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February 21, 2009


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stumptown girl

This is the first time that I've encountered such pessimism about Twitter, and I wonder if you're placing your own judgments upon it without first letting the ways that Twitter is used by people tell you something.

What I love about Twitter is that it's completely up to the user what to do with 140 characters. 140 characters has nothing to do with lack of content. It's all about snips of ideas, events, goings-on. It's a simple way to connect to diverse forms of information, and an easy motion to listen in on dialogue about topics as diverse as bird flu, sack gardening, disaster awareness, tech stuff, and Britney Spears. It is not autistic, and it is certainly not devoid of content. It is mobile content. Connectivity, invitation, and collaboration.

I invite you, with an open mind, to go back to Twitter, or search.twitter.com, and see what you find. Forget about what you've heard about it and actually investigate it for yourself and in the context of your interests. If it still makes you feel threatened or disappointed, well so be it.


Aneil Mishra


I totally agree with you. I'm willing to put up with some of the limits of Facebook for the opportunity to connect with new people I'd like to know (like you!). I tried Twitter, and gave up after a few days. It's the opposite of Rich Communication/Media, and it IMHO, only contributes to the Dumbest Generation's (Bauerlein) stupidity. 140 characters may or may not encourage some creativity in brevity, but I'll pass. If I want to know what you're up to, I'll FB you, or better yet, call you up once in a while. I don't need to know what you're doing or thinking every 140 characters or every few minutes. If I did, that would mean you're my young child, and I'm done with raising young children (at 11 and 14, they're no longer young).



Hi Jodi!

fantastic post... and very timely, from my point of view. Yesterday, after having been told by many people how fantastic Twitter is, I signed up to it. I must admit I am finding it difficult to get my head around its supposed 'value', whereas I find FB much more interesting. And blogging seems like a different kettle of kilobytes altogether too... So I'm currently in twitter-limbo, wondering whether to persevere (and aware of how its a potentially huge time-suck) or to close it down and use my precious time blogging, FB-'ing or even - gosh - trying to finish my book!

Anyway, thanks for another great post. I love your blog!


Chris L

I have little interest in using Twitter, but I find it difficult to dismiss as utterly useless (or dangerous!) as the author claims. Just because the bulk of the content is garbage doesn't mean that it can't be a useful tool. All media (especially the 'democratic' kind) suffers from a surplus of inane content.

Actually, what struck me most about that article was the off-the-cuff slurs against the Japanese. That the final line (its own paragraph!) compares twitter users to giggling Japanese school girls, as if they are any worse than other school children, was especially offputting. Why is that necessary?


Thanks, folks, for the comments.

I particularly like Aneil's point about monitoring and infantilization; the issue with Twitter isn't just 140 characters, but the combination of that and constant monitoring/updating.

I tried Twitter a bunch in the fall and am still on it; but I don't think it lives up to the hype. Why Twitter if there's facebook?

Yujiro Tsuneno

Here's an example.

As a child, that is, when the hard work of self-infantilization was not necessary, I was an activist. The movement failed. The cause was lost.

I wanted to know why we failed, so instead of keeping on fighting blindly, I quit and started to do something else, learning.

But after about a decade or so, it got boring. I heard twittering was fun. So I quit learning and started to twitt.

As a consequence, year 2009 has been like this so far. I participated in a few actual rallies. I travelled around and met several anarchists in person. Learning made me a Stalinist, so we disagreed on most issues, but it was fun to engage in mutual criticism on the ground, face to face. Also, I helped translate an open letter addressed to a certain novelist who was off to perform some ideological function for the State of Israel, although I never agreed with the content of the letter and indeed believed the letter itself was serving a very similar function in the context of my country, where an equivalent of Hitler is still in power and doing things that a Hitler normally does. But I did what I did anyway, because I typed, on twitter, I'd translate it.

Now, due in part to what I'd learned from Zizek and _Zizek's Politics_, I know everything in the previous paragraph isn't something to brag about. But in reference to the particular piece you cite this time, I wanted to tell you I wouldn't have done any of them had I not created a twitter account.

So I'm getting more and more like what I was as a child. Self-infantilization. That's exactly what twittering made possible for me.

You won't know anything about twitter just by observing twitter logs. You also need to find out what people were and are doing in real life before and after they signed up at twitter (You wouldn't understand anything about capitalism just by staring at the stock price board, would you?). If you do that, the next homework for you is to do the same with academic journals, and what people who write there are doing in real life.

By the way, some anarchists are doing something in Kyoto at this very moment:

Jodi, you and I are Stalinists, so they are our enemies. But I personally assure you they deserve respect. Perhaps they would be offended if Stalinists expressed respect for them. Let's do it.

I wouldn't spare you the details. The same old story. Neoliberalism and the university. Tenured academics are suffering an inch. Janitors, secretaries, security staff, library workers. They are suffering a lot. And the organizers belong to the latter.


Why Twitter if there's facebook?

That's why I don't get Twitter backlash. There's nothing new about it; how can it portend, well, anything of interest? It's just an "away message," something which has been around since what, 1995? If anything, the interesting thing about Twitter is that so many people have strong feelings about such a meaningless thing. I really doubt it's making anyone stupider, but maybe we were all as stupid as we feared to begin with?

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