Assimilated by the Borg: Twitter Dept.

Ok.  So I have the great pleasure of welcoming Carl Zimmer to my class in the Graduate Program in Science Writing this last Wednesday.

So we have a really interesting discussion along two axes:  for one. the experience of discovering and then developing a focus within science writing (how Carl went from a humanities education at Yale to being so deeply immersed in the present currents and history of biology that he’s writing textbooks in the field now).

For the other:  what we all need to do to come to grips with the incredibly rapid changes in the types of media within which he, my students, and lagging behind, my tongue hanging out, me too are all trying to communicate.

In that context I admit that I do not Twitter.  I mutter the usual shibboleths — who wants to know what I had for breakfast? (A buckwheat waffle, a couple of bites of bialy, and to complete the cultural confusion, some bacon — but you never heard any of that here.)

Carl laughs me out of my seat.  He points out that he tweeted his visit to my class, and received in return a couple of requests to pass on hellos from blogospheric friends I haven’t seen since January (hello back, Dave); that a growing audience exists to feed him almost real time reactions to questions; that whatever I might think there is a hierarchy of information, and if I ignore the swift and the short, then I lose my chance to talk to people in conversations each party values….

And then my students piled on, not needing any sophisticated argument to point out that I am simply a fossil — and worse, one petrified by choice.

And so, for my sins or perhaps for yours, I can now be found on Twitter as TomLevenson.  It’s been fun, at least so far (eight tweets in).  I’ll do my best to keep the content-to-phatic communication ratio appropriate.

And anyway, as someone who described the results of a conversation with my agent and my newly acquiring editor for my Newton book thusly:  “I was strongly enjoined to constrain my garrulousness,” the 140 character straitjacket might not be the worst discipline to accept.

Image:  Jules Pascin, “Café Scene.”

Explore posts in the same categories: blogospheric tail chasing, housekeeping

5 Comments on “Assimilated by the Borg: Twitter Dept.”

  1. Spiv Says:

    I think twitter, on that level anyway, helps to break down that wall of celebrity that so many try to maintain. This can be a good thing.

    Don’t know what else to say about it; I’ve managed to sink back into obscurity to all but a handful of people over the years, on purpose for the most part. My twitter account is fairly anonymous; viewed only by a couple of close friends. It’s basically a personal chat between a small group, so it functions completely differently than yours or Zimmer’s.

    I was pretty sure that once the republican party embraced its existence it was officially old news. So I’m afraid rather than prove your un-fossil-ness you’ve instead positioned yourself as having just discovered a “cellular telegraph.” Not that I have any idea what the next cool-guy place to be is. I’m sure we’ll soon see you partying it up in the local dance club next to Paris Hilton. You do get her tweets sent directly to your i-phone, right?

    • Tom Says:

      Hey Spiv:

      Alas — I whiffed on my last phone purchase; stuck w. a deeply uncool crackberry.

      Thus I iphone only this summer, at which point everyone else’s Androids will be performing unconscionable acts on electric sheep.

  2. Dave Munger Says:

    What a pony-express way for my greeting to get to you, Tom. And of course, I found your return of my greeting first via Chad Orzel — such are the bizarre connections we share in our social-networked world!

    • Tom Says:

      And with pleasure back at you Dave. I must now go pay my respects to Chad for such a gracious intermediation.

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