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The media hype continues:

Will it go mainstream? Almost certainly, yes. …This is the sort of service that could go ballistic in a recession.

Perhaps.twitter_logo_s

I’ve posted a few tweets, and even had a reply from a friend who started to follow. I’ve also been trying out applications for easily reading and writing tweets. I’ve tried desktop app Twirl, which does the job but requires Adobe Air and is perhaps a little bulky for my needs.

Better is TwitterFox – a small plugin for Forefox that sits in the bottom bar of the browser and brings up new tweets at intervals of your choice.

I’ve set it to 30 minutes. A distraction from what I was otherwise doing every 30 minutes. Is this just more noise to take my attention away from being productive? Clearly if Twitter is to work, we need to find ways to ensure that it serves us rather than visa versa.

More twitter based activity: I set up facebook to update my status with my tweets, providing a potentially wider audience, and found the cogs were beginning to turn today when a friend at church asked about ‘Forum for Change’ – something I had tweeted (twittered?) about.

So far:

I follow – 8

Follow me  – 4

Verdict in progress: more interesting than I thought, a little worried about the distraction.

Welcome to the second instalment of my exploration into Twitter. twitter_logo_s

First up, I log onto to the website http://www.twitter.com and get an account.

This is as easy as any online sign up could be. What’s more, since Twitter is still quite young I get to use my actual name as a user name – geoffstevenson. That is a bonus. Good so far.

I also rather enjoy the site aesthetics – you can choose a design for your feed home page and they’re all pretty easy on the eye. I add my own picture.

I’m now a Twitter user and I’m offered some “well known” Twitter feeds to follow to start me off. I choose the no. 10 Downing Street feed. So far I’ve learnt that the guy who writes it is called Ian.

What next? I need some more people to follow. I must feed on their tweets. I go to facebook and see that a friend from my undergrad days uses Twitter, so I add his feed. He is an interesting person and will probably have some interesting things to say. “Fish and chips” he says in a tweet.

But who else to follow? I’m a bit stuck, and will have to do some digging around to find something. I obviously move in the wrong circles.

But enough of who to follow, what shall I say? No one is listening, so it doesn’t really matter. I break the ice with something banal:

“I begin the Twitter Trials. Follow my progress on http://www.40three.wordpress.com”

It feels a bit like speaking out loud to an empty room.

No prizes for noticing the slowly growing buz on the web about Twitter. Along with all the hype however, there is a perhaps greater than usual (usual for an emerging web tool) volume of noise from those expressing dislike or just down right puzzlement. twitter_logo_s

‘So, what, you just post short messages about what you’re doing (“i’m brushing my teeth”) and anyone who wants to follow your life can? I don’t get it. Isn’t that just a lot of distracting noise?’

Say some people.Then:

‘Doesn’t it just feed the celebrity culture, where people are more interested in the banal events of others lives than the significant ones of their own?’

Say other people.

Like these people, I am predisposed to skepticism with this one. ‘Sounds dumb’ was my first thought. However, when I first heard of blogs a decade ago, I thought that sounded pretty dumb too, so what do I know?

In that spirit, I propose an experiment. I’ll try twitter, but better than that, I’ll share the experience with anyone who chances upon this blog. So join me on this journey to a deeper understanding of all that Tweets.

A few disclaimers before I start. I don’t text very much, and my mobile is a bit crap; I don’t have an iPhone; I’m on Facebook but I can count the times I’ve updated my status on one hand. Perhaps that means I’m not the ideal candidate for this experiment. But perhaps not.

If you Twitter, is it any good? Should I follow you? Is it a load of crap?

Next up: getting an account.

It’s been quite here, very quiet. I’ve been taking a break, and I’ve been processing the world and my life a little – input but no output, if you like. At least, no output on this blog – as I begin the final year of my PhD I’ve been gearing up to make it happen. In other words, I’ve actually started writing it, like for real.debategraph

But enough of my personal life, what has awoken me from blogging hibernation? A new web tool called Debategraph.

In true just-out-of-hibernation fashion, I’m a little late with this one, but I still think it deserves some lovin’. It’s a ‘wiki debate visualization tool’, which aims to allow the organisation and presentation of different positions and issues within an argument. Since I spend my day-to-day reading, processing and writing arguments I’m all ears when it comes to new ways to present subtle and complex issues.

I like it because it seems to be a  way of avoiding sound bite simplifications and could prove to be a very useful tool to help students, and anyone else interested in learning and forming opinions, get their their heads round just how difficult some problem or other is.

Of course, to really get anything out of it (or put anything into it) it requires a decent amount of your attention. You can’t just read a headline to decide what’s right, nor can you slap up your first thoughts and opinions with complete disregard for what else is being said (well, I guess you can, but it’s not so easy or tempting). But in that sense it reflects more accurately the difficulties of real debates, something often hidden by internet rants.

It’s not perfect, by a long shot, but the idea gets my thumbs up. It’d be great to see philosophy students using it for a bit of collaborative learning.


I thought I’d draw your attention to some interesting work by artist Bobby Neel Adams.

These are beautiful, I think, and I love new ways of looking at relationships.

Some of the other pieces I find a little too overworked.

young and old

young and old

Turns out you’re never too young to join a social networking site:

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