Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Module Four- Twitter is only part of the story

Reading Buttry’s praise about the live tweeting of the hysterectomy reminded me of a show I used to watch in the late 1980s, it was called The Operation, I think, and you could watch a compressed, edited version of all kinds of operations. I remember watching a brain surgery where the person had to be awake, it was mind bending. Live tweeting a surgery is probably just as accurate in terms of production- I’m sure the hospital isn’t going to tweet things like “whoops, just cut the wrong blood vessel, stitching now,” or “robot stalled because nurse tripped on power cord,” so there has to be a certain amount of fiction in the process. I agree that waiting to find out how your loved one is doing in surgery is nerve wracking, but surely there must be a better use of resources to keep the family informed than live tweeting it- will every operating theatre have a social media person to tweet how the surgery is going? Hopefully the surgeons can be free to concentrate on the patient. If someone is curious about the procedure, and not queasy, there are many videos on YouTube you can watch to find out about it, including the video of a surgery in the same hospital, by presumably the same robots.

Smith lays into Jonathan Franzen and his views on Twitter, and I have to say I can agree with him on many points. I also don’t agree with her that you have to participate in Twitter to understand it, or to speak out on how you think it will affect your industry. That’s like saying I don’t fully understand smoking’s health risks because I don’t smoke. Authors have to promote their work, or they don’t sell books. If they don’t sell books, they are people with day jobs who write at night when they have time. Why wouldn’t they join Twitter if it could help them create a bigger audience for their work? And why can’t they be creative in different ways? They are creative people and as such should be able to experiment with what a story looks like to them. Will Salman Rushdie stop writing novels because of Twitter? Doubtful.

I also took exception to her point “even if Twitter was intentionally designed for advertising purposes… that still does not sum up or circumscribe the ways that ordinary inhabitants of this city of language are choosing to express themselves.” The platform does effect the ways people create because it is limited in so many ways, what people see, what is trending, how the bots encourage connections, because the business model is to make money on advertising. Any creativity that happens on Twitter is in spite of its design and not because of it.

King’s article in Fast Company probably came the closest to the way I feel about Twitter fiction- it’s an experiment. No one is writing a novel 140 characters long. They probably aren’t writing it 140 characters at a time either. More likely, they are writing it all down, somewhere else, and then using Twitter as a broadcasting/publishing platform. Teju Cole’s Seven Short Stories About Drones project really seemed like short stories, they were so vivid. Here's a sample: 

It's pretty clear what he is trying to say there, but it leaves me wanting more of the story, and that’s where Twitter's format is lacking for me. 

Instead, I believe Twitter's strength is telling a story while it’s happening, like the earthquake we had in Vancouver- people were tweeting their experiences in real time and we were telling a collective story for the world.  


Buttry, S. (August 2009). "Riveting Twitter Narrative of Robotic Surgery at St. Luke's” Retrieved on January 26, 2016 from: https://stevebuttry.wordpress.com/2009/08/31/riveting-twitter-narrative-of-robotic-surgery-at-st-lukes/

King, R. J. (2013). "How Twitter is Reshaping the Future of Storytelling,” Retrieved January 26, 2016 from http://www.fastcoexist.com/1682122/how-twitter-is-reshaping-the-future-of-storytelling

Smith, A. (October 2013). "Literary Parkour: @Hourse_ebooks, Jonathan Franzen and the Rise of Twitter Fiction,” Grandland, Retrieved January 26, 2016 from: http://grantland.com/hollywood-prospectus/literary-parkour-horse_ebooks-jonathan-franzen-and-the-rise-of-twitter-fiction/

No comments:

Post a Comment