RT @Twitter #attention-whore SMH frontseat throws popcorns FML awesome trailers tbh can't wait for the opening credits OMG
Who would have thought that a verbatim transcript of all mundane fleeting mindless telephone conversations would be a popular sensation? Twitter is a pretty close approximation. We're back to the telegraph and yet it passes as a technological breakthrough just because it's available on a portable device.
What are you going to do with that many instantaneous informations? Does it change your life instantaneously? Does it make you think faster? Or does it just distract the boredom of being left alone with your own thoughts? Why so hurried?
What did the "Twitter revolution" bring us? The minutiae of Ashton Kutcher and Larry King? News from Iran? Who still cares about Iranian Tweets today? They are still being oppressed and repressed by a totalitarian regime though... Who cares? Look Justin Bieber just bumped his head on a door.
I'm concerned about the inflated fad around these new gadgets that turn people into mindless addicted users rather than savvy operators. I'm also worried that by speaking up against this universally embraced sensation, I'm crossing the fence to the camp of grumpy conservatives who oppose every new technology without understanding it because they are out of the loop... I wouldn't want to be part of the same detractors that demonized the arrival of the Web 2.0. I defended the blogosphere back then (although I wasn't an early adopter, because I preferred the communality of online forums) against the old traditionalists attached to the paper paradigm.
I really don't mind the fanaticism of the new teens for this technology that belongs to their generation. This social-networking is as valid for society in general as anything else. A responsible usage makes it worthwhile for yourself and others.
The main problem is its misuse by journalists who need better tools than that. Instant news, moreover news bypassing the institutional pipes of official authorities, is great in itself. It's what people do with it, or don't do with it, that is bothersome, and should alert whoever cares for Culture.
However it is especially puerile for film critics to imagine they could use this word shredder other than for their private life. I'm not surprised though that the culture that supports capsule reviews, sound-bytes, blurbs, star-rating, top10 lists, and poster-quote whores would fall for an even more superficial way to share their stream-of-consciousness gut-impressions on whatever screens in front of their eyes.
The difference between propagating devices and content providers
Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Blogs, Podcasts, RSS feeds, phones, TV are tools. They are propagating devices, empty pipes for the eventual circulation of informations. If you don't feed them with quality culture, they won't make quality cultural tools. "Garbage in = garbage out" say the computer nerds. And linking to "quality content" doesn't necessarily make it a pertinent usage. Quoting Shakespeare or Deleuze left and right is not enough, it ought to be pertinent and thoughtful, in adequation with what you want to do with it.
Structurally limited to 140 characters, cluttered by tags and links, encoded in shorthands, filled with redundant informations repeated from elsewhere or truncated sources you are supposed to have read in another Tweet.
I already hate the idea to sum up a film in capsule reviews... because shortening critical content only brings forth generalities, summary judgements, vagueness and clichés. Some people think there is literary genius in being able to synthetize a 2 hours long film in 5 lines... Really? Must be a cynical joke.
All films being standardized to a digest under 100 words, limited to obvious plotpoints and unquestionable subjective impressions is the job of a bureaucratic dictionary, a disposable weekly movie guide, not the scrutiny of a meaningful film critic.
So I don't look at the cinephile community migrating from the blogosphere to a Twitter-only online presence with a hopeful eye. Given the deficiency of low-standard journalism they take model from in the "professional" media, the blogosphere is not going to up their contributions by playing ping-pong with reading lists that nobody reads, analyses, comprehends or commentates.
Movies take years in the making, from conception to distribution. Serious films require years of writing. Then months of rehearsal and shooting. And the long wait to get picked up for distribution. On the screen it is a wealth of aesthetic, narrative, socio-political, intertextual information to decipher and analyse, for a couple of hours...
What is so urgent about Twitting a micro-review on premiere screenings for breaking news? Does it make you feel important to reject or acclaim such hard-labor in the shortest possible way, to spread hasty rumors to your "friends" before any thoughtful analysis?
Tweeting and spontaneous reactions are for the general audience, the layman, the ignorants who believe that sharing their favourite taste and immediate impressions from the top of their heads gives meaning to their place in society...
The linkers (I link therefore I am) even delude themselves in thinking that "linking" becomes an expression of power, like the circulation of a print publisher, the generosity of letting their minions (or followers) know about something they recommend. Conversly, not linking, gives a sense of anal retentive deprivation, a denial of "fame", a suppression of readership from their followers (now counting as a "cultural capital" as Bourdieu would say).
Truffaut was reporting a Hollywood saying "everyone has two jobs, their own and film critic", now this should be changed to "everyone thinks they are a newscast channel, and the world is waiting for their release of information at every second of the day"...
- Unplug! (June 2010)
- The NYT bans the word 'Tweet' (June 2010)
- "The Shallows. What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains" by Nicholas Carr, 2010
- "Deficient subjectivity" (Screenville, Nov 2009)
- "I never intended for Twitter to be useful" (The Onion, 24 June 2009) parody
- "Is Google making us stupid?" by Nicholas Carr (The Atlantic, Jul 2008)