December 31st, 2008

E-cologies & High Resolutions

Grooming one’s social ecologies is no small task — in the real or the virtual. At least the real is bounded by the unities — you can only see so many people at once — whereas the virtual, with its asynchronous multitudes and embarrassment of data, can easily swamp a surfer.

I became acutely attuned to the importance of different information/interactional ecologies recently while getting used to Twitter.* I don’t know what made me finally decide to enter another one of these little cyberworlds, but I succumbed back in October and I quickly — despite the somewhat odd mix of friends and acquaintances I found there — grew to appreciate the distinctive little conversational channel it was (a function, in part, of the exacting economy of a 140 character limit).

I started to get a sense of my ideal Twitter ecology when certain folks I was following would suddenly clog up my feed with a dozen or so “tweets” in a row. This was especially annoying when done via a third-party client, like blip.fm, which seem to encourage prolific posting. But individuals can easily violate social media etiquette on their own and succumb to what @emynd has aptly dubbed, “twit[ting] the bed.”

Bless his vlogging rapper heart, but @noreaga can occasionally get downright prolix. Even so, I’ve decided, as with @THE_REAL_SHAQ, that there are enough gems in the rough to keep following the guy. Take these two recent tweets by N.O.R.E., for e.g. —

My new years resalution( don’t know how 2 spell it) is 2 only do business with out any feelings

which was followed by

I will no longer have any feelings with this business. I will proceed as close 2 a white person as much as possible!!!!!!

As you can imagine, there are some tough decisions to make sometimes in order to make room for the hit-or-miss musings of N.O.R.E. and Shaquille. So please don’t take it personal if you start following me and I don’t follow you back. I’m minding my twitter ecology, you see. At the moment, I’m finding that following 60 or so people is producing a pretty good feed. You never know what’s gonna throw off the natural balance.

To be honest, I don’t really know why anyone who doesn’t know me, relatively “personally,” would be interested in the fairly banal if occasionally pithy things I might share on Twitter. But that’s the nature of the beast, I s’pose. I don’t mind making my twitterings public. I am, however, resisting integrating them into this blog.

Which brings me to the question of annual resolutions and some ecological changes here at w&w.

Cribbing a year-old note from /rupture, I’m declaring 2009 the year of

     FOCUS

     &

     DO IT FOR THE LOVE

Self-explanatory mantras, I know, but to explain the implications for this here blog: I’ve decided to put an end to the “linkthink” posts that have been appearing regularly here for the last year or so. I’m not giving up on linkthink, per se, since I conceive of blogging as having linkthink quite often at its core. But what I mean is that I’m stopping my practice — adopted earlier this year to compensate for blog-time lost with the arrival of Nico — of posting semi-daily linkdumps from my delicious account.

In a recent riff (well worth a read for other reasons), Nick Sylvester notes that “bloggers have two basic options — write original content or become a central link warehouse,” and while that’s something of a false dichotomy — indeed, I think of blogging somewhere in the middle — I definitely want to err on the side of the former (“original content,” whatever that means).

But the truth is, farming out blog posts from my delicious bookmarks has simply become too constraining on my actual tagging practice. I find delicious eminently useful, but if I’m thinking just a little too much about how to frame/excerpt something I stumble upon, the service begins to lose/change its value. Blogging my delicious notes has started to put too much pressure on them, so I’m moving all that activity back to delicious, which you’re perfectly welcome to continue following if you like. You can even subscribe!

The corollary to that change is that I’m resolved to post more frequently here in the year to come. I know that pledging such a thing is a little like signing a blog’s death warrant. Earnest promises to update blogs are like a sad subgenre of blogpost. But I’m for real. You’ll see.

* I can’t quite tell you why I’m on something like Twitter but not Facebook. I get a sense that Facebook’s status messages are pretty similar to Twitter, and I do appreciate that — literally — nearly everybody and their mom is on Facebook. But Facebook has long weirded me out, both because of the number of my own students I’d encounter there, blurring social-school lines I don’t always like to blur, and — perhaps more important — because of its radical and sometimes shady reshaping of privacy norms. I know that not being on Facebook makes me, in a certain sense, invisible — and blind. On the other hand, given its ubiquity, at this point it almost feels cool NOT to be on Facebook. I mean, I don’t have any tattoos or piercings either, so there you go. Still, I eventually joined MySpace for the p2p music networking, so it’s probably a matter of time before I cave.

