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« Into the Fog of the Syrian Civil War (John Ballard) | Main | Economics Lesson (John Ballard) »

September 09, 2012


A long overdue welcome, John, from one of more ordinarily lurking, commenting authors at AB. It's great having you on board. Please recognize that my silence is more likely a function of a substantial level of ignorance of the topic at hand, and not a lack of interest in the post. That's saying a lot, too, because even more than a modicum of ignorance hasn't discouraged me from commenting in the past. So, scattered comments here.

Re: #uppers, see James Fallows' post from yesterday regarding Obama's blah speech. The first two paragraphs present the reciprocal analysis set forth in Ruthven's tweet. But what's "upper" got to do with it? I'm missing the connection...

I truly thought the socks bit was going to proceed thus: "A third of the world's socks are [here it comes...] missing." I know mine are.

Technology, particularly digital and computing technology, is fascinating, but I can't get too excited about Twitter. For one thing, I'm deeply resentful of the network effect.

Thanks for the welcome and sentiments. All the time I've been blogging (since 2004) my aim has never been to attract many readers. I would rather have a handful who can think and occasionally give feedback than swarms of skimmers who rarely stop to think about what they read. From what I've seen Ruchira has assembled an unusually smart, reflective community of contributors and readers which am very pleased to join.

FWIW this post was an experiment and will not be the start of a trend. For readers not conversant with the many buzzwords, abbreviations and the use of hashtags the medium is too arcane to appreciate. Your puzzlement with "#uppers" is a good example. The unspoken message is that the links and comments are not "downers," if you remember the old slang expressions derived from the drug culture. And besides, one person's upper may be another one's downer, and the intent may also be sarcastic which flips the meaning to be even more opaque.

Those with Twitter accounts vary from teeny-boppers to Congressmen and companies large and small. In my case I "follow" just over a hundred others, mostly journalists and activists, which furnish me with a real-time news feed. It's a kind of personal ticker-tape with links. But that is by no means the only application.

Most people with Twitter accounts have phones and Twitter is a way of texting a whole bunch of people at one time (as long as the message is 140 or fewer characters and spaces. I don't have a portable phone and do all my Internet activities from a PC at home, including following and using my Twitter account. A few weeks ago my wife was complaining that Direct TV had stopped a bunch of kids channels in some kind of conflict with another provider or something. So I sent a Tweet to @DirectTV saying we were considering going to another provider cuz our grandchildren couldn't see their favorite channels. i received a personal reply by Twitter within 90 minutes reassuring me that they would soon have the matter resolved and our grandchildren would again be able to watch their favorite shows. So even an outfit as big as Direct TV has real people on the job 24/7 whose job description includes responding to Twitter messages quickly in the interest of good public relations and customer service.

One more bit of Twitter trivia -- the number of Twitter messages is breathtaking. Like You Tube videos which are being downloaded at some impossible to imagine rate (a year of watching per day? I dunno.) Twitter messages run to the thousands per minute. A recent record was set by the president's DNC speech at 43,000+ in one minute.

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