Monday, February 25, 2013

Now...Live Tweets!


Chapter seven in Neil Postman’s book, “Now…This,” made me think of the short, fragmented type of discourse encouraged by the Internet. There’ve been a lot of times that I’ve participated in comments sections of news articles, and each time I’m struck by the ease that I pick-up and let go of the issue. Even when the article is about something that matters to me, once I’m done in the comments section, I typically stop thinking about it.
Similar to the news’ ability to move from issue to issue, I find that I’m increasingly jumping from comments section to comments section without a second thought. It didn’t bother me before, but now it does, because I fear that I’m becoming a part of Postman’s worry of a telegraphic society that uses little to no depth of thought.
Another instance of this, and possibly a more striking one, is the use of Twitter and live tweeting during the presidential debates. During each of the debates I kept an eye on the various hashtags used by news outlets, and sent my own tweets their way. I found that it was a lot like a comments section that updated extremely quickly. The tweets people sent in ranged from ad homonyms to serious questions, but either way, they were restricted to 140 characters, further emphasizing the inability to dive deep into the issues.
Here’s my question to others, have you ever live tweeted anything? If so, did you feel a similar lack of depth? If not, for what reason(s), and/or do you feel that live tweeting could add anything to a discussion?

12 comments:

  1. I have been involved in live tweeting in a few circumstances. I've done it at concerts and through television shows, which is fun, but like you said there's not a lot of depth. More just opinions and little comments about your favorite part, or as a way to connect with other viewers, etc.

    I have been involved in live tweeting from a journalistic standpoint as well. In classes and a few other exercises I've had to practice putting up breaking news in 140 characters, and giving the most significant and compact details and updates. This I feel like has the possibility to have more depth because in most cases there is a link to a larger story, or there is a continuous stream of what's taking place. A single tweet may not have much depth, but by using a hashtag or following a certain Twitter handle you are able to get at least a more informative expereince.

    I think that live tweeting gets people more involved in a certain situation. It has the possibility to have people focus on the core issues of a topic and get it out to their followers too. This may lead a single tweet to catch the attention of others and lead to more forms of public discourse.

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  2. I've never been involved in live tweeting. I wasn't even involved in Twitter until a couple months ago when I decided it would be fun to follow my favorite actors to see what kind of people they are behind their stage faces. I've had a Facebook for a year or two, but signing up for Twitter was a completely new experience for me. The tweets that started appearing in my feed were a new animal. All of the short, chopped up sentences littered with hashtags didn't make any sense to me, and I found myself feeling alienated from the people tweeting them, not more connected. After a few weeks of this, I finally gave up. I've always been a fan of the typographic world, and I guess the way of thinking it inspires has made the kind of communication Twitter utilizes uninterpretable for me.

    That being said, live tweeting is way out of my league, but I do still have an opinion on the subject. You ask if live tweets could have a good, or any effect on a discussion, add anything to it. My answer is, within the context of television, no. A tweet is too short to delve into any topic in depth, but it could inspire a change of topic or function as a prompt. Even this kind of effect, however, would require for the people discussing to have the time and will to talk about it for awhile and bounce ideas off of each other, something unlikely to occur in the world of television. In real life conference, yes a tweet could make a difference, even if one easy to be misinterpreted. On a televised one, I very much doubt it.

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  3. I've been involved in live tweeting a couple of times at big events, like concerts or presentations. However, these instances usually involved me tweeting something ridiculous in hopes of getting my tweet on the big screen, and it never works out. So I'm not really a fan. Either way, I could see how twitter's character limit could be restrictive to some users engaging in political discussion. I mean, conciseness can really only get you so far -- some thoughts may be too lengthy to adequately condense. In those kind of situations, I guess the only real thing to do is to take your thoughts to a medium that wouldn't be so restrictive.

