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Friendships and twitter

As I left the University halls for the last time so it signalled the beginning of a new era in my life. No longer would I go to the student bar or the editing suites to chat with friends and see what they were doing. Now it was time to move to another part of London where new friendships would be made.  Some of these friendships would be helped along by twitter. It’s like a chat room you can take with you anywhere.

At first this is a daunting chatroom. You see updates from thousands of people telling you of their latest thoughts and what they’re doing. It’s a blur and it’s hard to stick out. Over time, as you grow more familiar with the twitterverse so it becomes easier to understand. You see people living in your area so you add them and start following what they do. They add you and they know what you’re doing. Over time you get to know their daily habits, when they tend to start their day, how they organise their time and more. As a result of this it creates a feeling of communal living. That’s when you take it to the next step.

For me that next step was the twitter meetup. My experience was the following. Two people I had previously met, and many I had never met, met up in a restaurant for food and drinks and to talk about subjects they enjoy. As they did so it created a new sense of what twitter was about. It’s a technology that lets you get to know those on the other screen better than you would through traditional postings, comments and more. It’s alive and current rather than static and passive.

Twitter went even further to being an interesting technology at the Podcamp UK because at this event I got to know at least five or six more twitter users and added them to those I am following. As a result twitter is a link between a group of people interested in related industries and conversations. As a result of this there is a new level of community that forms via the medium of text. In effect conversations are taking place between people who are not in the same part of the world.

Funnily enough we are in the same part of the world, as you’d see from my “following” list on twitter. It’s a tool, an enhancement like many others that enables communities which are spread out, in nature, to communicate instantly as if across a garden fence or on their daily walk. It’s a great tool which, in this age, is essential to make people feel more involved.  We’ll see how it progresses from here.

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As featured on Operator 11

After a long but great day of work I came home to do The Twitter Vox show with Loudmouthman and two guests. We were joined by Goldie Katsu and Malburns. We discussed what it’s like to reach 3000 tweets and the conversation moved towards the advantages of using twitter when part of global communities like Second Life. We had some interesting insights and the conversation progressed well. It’s a good show and can be found here.

additionaly the show was featured on the front page of operator 11.

Twitter Vox featured

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Ijustine and the Fake Steve Jobs

The fake Steve Jobs linked to this video before writing a short commentary.

Fake Steve Jobs truly does hate me. His 2nd hate post: http://tweetl.com/0u8

 “Phone Bill Girl and one of her fellow Ph.D. candidates are discussing the work of Roland Barthes and narrative theory in the context of Derrida and Chomsky, with a deftly handled digression into the recurring sexism of Norman Mailer’s work”

I have no idea where the inspiration for the video came from but the little remark is amusing. Fake Steve’s comment is about citizen journalism and by referencing Ijustine’s video he brings a satirical look at the question. In effect we hear so much about problems with accuracy and mis-information that this video is a nice break. it’s satirizing the idea of citizen journalism.

“Somewhere in heaven, Marshall McLuhan is weeping. Either that or laughing his ass off.” 

This comment is particularly relevant to the quote I used two or three days ago.

…makes each of us present and accessible to every other person in the world. To a large degree our co-presence everywhere at once in the electric age is a fact of passive, rather than active, experience.

Marshall McLuhan wrote that last comment fourty three years ago and today it’s a reality, but not as he envisaged it. The video of Justine having a little fun with a friend is a perfect representation of what the Web has become. Having spent some time researching the Operator 11 movement I have been surprised to find that people are video chatting to each other in a public place. Some of them are without shirts, others have a glass or a bottle next to them and yet more are falling asleep.

People are living their lives online. They’re going out to meet friends but they’re also social from the comfort of home. Looking at what several people have done on operatr 11 I found myself thinking that this is beavis and butthead web 2.0.  The reason behind this thought is the nature of the programs. Users like Rubberbangirl start a “show” and users connect to the stream and comment both in video and through the text chat. As they do so we get a sense of community and well being. Anyone anywhere in the world can participate at any time of day and McLuhan’s thoughts are getting more concrete with every day that passes.

