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. —
which was followed by
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
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.