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Twitter and Me


@M_ry The mountain shrugged 11:18 AM Feb 28th from twitterrific

There was a time when, casting about at parties for something to talk about, I’d to ask people, “Do you Twitter?”  Not any more though, because Twitter, the hot new web service that allows you to share messages, feelings or opinions with friends or absolute strangers in 140 characters or less, can elicit a strong response.

@M_ry Sometimes I wish smoking was good for you 11:43 AM Mar 21st from Tweetie

I myself discovered the vapid blue Twitter homepage, with its hygienic graphics fatuously asking, ”What are you doing?” one rainy afternoon in February.  It didn’t seem like much in the beginning, but I can now say, I’m @M_ry and I have a habit: the habitual morning tweet, the follow-on tweet or two.  I get to work for a while, but sure enough in the deep afternoon, the witching hour, will come the compulsive tweet. I’ve been voyeuristically roaming over other people’s tweets and profiles and suddenly all I know is that it’s a half hour later.

@M_ry cant be afraid of making mistakes or it turns into craft  11:32 AM Mar 12th from Tweetie

In my life as an artist and parent, my best days are when I can pick my clothes off the floor and go to my studio.  Sometimes I need gear, but I do carry around two things almost invariably: a sketchbook and my phone.  We all have our little habits, and my cuticles are very well, thank you, but I am a chronic doodler and I do love to jot down that random thought.  Thanks to the many ‘add-on products software developers create for a platform like Twitter, there are handy little apps that allow me to access Twitter from my phone: Twitterific and Tweetie.  There are also countless other products:  Tweetberry for Blackberry or Tweet Deck for laptop.  You can even manage your stats on Mr. Tweet.

@M_ry  Making stuff as part of a conversation or making stuff from an inner compulsion. Either way knowing the next step is a state of grace.  4:24 PM Mar 18th from Tweetie

I started out with 6 followers and I followed a few people who weren’t following me. I didn’t get the sense that anyone read anything I wrote and I certainly didn’t feel obligated to read anything they wrote.  At this stage I can say that I quite enjoyed the ability to trap, for myself, and release, directly into the public domain, lovely linguistic ephemera, serendipitous visual puns, urgent prognostications and random musings.

@M_ry  Where's the flow what with all the meta-cognition. 2:12 PM Mar 15th from Tweetie

Eventually, I was trapped by the adage of my own making that any tool requires that you consider its utility and your need.  As my ‘Follower’ group slowly swelled, I found myself increasingly self-conscious as to my intentions. What is my goal and do I need to have a goal?

@M_ry  the revolution will not be televised 11:48 AM Feb 23rd from twitterrific

The incredible power of twitter is real-time interactive broadcasting. Like broadcast, it can feel like everyone is talking and no one is listening, but like broadcast it can provide a tremendous amount of entertainment of a potentially highly-pertinent sort.  I am reminded of the very funny time Ariana Huffington appeared on Jon Stewart.  She said, “You should blog darling, really darling,” and he responds, “But I already have the big screen in the bedroom.  What’s the point?”  The point is a co-existence of synergistic mediums.  I can mail a letter, send an email, twitter, read a book, write a blog, watch TV and then a DVD, and make art all in the same day. We live in a time akin to the development of the Gutenberg printing press, with the uses and repercussions being formed as we speak. When the term blogging, as in web-logging, showed up in 2004 it connoted a squishy personal world of ladies writing about knitting and webcams in college rooms and fish tanks. Blogging has grown up to change way the newspapers, politics, and commerce interact with their constituencies. The proliferation of content and the burgeoning numbers of those able to create content is the rhizome predicted by Gilles Deleuze.  Move over Citizen Kane. Citizen: rise and tweet. 

One contingent of people use Twitter to support their other publishing goals and interact with their readership in an interactive, informal manner.  They use their 140 characters like a headline or as the abstract required for submittal of a scientific paper and they will link to a blog, an image or a webpage. To that end, talking heads at most major media twitter, most of the major museums, many celebrities twitter.  Many have ghost-tweeters and others, like the tragic Lindsay Lohan, twitter for themselves.  A site known as WeFollow.com attempts to create affinity groups.  As for the disciplined, business side of Twitter-ing (yawn) there are so many online how-to manuals on that already: http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/twitter_for_journalists.php and http://www.doshdosh.com/ways-you-can-use-twitter/.

I find the full spectrum of use of 140 characters more interesting. It’s where I’m heading and I’m not alone. Zem Joaquin of Ecofabulous.com says, “I love to tweet when I feel like sharing an experience with my community instantly…it is a great way to take short hand notes that do double duty as a communication tool.”

Matt Mullenweg, Wordpress founder, tech wunderkind and just about inventor of blogging says,” I twitter because it’s easier than things I should be doing.”

Two or three sentences are more than enough for a note to self in the margin. It’s what you might whisper to a co-worker at a meeting or pass on a note to a classmate. It’s enough space for two in-the-know comrade-in-arms to communicate in code.  This accounts for Twitter’s passionate interest to daytraders stalking real-time info and in constant contact with each other all day all the time anyway.  Twitter is great during large multi-stage events like art fairs or SXSW where a tweet can let you know what’s going on in the room next to you right now. Throw out a query on where to lunch or who to hire and get back 5 or 6 responses right away. 

Among my art-tribe I find Twitter to be enough of a thin-slice to pique my interest or teach me a little something without imposing itself in my day although I do find that keeping abreast of my ‘Following’ group so that it does not devolve into meaningless drivel to be a chore.          

@M_ry  Looking for a way to be art, not archeology and artifact: speak to the future in your own individual voice. 7:18 AM Mar 16th from Tweetie

I already have a serious platform for serious output. I want to rise to that occasion, not squander my time and attention on off the cuff remarks. I am pondering my relationship to twitter. I can broaden my circle, taking a look at other crowds, which I can enter and get out of at will, kind of like a big cocktail party. I can promote my work and show ‘behind the scene glimpses.’ I can document my ideas, and get a sense of my pre-occupations.   Or I might be done with it. Tune into @M_ry to find out.

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Mary Conrad

Mary Conrad makes art about fungibility.