At this moment in time Justine and other participants of Justin.tv are walking with the cameras life casting their lives. At the same time hundreds of people are sitting behind their computer screens at home watching as a number of lives occur in real life. Within a few months I expect that we’ll see these streams straight to mobile phones so that as one person lives and broadcasts their life so someone else is living their life as they watch another.

We’re living in the digital/electric age where everyone can talk to everyone else. Whilst Fake Steve is having fun in his way so we see a little snippet of how Justine has her own fun. Neither of them is write or wrong. They’re reflections of trends that are active. The only difference is that whereas Fake Steve and Justine have a high profile so most users are still relatively anonymous.

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McLuhan’s Thoughts And How They May Relate To Twitter

“The simultaneity of electric communication, also characteristic of our nervous system, makes each of us present and accessible to every other person in the world. To a large degree, our co-presence everywhere at once in the electric age is a fact of passive, rather than active, experience. Actively we are more likely to have this awareness when reading the newspaper or watching a tv show.”

Marshall McLuhan – 1964

Marshall McLuhan was well known for a period because of the theories he developed but over time he went into disrepute as people lost interest in his ideas. When the Internet and a new form of interaction with it, the World Wide Web came to be so McLuhan’s theories would once again become more relevant, at which point people began reading and studying his works, adapting them to this day and age.  I particularly the quote above. “makes each of us present and accessible to every other person in the world” describes twitter succinctly. When you have some free time later in the day take a look at twittervision and you will have a graphic representation of what McLuhan was talking about.

He began his discussion by talking about communication and how it sped up, especially at the beginning of this century. He speaks about how some of the worst dictators had direct communications to their soldiers therefore doubt was out of the question. In effect, there is no greater authority. Of course, this is one example. On the other side, we have a tremendous force for achieving great progress.

Anyone that currently uses twitter knows one thing. At any time of day or night, you will see a global conversation going on. Those who are in Asia easily speak to those in Europe and those in Europe easily speak to those in America. In fact, technology goes two steps further. The first of these steps is the short message system. By its very nature, Twitter is more like the telegraph than other technologies. 140 characters to get your point across. It’s short. It’s quick to access and it’s easy to spread. The second point is that it’s mobile. You write your message and send it from anywhere and people all over the world may see your thoughts.

A result of this is the friendships that can form. I’m in Europe and most of my twitters are read in Europe since most of the people up a the same time as me are in the same time zone as me but there is an overspill whereby Americans get access. Look at my twitter list and you’ll see that people in South Africa, North America, and Europe are following me and I’m following them. In effect, this brings me to the second quote.

“Electrical media however, abolish the spatial dimension, rather than enlarge it. By electricity, we everywhere resume person-to-person relations as if on the smallest village scale. It is a relation in depth, and without delegation of functions of powers. The organic everywhere supplants the mechanical. Dialogue supersedes the lecture. The greatest dignitaries hobnob with you.

Marshall McLuhan – 1964

As a result of high-speed internet access and mobile telephony I can listen to the discussion of anyone around the world as long as they chose to use twitter and conversely everyone can listen to what I have to say. As a result of this state of being there is a global medium bringing people closer together. Ev Williams, the creator of twitter is currently on around the world trip and he tweets what he’s up to frequently therefore a global audience is kept up to date. Friends who live in London twitter and I see what they’re doing and when they’re doing it. I can see how they’re feeling and I spot character traits. What’s more, Twitter is one of the most personal mediums I know. The twitter community is a worldwide group of people who like to keep each other informed about what they do, whether it’s their latest blog post, their most recent job interview, or the fact they’re tired and need to sleep.

That’s where the village comes into the equation. When you’re writing a blog post you’re an author. You must keep in mind who you are writing for. If you’re writing about how much you hate to sit in classrooms then keep in mind that both employers and teachers may find out how you feel. That audience expects the best you have to offer. In contrast, Twitter is temporary. What I wrote this morning is no longer relevant. What I wrote three hours is less relevant. What I write now is highly relevant. Now how does the village element come in?

