Friday, 21 October 2011

Down with Twitters, Or the Fracturing of Time and Culture

These days I don't seem to have enough time to do everything I want or need to do. Short cuts look quite attractive, in fact. But there is one that I wouldn't recommend to anybody--the twitterization of culture.

Last week we discussed Jane Eyre at one of the libraries where I lead discussions. It was a great evening, full of lively debate and sharp observations. And then I read the group part of the twitter version, taken from a rather funny book, Twitterature by Alexander Aciman and Emmet Rensin. The young authors promise the world's greatest book in 20 tweets or less. In the case of Jane Eyre, they've got the plot line down, but certainly there is nothing vaguely resembling the tone or the weight of the book.

The discussion participants laughed, but afterwards several of them commented about the injustice this kind of parody does to a work of substance.

Twittering--that is, reducing life to 150 characters or whatever--can only increase the splintering of our attention. Most things that are worth anything, from making good wine to raising competent human beings, take time. Jane Eyre is more than 400 pages in the edition I read. The story covers 10 years, and gives the reader both things to consider and an exciting story. Try to reduce that to something you can write with your thumbs.

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