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  4. I have not live tweeted before, I too have only had a twitter account for a few months. It has not become an instinct for me as it is for some of my friends (as in I have hung out with people who, after a joke, say, 'someone has to tweet that'), not that instinctual tweeting is necessarily bad, but I'm glad that it hasn't grabbed a hold of me. I enjoy seeing updates of actors, athletes, bands, etc. every once in a while, but otherwise I don't use it too much for personal use (I am one of the writing center's twitter coordinators, so I use twitter for the WC often).

    Now...this. I think Twitter and comments sections definitely fit the bill of what Postman was worried about. We have such short term memories and attention spans, and I too look at comments, feel some sort of strong emotion, and then forget about it, because a different article/text/facebook update/tweet/etc. calls my attention.

    I think that a way to combat this in a way, kind of like Jake said, is to go to a different form. Blogs can be really good for this I think. I used to really not like them, particularly because I only knew of ones that were ranty, but they can certainly be used in thoughtful ways, kind of like this blog.

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  5. I've never participated in any kind of live social media interaction, but I have watched numerous programs where such things are taking place. I've noticed that in every one of these programs, the audience is consistently reminded of the events unfolding on social media, usually twitter. I feel as if this distraction takes the attention of the audience away from the matters being discussed on screen.

    I don't feel as if "live twitter feeds" during these programs are beneficial to the overall product or the message it is trying to convey. Very rarely are the tweets scrolling at the bottom of the screen used in conjunction with the content of the program they are interrupting. So the continuos line of random quips from viewers online, ranging from relevant topics to desperate pleas to see their handles on television, does nothing but take attention away from the topics at hand.

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  6. When I was in 431 a couple years ago, my teacher actually encouraged us to "live tweet" during class. The topics ranged from funny comments to some interesting meta-discussion about our class discussion. Instead of distracting us from class, Twitter enriched our discussion.

    Of course, this kind of conversation is vastly different from the huge events that spark world-wide discussion. I've participated in live discussion on forums during football games, and I found it to be distracting because I was more engaged in conversation than I was watching the game.

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  7. When it comes to sporting events, I've found that live tweeting actually enhances the viewing experience. However, tweeting during news programs really hasn't added anything significant to the conversation yet. I think there is a lot of potential with twitter and other social networking programs to change our public discourse, but we haven't gotten there yet. The Internet's contribution to public discourse is an issue I have been wondering about since reading Postman. I'm optimistic that the Internet will eventually improve our culture's public discourse, but I think it will be a long time before we see significant signs of that change.

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  8. I've never live tweeted, but I think in some instances it can be good fun and in others it can be a distraction. For instance, I had several friends who live tweeted the Oscars. I think that in cases like that live tweeting is almost like having a conversation with others as if they were physically watching it with you, and the light banter matches the light topic. However, when live tweeting more serious events, I think that it can distract the tweeter from actually digesting and analyzing what they are hearing. In the rush to get their ideas out, they aren't taking the time to think about what they've heard.

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  9. I almost feel like live tweeting takes away my own thought. Instead of really thinking about the situation, I'm literally dumping it out in a tweet. After that, I forget about it and move on. It's a thought dump, and it really has no contextual value. Just a fleeting moment in time, stuck in the twitter sphere.

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  10. I have never participated in live tweeting and I do not like twitter in general because it is so limiting. I do think there a certain lack of depth associated with twitter. I do think that sometimes live tweeting could add to a discussion because at least it is contributing something. We have talked in class about how television is very one sided and leaves viewers feeling impotent. At least with live tweeting, the viewers have the ability to questions things and give their opinion even if that capacity is very limited by the 140 character restriction.

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  11. I have never participated in live tweeting and don't really like twitter that much. I actually have a twitter page now because of another English class. I always forget I have a twitter page though and then forget to write comments. But I suppose there could be some positive things about live tweeting such as being able to receive feed back about comments very quickly without having a face to face conversation, which is neat, but is also a lot like texting. But I agree with Kaleah that tweeting is very limiting.

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  12. Twitter is actually something that I've managed to stay away from, mostly because I don't have a smart phone. I don't see much of a use for it if I can't post on the go. It's just easier for me to use Facebook.

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