Thursday, June 11, 2009

Web Two Point Woe

The instigation of this ramble was my having watched that awful morning show on Fox, id est one host of reasonable obsequity and 2 certifiably stupid, as in stupid, co-hosts. The good Senator Grassle from somewhere Twittered about Obama, specifically that the president hadn't ought to be gallivaunting around Paris when the country needs leadership. It was a ridiculous criticism because clearly Obama has been busy in his first months in the White House, and are your hands so work-dirtied Senator Grassle? Not, let me say, a big story.

The real story was that the senator used Twitter to broadcast his exasperation. Because, you know, Oprah said Hey, Peeps! I'm on Twitter!!!!!!!!, and that effort at product placement made Twitter worth talking about on television, thus a substantial commodity. And that is Web 2.0, a new sense of online community.

I have not gotten into Twitter a whole lot. I follow a number of funny/interesting people, Jesse Thorn of the podcast Jordan Jesse Go!, the three members of You Look Nice Today (who met thru Twitter), Rob Corddry, and a few others I just sort of fell to. I do not contribute often, just do not have the handle on that. I am not ragging on Twitter, it could be quite useful. I think the communities built upon it could become quickly lapsed, but that is just a guess.

Peter Ciccariello is the only poet type that I follow who makes a vigourous usage of Twitter. He posts links to articles and works online, including his own fine visual work (@ciccariello). That is a community effort, and not simply performance of the public directive. I do not want to say that there is no interest for writers and poets, my study and usage of Twitter, as I have indicated, is limited. Presumably the potential is there for a poetic Twitter community...

Ten years ago, listservs were immeasurably useful to me, as a way to connect to other writers. Beth and I met thru a listserv, and the Poetics list, at that time, was a way to read some zesty (at times) thinking re contemporary poetry, also to connect via backchannel to writers from afar. Having fallen into isolation, I found this to be a great opportunity, truly invigourating.

Alas, the Poetics list got old and wary. Stephen Vincent for one admirably continues to press the idea of community, the connection we hold as writers and poets, as well as citizens of a wider consideration. I think the machine is broken, now. That is okay, the world changes and new tools arise.

Other community tools...

Blogs started to become common 5 years ago, which is when I began using them. Oddly, there arose the sense that blog writing was somehow different from other writing. Many people use blogs as journals, which is to say public performances of their world view. This happens currently with some Twitter users. The medium does not require this usage. Those who look askance at blogs are not recognizing the basic tool. Blogs are websites, simple to use. In the early days, they developed communities, in which like-minded bloggers would refer back and forth. That self-reference got rather boggy, frankly, in a way similar to how some Twitterers get. A public Twitter replying to another reads, to the outsider, as a mere puzzle, just as blogs did. Community does not hold up in that way, too restrictive.

I believe in the possibility of the Internet. I think, however, that the pressure on the various tools is over-emphasized. By my augury, we will see a decline in Facebook because it is so consuming. It is fascinating that ex-classmates or co-workers, or whoever, can find you after so many years, and that you can work the network into a wide intimacy. Some of this network development is just counting coup but still. I do not feel all that attached to the writers with whom I am connected, not in the sense of a Facebook community. I have not given the effort needed, I admit. The vastness and busyness of the interface is too distracting. The promotional interest of Facebook itself, and of some of the denizens of the surface, amount to clutter. Would that that clutter could be delivered elsewhere, so that one could receive just content qua content.

How, the question occurs, can these tools deliver more of their communal possibly?