Monthly Archives: January 2009

why twitter?



Many, many times I have asked myself what the hell twitter is actually for.

No one you know is interested in it. Your life is admirably succulent without it. Out of curiosity you inspect the main site – perhaps register an empty account – but there are no meaningful clues of any worth. You pull up a few random feeds, and stare blankly at the torrent of worthless bilge.

Executive summary:

  • At worst, for the passive user, it’s a cheap way to stalk feel close to a miniscule set of tech-savvy C-list celebrities.
  • At worst, for the active but pioneering microblogger, it’s a dispiriting void in which to fruitlessly drain your creative juice.
  • The real value only emerges – in a similar way to ‘real’ blogging – when a number of your own friends choose to take part, and you have a mutually interested audience.

Micro-what? STFU

I know. Microblogging is an ugly word but an old concept. It essentially means, lower your expectations. The nuggets here are, for the most part, throwaway comments. Or ideas without time to be developed. Think back to the early days of TF, when a youtube URL and a few acronyms (hmm, to LOL or not to LOL?) constituted a well-crafted post.

Twitter fills the yawning gap of time between TF posts. Sometimes you really do just have a sentence or two to say, and it’s worth ten seconds of someone else’s time.

Look, pussbook does this already

Kind of. Status updates get lost in a sea of sparkly froth. You’ve got hundreds of friends. You only really care about the daily spewings of a small subset.

So, this voyeurism angle. Who could I possibly care to read about?

Good question. As an example, let’s see whose lives I now peer into with freakish ease:

There’s a *nnrgh* reality TV aspect to this. I don’t truly benefit from knowing the details of Stephen Fry’s travels in New Zealand, or the hourly updates on the health of Neil Gaiman’s dog. It’s compelling nonetheless.

The word ‘twitter’ accurately skewers the banality of the medium. But banal events in the lives of those people you care about are important; they’re the fodder of conversations you aren’t having. With enough fleeting glimpses into someone’s life, you feel closer, wherever they are.

You can follow me, and the reliably deviant ms.bean. If you don’t have a twitter-ready telephone – which you will need to get the real addiction – you can also catch my dribbles just on the left there.


Bit of excitement round here from last night. A medium-sized jet airliner took off from LaGuardia (the tinkiest of NY’s three airports) and promptly at 1,000ft made feathery mincemeat out of a flock of birds. Apparently this is not great for the jet engines, which coughed flame, developed spinning Xs over their eyes and lit up all kinds of neat red lights in the cockpit.

The pilot dude is a war ace or something and mumbling obscenity about Baron von Richthofen, managed to glide the powerless plane politely around Manhattan – past my apartment – before dumping it in the river just next to the skatepark that I frequent in warmer months.

You can read things about it in guardianland and see the grubby-vision twitter pic that killed their servers overnight.

Clearly the pilot is to be commended for not killing everyone. I understand he has been granted an unlimited number of blowjobs within the tri-state area. The media coverage is amusing though in spunking the word ‘miracle’ around; as usual we can associate God’s will with the fact that everyone survived, but not presumably to the act of stuffing beaky engine-killers into the aircraft in the first place.

NYC polaroids 3

Now so firmly far from the sun, the cold air outside is a dead, permanent threat to ears and fingers. So you like to look at this old picture here. Taken in July, in the New York summer. Back when you were


just getting used to the heat. With relief you find yourself accustomed – finally – to the stifling invariance.

Before this summer, a hot crush of air meant being at your Gramps’s house, with his fuzzy blanket of a living room glowing constantly in the low 80s. Keeping his old bones moving. You get yourself a drink if you want it, son.

Or that feeling of stepping into warm air. For those like you from a temperate country, the inescapable association of being on holiday. Freedom from time and anxiety, cities and hills and waves and lakes and bodies to explore.



Or when drinking, a romantic vision of a limestone house in swampland. A lightly sweating stoic, a Hemingway, white linen and bronze liquid in sweating thick tumblers, bright light from a doorway or desklamp, pen or fingers poised to deliver something important through tobacco smoke. Sweat, lamps. The blur of fans. Distant night sounds. Stubble. Self-regard.

And not just the heat, but this new, real noise all along 22nd street. The anvil flood of sunlight crashes down into the trees, blasting green light from their veins and awakening a riot in the branches. Cicadas. The hot afternoon chorus pouring through your window, a wash of jagged noise, ten thousand knives shaken in a cement mixer. An encompassing racket with no evident source; just foliage, glaring and innocent. Jungle drums, smoke signals, beaten shields, out of sight. It could all be in your head, but for the way the sound echoes pinballing down the street.

On cooler nights, the tide of noise recedes to a single call, one timballing insomniac. Unlike the day’s constant call, this sound is intrusive. Chirrup, chirrup. Trying to sleep. Eyes closed, you try to use the noise as a percussion; in your mind’s ear, put a tune to the regular beat. To your dismay the wee fucker is the world’s worst soloist, first round and soundly in rhythm, then early, then hanging, lingering late.

Circadian rhythm, cicadian arhythm. You wish that words were sleep.