11 Comments

  • 1. jace  |  December 31st, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    “Earnest promises to update blogs are like a sad subgenre of blogpost.” great observation. i’m planning on facebook suicide in 2009. its starting to freak me out.

  • 2. shane  |  December 31st, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    Happy New Year! I look forward to the new content. I’m torn about the linkthink posts, I thought they were great, but I found myself almost avoiding them because I got caught up in such tangents following them (links) all. Good or bad thing ? , I don’t know but some great gems there so thanks.

  • 3. Boima  |  January 1st, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    I have to say I’m loving your shared items from Google Reader. I usually drift in that direction as far as linkthink.

  • 4. wayneandwax  |  January 1st, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    Thanks, y’all. Always appreciate feedback.

    Boima reminds me to note that my Google Reader shares are always on the sidebar here (under “FeedThink”) or viewable (w/ comments!) here —
    http://www.google.com/reader/shared/06899829819733639677

    Also, I’ll be re-adding a delicious feed on the sidebar.

  • 5. giessel  |  January 1st, 2009 at 5:35 pm

  • 6. kevin  |  January 1st, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    re: Facebook and student-teacher interactions, big up Kanye because i just have two words: “Limited Profile.”

    re: Auto-tune Karaoke: YES! Holmes Wilson has used auto-tune at least a few times at his weekly radical karaoke night in Worcester. Of course, he also makes his own karaoke blends, beat-jacks, and videos so it should come as no surprise that he’d mess with the formula. :)

  • 7. Laurent  |  January 2nd, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    I follow you on twitter and while I dont know you personally as you said it’s the nature of the beast, a weird nature maybe but it also makes for some interesting ‘experiences’ I guess you could say. I noticed your tweets on e-cology a while back and it got me thinking, so thanks for that. Happy new year and good luck with the blog input this year.

    Lo

  • 8. Birdseed  |  January 3rd, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    I don’t know, both twitter and the (non-xposted) delicious feed are so unidirectional. I’m a bit uncomfortable with the whole “broadcasting random things into cyberspace” aspects of blogging as it is, a lot of the most interesting stuff turns up in conversations and comment sets I think.

    It all reminds me of that old communist era Czechoslovakian joke:

    The president of Czechoslovakia is showing off his office to a visiting foreign dignitary. “This red phone is for getting in touch with the Hungarians, this green one for the Romanians and this one for the Poles.”

    “And how do you get in touch with Moscow, comrade president?”

    “Oh, I just use these headphones here.”

  • 9. wayneandwax  |  January 3rd, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    Good points, Birdseed, though I do think that Twitter is more conversational than you give it credit.

    I hear you about the “broadcast” quality of such things, though on the other hand, all of these conversations can become interlinked (hyperlinked) eventually, which isn’t quite the same as a comment thread but is something (and is part of the nicely egalitarian quality of links). The blogosphere itself, despite being made up of individual broadcasts (some w/ comments, some w/out), is one big conversation, if one wants to play that way.

    I really wish that Google Reader provided more opportunity for conversation around the items people share — like a history of comments or some sort of back/side-channel for further discussion.

    Delicious is primarily how I bookmark things, so I’d rather not think of it as a broadcast medium (which is why I’ve stopped posting such things here), but I’m fine with — indeed, happy about — its networked dimensions.

  • 10. wayneandwax  |  January 5th, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    For Birdseed, this may suggest some promise for Twitter becoming even more “conversational” — i.e., integrated into other webby discussions — than it currently is. (h/t lo-la)

  • 11. wayneandwax  |  January 6th, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    Facebook suicide now for the sake of the open net! Sez Doc Searls

    “Much of the activity that used to happen out in the wild unfettered Net, over email, open (XMPP-based) IM and blog posts is now happening inside the Facebook silo. It is AOL 2.0.”

Wayne&Wax

I'm a techno-musicologist, internet annotator, imagined community organizer.

I left my <3 in the digital global, but I reside in Cambridge, MA, where I'm from.

I represent like that.

wayne at wayneandwax dot com

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