Twitter: Can trillions of Tweeting Twits be wrong?

I’ll be honest. I’ve never understood Twitter. It seems dumb.

I admit, I’ve got one, (making me dumb by association?) but it was for Uni. That’s right, Media made me get it, I swear.

I first signed up to see what all the fuss was about, and so I could understand my lectures. I followed a few things: CNN, the UN, Coldplay. All the important stuff. And then, I began to get followers. Complete randoms who would add me, and then, after realising I didn’t actually tweet, would quietly delete me. Weird. (I often get mistaken for Matthew Perry, no biggy.)

Since then I’ve managed to cut Twitter out of my password memory. But recently I’ve started again. For Net Comm, just to help stick my blog out there in the big World Wide Web. And while I’m still not a fan, I can’t help but wonder at how popular, and (apparently) useful, it’s become.

For one, look at the recent social media revolutions. Take the Iran election protests. Then the recent Arab Spring. Both instances where people have been using Twitter, amongst other social media, to circumvent government censorship of traditional media to great success. It seems the ‘140-characters-including-spaces’ is truly mightier than the sword.

Of course, being mindless and popular, it’s no surprise celebrities have jumped on the Twitter bandwagon. In fact, celebrities are the biggest twits of all; from Charlie Sheen, who hires someone to tweet for him (he’s probably too busy ‘winning’ with all his coke and pornstars), to Shaquille O’Neal, who recently announced his retirement from the NBA on Twitter.

That’s right, Shaq: 4 time NBA Championship winner, one of the greatest basketballers of his generation. A man loved by millions for his both his post-ups and his personality, and he retires with a measly 11 character tweet. He didn’t even use all of his precious 140. Arrogant.

And so it made me think. If you’re breaking news, you usually want people to hear about it. As many people as possible. Thus, for Shaq to tweet his retirement first; he’s either being a clown, or someone very smart and well paid told him to do so. In the latter more likely case, Twitter’s reach must not only be incredibly widespread, but in fact considered even more so than that of the mainstream media.

Could it be possible? If everyone is not only tweeting, but checking other people’s tweets, then I guess so. It’s a more succinct (and clearly effective) version of Facebook.

I’ve always thought Twitter was for Twits. But the world is changing. And if everyone is a Twit, then maybe it’s time to start Tweeting?

(Still confused as to why it’s so popular? Check this out)

So much net, so little time.

We can’t live without the Internet. It’s on phones, on laptops and, if you’re lucky enough, on your fridge. But how much net is too much? And what are we really using it for?

At the moment I, like thousands of Uni students around the state, am on SWOTVAC. That’s “Study With Out Teachers VACation” for those playing at home. I had big plans, in fact since week 3 I’ve been putting aside stuff to do, just waiting for one glorious week of 24/7 study …. that’s so far just turned out to be a three day YouTube and “Damn You Auto Correct” binge. Drat.

As my wrists begin to burn from my (apparently poorly ventilated) keyboard, I thought it best to consider what I was actually doing. After all, my excuse of Net Comm research can only last for so long.

The Internet has evolved from its original, and arguably more important and useful, purpose as a decentralized communications network capable of surviving a nuclear attack, into an online library of time wasting videos and blogs. Oh, and porn. Delightful.

Media scholars have long touted, and probably will continue to for a while, the potential of the Internet as the new public sphere. Promoting its ability to facilitate instant, international and truly democratic discussion; benefiting society through the development of brilliant ideas. With its lack of censorship, ease of use and global access, expectations of the Internet are by no means too lofty, and yet they have no where near been realised.

Is it the fault of society? It can hardly be the technology, since computers are just a bunch of circuits and ones & zeros at the end of the day. So it must be us, the users. With such a great tool at our disposal, why are we wasting it on “Keyboard Cat” and Perez Hilton. In this image conscious age, does anyone really care about democracy, the public sphere, or intellectual debate anymore? It would seem not. You only need to pick up a mainstream newspaper to see that sex and crime sell, that politics is only popular when it involves sex and crime, and that the only social issues discussed are, well, sex and crime. While revolutions and uprisings spring up trying to achieve democracy overseas, it seems that western democracies just want to read gossip on their iPads.

And the real question is how will we ever become interested in the more important things, when we’re too busy watching stupid (but brilliant) stuff like this?

(The first and one of the best videos from The Lonely Island. First aired on SNL.

HINT: It’s mirrored to avoid copyright infringement. Sneaky.)

Liberal democracy is resting on its laurels, we’re in a perpetual Lazy Sunday. Yet, ultimately it’s up to us. With so much to solve and so much at our disposal, maybe it’s time to log off YouTube and get back to work. A digital detox. For Uni and the world. For ourselves, and for our futures.

(But hey, while you’re here, check out this from the same guys. One of my favourites. Over 100 millions views. Well done democracy!)

Plundering Pirates or Digital Robin Hoods?

Pirates are thieves. Plain and simple. From Disney to Digital Rights Management, this is what we’ve been taught. Pirates steal the hard work of artists and distribute it for free, leaving them penniless and powerless in the face of an online epidemic.

But are we taking it too seriously?

There is a problem with depriving artists of remuneration for their hard work. Undoubtedly. And I in no way condone the theft of someone else’s work. Yet, often the losses of artists and corporations are exaggerated, and more importantly, it is undeniable that piracy does have itsĀ  benefits both for the wider community and the individual user.

Piracy is ultimately motivated by money (or more precisely, the lack of money), however, it also plays a much more important role in society. In fact, piracy forms an integral part of contemporary culture, or more precisely, the distribution and development of culture. Without pirates, many, if not the majority, of society would go largely unexposed to art, music and technology. All over something as trivial as money. Does this seem fair?

The extent to which someone can learn and participate in their culture shouldn’t be based on how much they are able to pay. In any case, isn’t educating the human collective more important than deepening the pockets of greedy celebs and corporations?

South Park sure thinks so. And I tend to agree.

After all, piracy’s not that bad is it?

Piracy's not stealing, it's piracy!

[Image: AttributionNoncommercial Some rights reserved by Travelin’ Librarian]