A village is a small gathering of people who live in relatively close proximity. If the neighbour is in the garden reading a book you know about it. If they’re preparing a trip you’ll see the signs. If there’s a football game you’ll also know about it. In other words, there’s a great deal of familiarity and collective experience. This creates a strong sense of community. Go for a walk in a village and you’ll say hello to everyone. Go to the shops and there’s a chance either you or the person in front of you will chat with the cashier. That’s part of village life. It’s the same with twitter. Jeff Pulver says good morning to the world, Justin and Justine just take the world with them and Loudmouthman says goodnight. All of this is familiar.

In some respects, you could say it’s like instant messaging but on a global scale and without restrictions.

The third and final point is one of the hot topics at the moment as the news media need to re-invent themselves.

” The telegraph quickly weakened this center-margin pattern and, more important, by intensifying the volume of news, it greatly weakened the role of editorial opinions. News had steadily overtaken views as shaper of public attitudes….”

I chose this quote because of its relevance to the debate that is now taking place almost fourty years later. He goes into how important the telegraph was for getting the news to the masses and how there was a decline in the need for opinions since the news could be delivered straight to the people without opinion being delivered. In effect, the audience would be given the chance to read the facts and make up their own minds about what’s important. With digital media and the progression of online news so we find that people get most of their news as soon as it happens. As a result of this trend newspapers that focussed solely on getting people the facts about events would need, once more to go for the writing of opinions and editorials.

There’s a chance we’re living in one of the most interesting time periods for anyone working in the media.

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Operator 11, Your Own Television Show

Operator 11 has taken video sharing and webcasting to the next level. Whereas websites such as youtube, google video, myspace, and Facebook all allow you to upload and share videos this one allows you two additional features.

The first difference can be spotted when you sign up and arrive at the profile page. Rather than have text dialogue boxes you are offered a set of questions. You are expected to respond to these with a video message. You can describe who you are, what films and television you like, what books and interests you have.

As a result, your status as a lurker has already been compromised. People see you and you see them. That’s just the first step.

It’s whilst watching The Old Grey Video test that I saw the great potential that this website has. It allows you to switch between webcams in different countries. What this means is that the presenter presents the show and tells everyone about the program before introducing his guests, at which point he switches from his camera to that of one of the guests. As a result of this technology, a video dialogue between individuals is possible.

You may deal with the video content in a number of ways. The first of these is that you start a show and just talk until you run out of things to say before quitting the show and stopping the Livestream. The second option is to go into the video library. Here you can see your old shows and comments, you can upload video clips with a size limit of 200 megabytes, plenty for video inserts. The third option is to record some videos straight from the computer to the website.

Once this step is complete the fun may really begin. You go to create a show and have the choice between starting the show immediately or scheduling it for another time of day. If you start the show immediately then a few people may hear about the show but there’s a good chance that the viewership is low. A second option is that you schedule the show for a different time and day. As a result of this, you may tell your friends that at a specific time you will have a live show.

Now that the first two steps are done and that your show is about to start you start preparing your inserts and making sure that your guest video streams are ready. The clips which you had selected earlier and uploaded are now all in the video library. You may select up to 9 video streams ready for playout when you chose to cue them. Assuming you’ve had a show for a while you may roll the intro clip introducing the show. You may select a second source, for example, your camera and press cue. What the cue does is tell the website’s software that the next source should be your camera. Once the intro finishes rolling you’re on, telling the world about your show, and during this time you’re going to go to select another source, for example, some interview from the street. You cue that source and select to broadcast that stream. The camera’s off you and you’ve got time to prepare the next clip.

When preparing the clips you can preview them, making sure that it’s the right clip. Once that’s done you cue that as the next video. As long as the clips are long enough in duration you can keep switching from clip to clip. If you’ve got more videos than sources simply replace a video you’ve already played with another one.

