Day of Tweets | Year of Treats

[submitted to Humanist, May 1, 2020]


At your prompting and with the kind enticements of Elli Mylonas appearing at suitable intervals on Humanist, I have dipped a toe into the Twitter waters.

Things I learnt:

Twitter functions like an investment bank for social capital (likes, mentions, retweets, urls). It reminds me of Delphi Pools [1] especially as envisioned in the novel Shockwave Rider[2] by John Brunner.

And like many corners of the WWW, you can be recursive and search Twitter itself for Delphi Pools.

Very few people use the polling function (it is structured as an either/or input on a selected question). A parlour game but one sometimes worth playing if one conceives contraries as being good for cultivating taste (see Aristotle).

You don’t have to follow everyone that your followers are following — they can serve as filters and curate enticements from their own streams. And you don’t even have to sign up to Twitter — the good stuff will flow beyond the proprietary ecosystem — indeed I continue to exercise the option of lurking by examining tweets when not logged in (o the joys of multiple browsers with different caches!!) …

And things sometimes happen automagically, I am sure I saw this URL appear in the Twitter stream for Day of Digital Humanities 2020 but it’s not there when I crawl through the day’s tweets. I may have hallucinated seeing this in the Twitter feed … but I did read it on DDH 2020 and now on the blog it’s dated May 1, 2020 (and I thought I was the only one with a fine appreciation of the anachronistic : ))

[Any clarification how Claire Warwick’s blog post got associated with Twitter much obliged.]

As Claire Warwick writes “Today, as we DHers tweet each other about what we are up to, there will, necessarily, be variations on quite a narrow theme.” I would like to add that the tweets are there out in the world and we tweet in a fishbowl. We model as we explain.

It is perhaps ironic that I have been intending to read Shoshana Zuboff’s The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power since the beginning of March (2020) and at the end of April (2020) I committed myself to a day of tweeting a year (I intend to participate in next year’s festivities by retweeting a selection from this year’s stream (such is my learning curve — I put off practicing the gentle art of retweeting until 2021, polling in 2022?). I raise Zuboff for two reasons: the index has an entry for Twitter but no entry for Delphi method or pool; a passage from dust jacket blurb very much reminds me of Brunner’s novel:

Zuboff vividly brings to life the consequences as surveillance capitalism advances from Silicon Valley into every economic sector. Vast wealth and power are accumulated in ominous new “behavioral futures markets,” where predictions about our behavior are bought and sold, and the production of goods and services is subordinated to a new “means of behavioral modification.”

Behavioural modification cuts many ways. This takes me to the craft of the #hashtag and cross-pollination. I did not hesitate to “pollute” the #burningman stream with digital humanities content. Micro-micro marketing. I salute the digital humanists that are bending the bow by tweeting and making new musics. They have the potential to (re)shape culture.

And let me tell you tweeting is hard: it demands attention to detail and an acute sense of timing. And disciplined moderation since every tweet is its own rabbit hole. (All attributes cultivated by being an assiduous reader of Humanist and the non-twittering world).

Chapeau to the DH content producers and consumers, may your info flows spark joy.


And so for day 2780

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