Intrepid Girl Reporter

Saturday, 11/14: the widening gyre
November 14, 2009, 12:27 pm
Filed under: cultural theorizing, poetry

A few thoughts and observations on the Internets and other forms of communication.

1. I came pretty late to the Twitter party, and I use it somewhat infrequently because (fortunately for my productivity) DCPS blocks pretty much every web site available. So I’m not exactly qualified to opine on its usefulness and popularity, but I’m going to do it anyway.

I saw a friend’s tweet today that re-tweeted a tweet (did I really just write that sentence?) from McSweeneys magazine, under the topic #bleakraplyrics. Obviously, most of these are hilarious (“Don’t push me ’cause I’m close to the edge and I am REALLY afraid of heights”). Clicking on the hashtag, however, allows the viewer – as I’m sure most Twitter users already know – to see other people who have contributed to this fun little parlor game, some quite cleverly (“What’s my mother f#*king name? Sorry, but these psychoanalytic methods aren’t helping retrieve any of my memories”).

This is the true genius of Twitter: fostering collective brainstorming. The networks are loose enough that ideas travel fast; all you need to see is one person on your friends list contributing to a topic in order to learn about it, after which you can pass it on to everyone in your list, et al. The character limit constraint prevents any one person from dominating the conversation and makes it easy to sift through all the ideas. And simply by clicking on the topic, you have a centralized place to look at everyone’s contributions.

I googled twitter + collective + brainstorming and no one else appeared to have written on this, so I feel okay making such an obvious observation.


2. As any regular readers of Wikipedia will surely have noticed (ahem), fake facts abound, often slid in next to real facts so that a casual glance might not reveal them. Usually, it’s pretty easy to pick these out, given their nature.

When truth proves as strange as fiction, however, it’s more difficult. Earlier I was reading about REM and then about Michael Stipe, who, as most people should remember, came out of the closet to no one’s surprise a few years ago. As I read, I came across the following passage (emphasis mine):

Stipe described himself as a “queer artist” in Time Magazine in 2001 and revealed that he had been in a relationship with “an amazing man” for three years at that point.[10] Stipe was also featured on the cover of BUTT Magazine in 2003.

This presents a conundrum. “Butt Magazine” is exactly the sort of name that someone with a juvenile sense of humor towards gay people might make up. On the other hand, porn is weird, and there are no names that I would really posit as off-limits. I couldn’t google “Butt Magazine” at work for fairly obvious reasons, so I had to wait until I got home to solve this mystery.

I should have more faith in the power of Wiki.



3. I was an English major who studied Yeats in multiple classes with several professors who were brilliant at explicating meaning in an accessible manner. Nonetheless, I was never able to get my head around the image of “the center cannot hold.” Currently, I am reading Jeff Chang’s Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation, and in a single inadvertent sentence, he applied a similar metaphor that made that line abundantly clear to me. That’s right, I didn’t get Yeats until I read a book about rap. Go on and judge me.


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I judge not you, but a national English curriculum that continues to think it can ignore hip-hop.

Comment by Brendan

I want to read Jeff Chang’s book.

Comment by Nikki

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