Tuesday, June 23, 2009

James Joyce at the speed of Twitter

I dislike Twitter and not for any original reasons.

Most people cannot communicate anything worthwhile in 140 characters; and almost no one can do it several times throughout the day.

Yet that is what Twitter is designed to do. It broadcasts our truncated (often inane) thoughts and millions of people follow it because... well, I guess you need something to do at your desk when you’re not working. (I write blogs and read McSweeney’s.)

Ian Blogost also doesn’t like Twitter for the obvious reasons:

For me, Twitter represents the worst trends in the new internet culture. It purports to allow people to “communicate” in new ways, a promise that mostly creates new obligation and infatuation to stay “up to date” and “connected.” In the world of Twitter, you (and me, and everyone) pay constant, tiny homage to a new gimmickry.

But instead of just complaining about it (like me,) he has decided to do something creative with it.

He and Ian McCarthy have found, if nothing else, a creative use for Twitter.

They re-enacted the tenth chapter of James Joyce’s Ulysses, “Wandering Rocks,” using Twitter. They created pages for several of the book’s character and created a program that had them interact. They also timed it to coincide with Bloomsday, June 16, the day in which the activities of Ulysses are said to take place.

The Ians’ intent: (to) comment on Twitter as a social force and also attempt to use the service in a culturally interesting way.

The Ians’ Twitter idea is not wholly without precedent. Someone thought it would be clever to tweet Taming of the Shrew. Someone else has also reserved twitHamlet.

Other people have used Facebook to re-enact Pride and Prejudice.

While all of these ideas are clever, I don’t know if they add anything to Ulysses or Pride and Prejudice. I’m hoping that someone takes it upon him or herself to do an entirely original piece of art with Twitter or Facebook. (Of course, that person won’t be me. I don’t tweet and only time I use my Facebook page to glean info on the suspects about whom I write.)

-Jason Lea, JLea@News-Herald.com

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