For a "oh, that's where they are now! no surprise there" moment for the Old Hats in the house, check out this news update: The Weekly Standard's Reliable Sources No further comment is needed, I think. Though Lord knows it's tempting.
So the first big news out of SXSW Interactive this year seems to be that Twitter has hit some sort of adoption tipping point: In Ross Mayfield's phrase, it's "tipped the tuna." Twitter is a presence publisher: it asks you "what are you doing now?" and you tell it. It, in turn, tells your friends, or the whole world, if you make your posts public. Your friends can receive your Twitter posts via IM, SMS, web, or my preferred method, the Mac-only Twitterific app. When I've been asked to describe Twitter, I call it "Dodgeball for people who don't go out." (And the fact that I can use that description tells you something about the tech-nerd quotient of the people asking the question.) Dodgeball is all about the ephemeral moment: we're here now, come join us. Twitter is a bit more stateful: it could be Dodgeball-esque, but the people on my friends list use mostly for less pressing things -- for updates on their moods, to describe a sky, and even for advice and a sort of asynchronous group chat. However, Twitter is also apparently very useful as a Dodgeball-type app at a conference like SXSW, even though there is a Dodgeball Austin, and I wonder in fact if the long lagtime as Dodgeball has gotten integrated into Google will end up working against it: I'm not sure why it left the space for Twitter to move into. I tried getting Twitter on my phone, on the Dodgeball model, and had to turn it off: it was making me crazy. I need to know that Clive is at his local New York bar right now: I do not need to be interrupted on the street to know that Emily in LA is packing for a trip. (Sorry, honey.) Having Twitter on my desktop makes a lot more sense -- it provides a light-weight, low-cost way to check in with the world outside my workspace. Liz Lawley, a bigger Twitter fan than I am, says:
What Twitter does, in a simple and brilliant way, is to merge a number of interesting trends in social software usage--personal blogging, lightweight presence indicators, and IM status messages--into a fascinating blend of ephemerality and permanence, public and private.I'm not sure about either brilliant or fascinating there, myself, but I know this much: despite all the other presence indicators available to me, I haven't turned it off yet. For the rest, I'll have to see. Note: I'm michelet on Twitter if you're interested, or want to add me as a friend. I'm not a hugely active poster, as you might have guessed from the above, but reading my previous "twitters" did remind me I still haven't posted here about The Coast of Utopia. Maybe when I start procrastinating tomorrow, which I've taken off to finish my IA Summit talk...
It's living in the future early-00's stylee to push 'pause' on your TiVo, fire up iChat on your wireless laptop, and tell your oldest friend that her most famous relation is tonight's guest on the Colbert Report. By this point, that's almost passé. But it's living in the future mid-decade-wise to see Colbert on the show issue a "White Christmas" Beatles/Christmas song mashup challenge to his audience, announce that the results will be posted to the Internet, and say "Dangermouse, I know you're watching." And this the same day as I read the New York Times coverage of Conan O'Brien's Horny Manatee site:
“We couldn’t have done this two years ago, three years ago,” Mr. O’Brien said. “It’s sort of this weird comedy dialogue with the audience.”This sort of user-generated content feedback loop with mainstream media is the sort of thing we nerds have been evangelizing for since, oh, a lot longer than two years ago. Not just evangelizing, trying to sell the idea and the tools to make it happen to major networks and other content providers, if you're a digital media design consultant of some sort: I don't want to even think about how many times I've cited Dangermouse myself in meetings. So it's weird and delightful to see everything you predicted start to come true, even if it's happening in ways you didn't predict. Though, actually, I think this is the way it had to happen. Both of my examples are comedy shows -- by their nature anarchic, irreverent, and bricolage-friendly -- with strong central performers who can push through something they want to do. Those are much more likely sites for innovation than corporate headquarters, and because it's a Colbert project, or a Conan one, if it fails, it gives their bosses some space and deniability. Innovation from below rather than above; really, who could have seen that one coming? But still, Stephen -- if you want to talk about some awesome ideas about the future of media, well, you know where to find me.
I remember, back in the mid-90s, showing a grad school friend how to use Netscape. When she clicked on a link and the screen changed, she nearly jumped out of her seat in shock. Nice to know not that much has changed in
academia higher education in the humanities. (Change as per that extremely academic virus-lover Ian.)
Via Crooked Timber, I found this choice quote from a Michael Bérubé essay in Inside Higher Education. Bérubé was on the MLA committee that just recommended major changes in the tenure process, and his essay addresses some of the forces that led them to suggest large changes.
About the digital age, most doctoral departments are largely clueless: 40.8 percent report no experience evaluating journal articles in electronic format, and almost two-thirds (65.7 percent) report no experience evaluating monographs in electronic format. This despite the fact that the journal Postmodern Culture, which exists only in electronic form, has just celebrated its 15th birthday. Online journals have been around for some time now, and online scholarship is of the same quality as print media, but referees’ and tenure committees’ expectations for the medium have lagged far behind the developments in the digital scholarly world. As Sean Latham, one of the members of the Task Force, said at the 2005 MLA convention in Washington, “If we read something through Project Muse, are we supposed to feel better because somewhere there is a print copy?” For too many scholars, the answer is yes...Criticism, at its best, ought to be an engagement with the critic's own culture as well as with the work being discussed. For digital scholarship to be ignored by tenure committees, and therefore actively discouraged to the junior faculty hoping to impress them, is to cut off a major developing form of engaging with modern culture from the ongoing discussion among literature departments. It's those departments, not the intarweb, that will lose out on this one. (In other fun news, Bérubé notes that when you do the math, 34 of every 100 Ph.D.s in the MLA's member fields gets tenure. Do you feel lucky, punk?)