Whilst I have not yet had the chance to switch between live sources through this software I have watched how it is used. Already I’ve found that there are three or four social groups that are part of the system. As one group of friends sits in one apartment another individual is watching them. If he chooses to he can go into the “live” room. Once he’s in there the “director” can see the video stream coming in whilst the guest can make a request to be on camera or to play a video clip. That’s the business end of this software because that’s what allows conversations to occur between individuals. At times this may be between two people but at other times this may be between a cluster of live feeds. As a result, you can talk to anyone around the world about any topic. It’s great.

In the past few hours of use, I have seen computer gaming shows, teens talking to other teens, cats playing with string, and walking on ledges. I have seen people play music on request and live events in various parts of the world. As a result, there is an interesting diversity of programs on offer.

It’s also a great learning experience. Having done vision mixing, directing, studio camera operator, and insert editor with full production crews mainly for my university course I find this environment is quite complete. It’s a simple but powerful user interface and I should be giving it a proper try out at 8 pm British summertime, 12am PST. The show will be called twitter vox and should discuss the twitter phenomenon.

An additional bonus is the fact that you can plug a DV input into your laptop and the source will be recognised as a result of which you can get a much higher quality video image, aside from pixelation. Better than not seeing anything.

Overall I think this is one of the most interesting video sites I’ve seen in a long time and I plan on using it to its full potential.

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Twitter IRL

Last night I went to the London twitter meetup and enjoyed the event. I’m used to going out and hearing people talk about music and other things but here is a community that was talking about technology and internet-based activities. Sizemore and Trusted Places organised the event which took place at the Ishtar restaurant.

As a result of my taking my camera with me I was put in charge of covering the event whilst Jess interviewed people about how and why they use twitter. We got some interesting responses from those who use it heavily, less frequently, or have just heard about it. All of this footage is now digitised and should be worked on tomorrow afternoon. Once the footage is edited it may appear on Geek entertainment TV as a four or five-minute piece.

What I liked about this event is that its people are interested in and active in new media activities. As I spoke to Loud Mouth Man he told me of his show called the Old Grey video test. It’s an interesting program where a group of people with webcams in a number of locations talk to each other via video chat. What makes this particularly interesting is the fact that they’re switching from one camera and one person to another camera and another person. It means that you can watch the speakers as they address the issues they have decided to cover for that specific episode.  As of yet I’ve only watched one episode but I will definitely watch the second one very soon.

I also spoke to Walid of Trustedplaces and he told me about how they were moving to video reviews as mentioned in their blog. Here is one example of the work they’re doing.

Pictures of the event can be found here and here.

Overall the night was well received by the people who participated and I’m already looking forward to the next one in the near future I hope. I’ll work on getting the video ready as soon as possible so that you may hear for yourselves what people had to say.


Twitter is Suffering



Twitter is suffering and Jaiku is showing off about how great that website is in comparison. They omit to mention two facts.

  1. It’s (giving the impression of being) proprietary, interesting mainly to Nokia users (at the moment)

  2. It’s better online (requires a browser to take full advantage)

Twitter is a mobile status tool of sorts

–edit note–

All text in italics is an edit following on from Petteri’s comment.

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Twitter is a global short messaging system that allows people to post what they are doing 140 characters at a time. For the moment it is a relatively new phenomenon therefore it’s not too hard to keep track of the conversations going on.

They are also geo logged. As you’re watching people’s messages you can see China say that they’re getting ready for the night ahead whilst in Europe people are going out to lunch. In the US people are complaining about having to wake up early in order to catch their planes, go for walks or in certain cases go to bed.

It’s amusing and it’s reminiscent of ten years ago when I spent 13hrs in a chatroom at a time when spending ten minutes online was expensive. it’s cyclical. One thing is popular, then is replaced by something else before becoming popular again.

One difference this time is the technology used. Google maps show where in the world people are tweeting from whilst the twitter site simply shows what people have written. It’s amusing to watch the world and what people are doing in it.