It’s an Interesting World: 5

19 Apr
Home Sweet Home on the Lower East Side - money on a bar, is this a sign the recession is over?!

Money on a bar - is this a sign the recession is over?! (Home Sweet Home, Lower East Side)

Quote of the week:

Don’t touch me on my studio! – eTV anchor Chris Maroleng warns AWB secretary-general Andre Visagie, on air, to back off … on his studio.

I am quite in love with a recent article by Trevor Butterworth published in Forbes, that discusses “How Twitter and ‘The New Yorker’ can be best friends.” In Bridging the Gap, Butterworth, who at one stage viewed blogging as a disastrous medium for long-form writers, now views Twitter as a useful service for writers:If you tailor who you follow to what you want to find out, you have a powerful, human algorithm for interrogating the mass of musings deposited on the Web each day; and if you get followed, you have, potentially, a powerful tool for depositing your own work into the narrative stream.”

It’s a challenge that gifted and skilled writers should not shy away from. I wholeheartedly agree with the use of Twitter as a form of aggregating interesting tidbits of conversation, information, thoughts from the people you admire and find interesting. Of course some useless bits filter through (generally, I’m the one publishing them!!), and really there is no need for me to follow Perez Hilton, but I am eager to wade into the tweeting world, no matter how derisively I talk about it, and figure out what it’s worth to me.

Right now on my news feed I’m following Slate, the NY Times, BBC World, Reuters, Sree Sreenivasan, Perez Hilton, CNN, The Daily Beast, Gakwer, Jack Shafer, The Guardian, the Mail & Guardian and the J-school at Columbia, Jay Rosen from NYU Journalism … and I’m trying to add people everyday!

On the friends list it’s mostly journalists from my school in South Africa, as well as the Columbia J-schoolers who often provide tweets that are just as useful as those from news outlets.

Over the course of the last year, I’ve had a few discussions about the “ying and the yang” of social media, and in which circumstances platforms like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, mobile phones etc, can help (or harm) communities experiencing conflict. With the riots in Iran causing a state-wide government shutdown of media and communication sharing that could only significantly be cracked by using social media and digital tools, my thoughts turned to the Rwandan genocide, and whether social media could’ve been as useful in getting the message out to the world of how dire things were. It’s a different time now – a different world, and I suppose it doesn’t help to imagine such things, but I do wonder if, and how, Twitter may be changing our world.

The Christian Science Monitor’s Luke Allnutt discusses the dark side in “Twitter doesn’t start a revolution, people do,” theorizing that the Rwandan genocide would have happened at a faster pace if it had happened in modern times.

I’m particularly interested in the effect these connections are having on our individual and social psychologies. What does it mean that we can now meet people from all over the world and get information we need (or don’t need!) in a second? What does it mean that I can throw out a question into the universe (thank you Aardvark!) and get a number of pretty good, or at least interesting, responses in seconds? And what will web services like chatroulette, which don’t give us the option to totally ignore the weird and crazy out there (at least for a second) do for our understanding of our relationships with “fellow man”? 

In another one of my favourites for the month, Michael Cervieri writes in ScribeMedia about Aardvark and the development of the “Synaptic Web.”

Aardvark’s leveraging of the vast amounts of social, geographic and overall data sloshing through the Web and reconstructing it into a useful utility demonstrates an overall shift in the Internet’s evolution. There’s even a name being promoted to describe the trend. It’s called the Synaptic Web.

“The Synaptic Web is a set of observations about how the Web is forming,” says Khris Loux, CEO of Echo and proponent of the concept. “As the speed, flexibility and complexity of connections on the Web increase exponentially, the Internet is increasingly beginning to resemble a biological analog; the human brain.”

And speaking of chatroulette – a service I hope never to look at again after seeing some horrors at a party – here’s a very talented composer singing a charming duet to the people he meets:

In other news, I attempted the Central Park 6.3 mile loop two weeks ago, and it was fantastic, definitely one of the best runs I’ve done. The landscape of the park, as it changes between the Upper East Side, Morningside Heights and Lower Harlem and the Upper West Side is fascinating, both in natural and human diversity! I would definitely recommend it – just try not to get run over by the power runners.

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