Choosing Silence

This website started as a blog in 2002. Back then it was the early days of sharing, personal diaries online, leaving and responding to comments; ongoing conversations. All these years later, after the dawn of podcasting and youtube stars, social media and viral content, live tweeting and instagraming- things evolved from a very exciting and seemingly limitless new world for communication and understanding, to a fickle world of hearing only what interests you and tuning out everyone and everything else. The world got smaller, while also becoming a place we don’t trust or yearn for. People could communicate with everyone and anyone, but usually end up posting a few photos of a baby, a pet, or a something temporarily amusing. Long story short: it is not quite the world it looked like it might become in those early days of personal publishing and new tools for expression. It has become.. something else.

But you’ve heard much of this. One thing there is no shortage of on today’s internet- commentary about the state of the internet. This alone has, over there years, inspired me to stop writing. In a world where everyone is expressing themselves, everyone is sharing, everyone is looking into their technology in search of — something, we don’t know what- my gut reaction is to close the browser and forget about writing words on a screen. What’s the difference, won’t it all be scrolled out of relevance really soon anyway? Lately, I’ve found more joy in the comfort of my home, sharing a good meal or laugh with my partner, gathering with friends as often as possible in person, than I have toiling over what to write in the next paragraph.

I’m somehow reminded of the old Timothy Leary (via Marshall McLuhan) quote: “Turn on, tune in, drop out”, though I’m sure like many recycled quotes, I may not completely understand the themes of self-reliance and consciousness that I think he was recommending back in the 60’s. But if he meant in any way looking inward for meaning and solutions to problems, then that is very much we’re I’ve been over the past few years. Not looking to any institution, leader, or movement of any kind… I’ve sought the answer within. And that journey continues, but it is nice to write on the blog like old times, regardless if anyone is reading.

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The Activist Origins of Twitter

avatar Rabble Guest

“… Just like the telephone, the mobile phone, or the television was and is weird, so is twitter.” – Rabble.  

twitter
photo by Joe Pemberton / flickr

Rabble was the first ever employee at twitter and had the opportunity to watch how it went from activist tool to massively popular communication medium.  In a world where everyone thinks they know why twitter or tools like twitter exist and are good, Rabble has unique knowledge that can explain why it exists and how things changed over time. He can tell you the good, the bad, and the in between, as is so often the case with such a widely used platform.

Towards the end of the summer of 2013, at hacker camp (OHM), Rabble and I sat down to record this conversation and explore this often overlooked topic.

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Value Can Be Found Beyond the Blue Boxes

Photo by Vik407 /flickr

If you’re involved in any kind of project these days chances are you make use of Facebook in some way or another. If you don’t, a few clicks on the internet or a few pages in your local newspaper, and you’ll probably get hit with an article about how “you should” in order to reach “the people”.  In the publishing world it is the same story multiplied by 1000, as the world’s largest social network site is considered the be all end all of doing anything online. If you’re not making full use of facebook, you’re somehow a failure or a fool.  Why? Because in the publishing world it is all about the numbers, and if there’s one thing we’re told over and over again, facebook has the numbers.

But what real value do these numbers have? The truth that few want to admit, is that we don’t know. What proof is there that all those likes, and all the times your post gets shared on facebook, that these things amount to anything beyond a brief 2 sentences that are constantly being buried under the feeds of the insatiable scrolling machines we have all become.  Companies pay a full time staff to control their social media presence, to keep an eye on the social networks and make sure they’re “talking about us.”  Somewhere along the line of all of us going online, “talking about” something stopped meaning real conversations of any substance, and became the act of copy pasting without having to read or remember anything.  Entire books and traveling guru’s (even more irritating versions of me) are dedicated and revered because they give institutions advice as to what they “should” be doing if they really want to be down with the social media thing.

We have lost and are now at risk of losing even more when it comes to real content, genuine thought, and meaningful understanding. When it is more important that you have a facebook page than it is to actually researching and writing articles; when its more important you go viral than actually capture the war criminal your video was about; when its more of a priority that your facebook page have lots of likes instead of real debate and discussion; that is the point where the world of journalism and media is proudly wrapped in a fog of stupidity.  One where trends and expert tips are given way more credence than they deserve, and where original content  is left in the dust.  Somewhere along the line we stopped being original and authentic, and we became apostles of that iconic blue masthead that says “this is what matters, not your hard work or your unique individual creations, but your ability to do exactly as we say you should. Why? Because we have the numbers. And in today’s publishing/business world, numbers trump humanity. Over and over again.

(yes I realize you’re likely reading this from within facebook, but I look forward to after the rebellion, when even less of us will)

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ctrp428 News Cycles Turned Social Media Trends

Photo by NS Newsflash / Flickr

When social media rose up from what were thought to be the ashes of traditional media, there were high hopes for the new world that was to come. And as world events continue to unfold and these seemingly open forums continue to grow in importance, alot of old habits and trends continue to appear. What once was known as the 24 news cycle has not disappeared, but rather, it has spawned the world of trending topics and viral media.

What has this new media ecology meant for independent voices bringing original content about topics that have a significant influence on human well being around the world? Today on the podcast I lay down the framework for how the news cycle of the 80’s and 90’s, translates to the trending topics of 2012.

I’ll be speaking on this topic at Campus Party Berlin on August 25th.

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