for WordPress.com. Those are a great place to find out how specific features work and can help you get going again if you’re stuck on something.

There’s also a handy series of How-To videos at WordPress.tv. These cover everything from the basics to more advanced editing options. There are also a series of videos on the WordPress.tv homepage if you’re interested in watching talks given at WordCamps around the world.

After the Deadline

Great spell, style, and grammar checker that is baked into all WordPress.com blogs. You can also find extensions for Firefox, Google Chrome, and OpenOffice on ATD’s download page.

Podcast recommendations

I mentioned a couple of podcasts and wanted to add some specific recommendations for those interested.

5by5 is a studio run by Dan Benjamin that produces a great series of technology and web-focused podcasts. Many of the guests are not your typical developers as well. Some are in the editing, design, or usability fields as well. The Pipeline is particularly good and the show with Liz Danzico may be interesting to those wanting to improve their writing or find out a bit how professional editors work.

I also highly recommend anything from Merlin Mann. I mentioned his Time & Attention talk in class and that’s really worth watching if you’re wondering the forces that come into play when envisioning how to get people consuming your content.

Danah Boyd is also someone worth following if you’re interested in how information flows around the web. She gave a talk at the Web 2.0 Conference that is about 20 minutes long and well worth listening to.

There was a lot more mentioned too so if you have any questions just shoot me an email. It’s andrewspittle at automattic.com.