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    The dagbuzz for 3/17/09: (Ashton, Oprah and Generation Twitter)


    Big news today. Ashton Kutcher just attracted his one millionth follower on the microblogging service Twitter, a milestone which has generated a fair amount of fanfare, but it's only the beginning as cult leader Oprah is going to feature Twitter on her talk show today and send her first tweet over the air.

    Oh, how wonderful.

    Excuse me if I don't join in the celebration - if I'm not all, ahem, atwitter with the news - but I have very mixed feelings here.

    About a year ago, I signed up for Twitter - It's part of the responsiblities of my day job to keep abreadst of new emerging techonlogies on the Internets, and I had to see what all the developing hype was about.

    When I joined, no one I knew well was on Twitter so I ended up basically starting a zombie account, never using the service again. As time went on, I would get the occasional follower as the service's popularity spread and friends found my name, but that's been about the extent of my experience with Twitter.

    Pretty uneventful. And yet for some reason, Twitter made me mad. Really mad. I found myself almost irrationally rooting for its failure.

    Now I am obviously no Luddite and as you can tell from the mere fact I am video blogging, I am not immune to the allure of banal self-expression and interactive communication, I enjoy reading status updates from my friends on Facebook - which at its core is all Twitter really is - and even occasionally provide my own update, but somehow Twitter crossed a line that offended my delicate sensibilities.

    Was it the 140 character limit? Was it the fact one had followers on Twitter, not friends? Was it the fact that the vast majority of tweets were about what people were eating for breakfast or some other such trivial nonsense? Or was it the fact that Twitter's raison d'etre was that it encouraged people to delude themselves into thinking that what they were thinking mattered?

    I realized quickly that what infuriated me the most about Twitter is how beautifully it fits with our time. What a perfect metaphor for our society. Our unquenchable thirst for fame and recognition, our almost pathological need to reveal private, mostly unimportant details of our lives to anyone who will listen, not to mention our rapidly dwindling attention span and deteriorating communication skills.

    Twitter is inevitable. Few people bother with books anymore. Newspapers are an endangered species. The letter is a lost art. Real-life contact is an inconvenience. Communities and neighborhoods where we physically look out for one another are artifacts of a distant past.

    It's time to face it.  Whether I use the service or not, I am still a twit who tweets. We are all Generation Twitter. So why not follow Ashton and Oprah and twit boldly into our glorious 21st century. Resistance is futile. I have seen the future, and it has 140 characters or fewer ....

    (Video Blog Transcript)



    Just to reinforce my comment about delivery mechanisms... information will continue to flow ever faster.

    Now we can debate whether the flow and velocity of information is a good thing, but He-Who-Twits is a distraction from the real development.

    I have a computer programmer friend who argues that the mechanisms have ben in place all along But it appears we are in for some new uses and developments now that it is so f-ing popular.

    I too reject the charge of Luddism.

    Technology is as good as what it can accomplish. I read, I email, I search, I blog, I ipod, I share photos, I Skype and I Slingbox halfway around the world. All useful, empowering things. Thank you, computer gods.

    But I see the cell phone (and its eviler twin, the Blackberry) as a self-implanted RFID device -- the only advantage being that you can deliberately misplace it. So no, I won't be joining the Twit Generation.

    I was alerted to dagblog by my close personal friend DF and he commissioned me to write here, in so many words. From what I understand its an extension of TPM?

    Maybe just a tip, don't take this personally. But as some simple journalistic advice for dagblog and hoping to perpetuate intellectual merit, and good stories, don't write about Ashton kutcher,  twitter, and Operah.


    Semper Fiscalis!

    Thanks for coming by jaisizzle. Call it a TPM spinoff. 4 of 6 writers used to contribute at TPM cafe. Some of us still do.

    As for confining our blogging to matters of profound intellectual importance, dagblog does not confine anyone's blogging. We try to find intelligent, witty writers with broad interests, strong opinions, and a taste for snark and let them to write about what's on their minds, be it The Bachelor or international trade agreements in Madagascar.

    DF has spoken highly of you, so I hope that you'll join us in speaking your own mind. But if our stories and discussion don't interest you, well, there are other blogs out there.

    Duly noted.


    Wit, yes. Manners, no.

    I am sensing a trend here...

    come over to FB and have a good cry on my wall.


    I am a partial Luddite. A Lud, if you will.

    Technology is cool if it is useful. But I like my books to have pages made of paper, I like my words to be spelled out--as in OH MY GOD--I like complete sentences with proper punctuation, and I enjoy well-reasoned and well-expressed thoughts that exceed Twitter's maximum character requirement. I understand that language is in a constant state of evolution. But it would appear that we are currently evolving in the diretion of pidgen. And that sux.


    Nobody gets my jokes.

    I got it, just lacked a good way to call it out.

    I should have gone with


    I think you've got it, Muerte.  The Twitter phenomenon has nothing to do with technology and everything to do with culture.

    Here's a brief story: When MySpace started blowing up, a good friend of mine expressed to me that he didn't understand why it was so popular.  Now, he's very tech savvy.  So, to him it didn't make sense that anyone would care about what MySpace was doing.  It was a web site that seemed to place stricit limitations on what you could do with it.  Why, he wondered, would someone want what basically amounted to a crippled web page without its own domain that you didn't and couldn't own?

    With MySpace, I could see exactly why it was so popular.  The web is a collection of technologies with an impressive and flexible feature set.  However, if you're not aware of the breadth of these technologies and conversant in the lingua franca, then you might as well go down to the hardware store and grab a can of spray paint, find yourself a nice blank wall and get busy blogging.  Or put up yet another half-hearted, under-construction page at GeoCities or AngelFire.

    MySpace made the personal web page dead simple.  Many other entities, ISPs and web portals being the primary perpetrators, had tried to offer this to a seemingly tepid public.  MySpace took off because it lets people do what they want to do: Have a personal web page that links to all of their friend's personal web pages so that they can exchange comments and pictures and such.  The same can be said of Facebook, which, for a while, was the educated netizen's MySpace.  I think that there's also another factor here, which is that MySpace was a new brand that made itself synonymous with the personal web page at a crucial moment in the expansion of accessibility to the Internet.

    Regardless, MySpace was a technological fait accompli.  So is Twitter.  They both are better explained culturally rather than technologically.  It is precisely the cultural explanation and its implications that leave such a bad taste in my mouth and, apparently, yours as well.

    Excellent analysis, DF, both here and on Orlando's blog. Much better than mine, which basically amounted to: "I don't like the whole idea."

    You're analysis is better than mine, which basically amounts to, "I do not like them on a train, I do not like them on a plane."

    Dr. Seuss is my sherpa.

    I don't like the whole idea.

    Hey, after all this time, you think you can just barge back in and steal people's catchphrases? I don't like that idea either.

    How the hell have you been?

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