Category Archives: Conversations in Public

When Relations Become Contextual

Niche-based friendships – we already know they exist.

I have a girlfriend who’s a total foodie. Now, she’s not particularly health conscious or loves to cook – she simply loves to know everything about restaurants, worldly cuisine, and things like deals on produce. My theory is this: the reason she’s obsessed with food is because she’s obsessed with knowledge.

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Twitter And The Power Of Public Conversation

Ah, the things we’re doing at this very moment. Some of us are in the office, others are at home with the kids. Some of us are traveling on a bus or a plane, and others are reading in a cafe. Our actions become symmetric as we balance each another out, flowing seamlessly through our day-to-day actions in a steady stream of life.

As for me? I’m perched at my kitchen table on a late Sunday morning. NPR news is streaming to the stereo. The window is open and tentative sounds of spring drift in. I’m eating half a grapefruit and debating on pouring myself another cup of french press as I occasionally gaze out the window, debating going to yoga at some point later in the day.


“News. Coffee. Sunshine. Writing. Yoga soon. #SPRINGhasSPRUNG”

In certainly well over 140 characters you’ve gotten the gist that, well, I’m not doing much. And whether you take my general communicato with an extra shot of espresso or a whole lotta foam (likely the latter), we can acknowledge that Twitter grants us the ability to comment on our thoughts and actions freely and instinctively, as they occur.

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On Becoming A Self-Construct, Or, When I Turned Into a Fictional Character

Do you only review certain albums, books, and restaurants?

Are your tweets pre-meditated, eluding the entire point of Twitter?

Is it a realistic possibility that you’ll neglect to check in on Gowalla at CVS–but are relentlessly fighting for most visits at the Troubadour?

These days, it’s easy to post what we’re up to. It’s also easy to do it in real time and incorporate text, links, photos, and video. This makes it inevitable to tell the story of where we are, who we’re with and what we’ve been doing.

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The Book of Faces

It’s not only a page, it’s a press release. It’s a virtual book with tabbed chapters, a self-edited personal timeline of one’s easily admitted yet mostly circumstantial behavior. It’s a flag waving, a manifest, a carefully constructed sliver of reality. It’s closely watched and admired often  – a new media mirror of the everyday famous.

It’s contents are aggregated. The unique yet somehow familiar fingerprints are only so until they’re bucketed and sold to curators of cultural identification.

The things that engage us are collected, chopped and categorized, and we collectively become a deep well of data. We become distilled statistics to be pored over by bespeckled analysts seeking truth in numbers.

And it comes around full circle. The originality we’re so eager to share with others, our clever, well-groomed and spotless identities are not owned by us. They’re fed to us. What we’re so eager to share is picked up with equal amounts of vigor for the sake of understanding how to construct a social relevance and therefore sell us more of it.

The waving flag is meandering and commonplace, the manifest a generic prescription for belonging.

The gun rang out years ago to commence the never ending and cyclical popularity contest, the slow burn of self-actualization, the self-aggrandizing addiction of junkyard thoughts and intentional moments of being.

We grasp and quickly dismiss advertising, no longer insulted by it’s targeting. We don’t mind conspicuous marketing ploys so long as it allows us to write in blood on the internet and perhaps enjoy an open bar.

Part 7: The Messages We Receive

Imagine if each message in your inbox was an actual letter. Imagine, opening each letter and reading the pages every morning, during the course of the day – filing away some, sending on others.

How many of us get hundreds of e-mails a day? Can you imagine sorting through some one-hundred odd letters every day and night? No wonder we get bogged down.

The other evening I found myself perusing various feeds in Google reader. I also had two email programs open (work and personal). I was running iChat, Yahoo IM, G-mail chat, and Tweetie. Oh, and I was texting from my iPhone.

This common situation is infinite, part of a lifestyle that defines the ultimate interactive experience – the one we speculated about years ago while learning Microsoft Front Page and building interactive CD-ROM’s.

The baseline 1’s and 0’s of a 2-dimensional social destiny in the making.

Here within the Digital Age, the way we read is changing. We absorb information from various mediums creating a non-linear path of focus. Perhaps due to the multitude of interactive media available to us, we’re brief in how we consume content. We sample and browse, allowing the inevitable multi-tasking to occur.

It can be said that cumulatively, we’re actually reading more than ever.

So I’m wondering – does this new process, this newly adapted way of working through multitasking – affect the quality of our interpersonal communications? And what are the long-term effects of this?

Do we communicate in shorter amounts – but with more folks, in higher frequencies?

The interactive experience is rich. We have the real-time aspect of Twitter, the private element of chat. The social aspect of Facebook. Time delayed emails, character counts, garbled texts sent on-the-go.

It’s easier to reach folks more than ever. But is it confusing? Is it too much? Or is being networked 24/7 merely a lesson in brevity?

On a business level, this may not be a bad thing. We can cut to the chase.

But what about on a personal level? Where in time and space does all of this communication add up?

I wonder if it makes our relationships fluid and transparent – like with the prevalence of social networking we have the ability to see everyone’s business. Or, if it creates more obstacles through illusions of what we choose to share.

And, how can we get to know someone if we never slow down?

Maybe we need to slow down in general and become more present when we multi-task.  We can take the time to stop and chat with someone in person. We can stop needle dropping and enjoy an entire song or album. We can put 5 more minutes into that email.

Maybe we need to appreciate…Life. Or we may wake up one day with nothing but a bunch of intangible 1’s and 0’s.


Yes, People Still Read, but Now It’s Social –