Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Exploring "The Social" in the Twitter Universe

There has indeed been a lot written about Twitter as of late. Fred Stutzman blogged incisively a couple of days ago about demographic paradigms dialectically tethered to Twitter, blogs, and many things social media. Since then the remapping of "the social" has been a point of mental occupation for me. Today, TechCrunch published a piece entitled "The Future of Twitter Visualized". In it M G Siegler provides links to some groovy charts forecasting possible futures for the popular service. Scenarios range from worldwide domination to swift acquisition by another tech player. The visuals are pretty neat and I recommend checking them out.

My point to all this is that in none of the scenarios did anyone argue that the new paradigm Twitter has ushered in will disappear (or lose influence/user preference). We,whether we use Twitter or not, now live in a context that conceptualizes communication, social relation, social access, and social identity way differently. In Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet, Sherry Turkle is recasting Fredric Jameson when she writes, "In simulation, identity can be fluid and multiple, a signifier no longer clearly points to a thing that is signified, and understanding is less likely to proceed through analysis than by navigation through virtual space" (p.49). Turkle's prescience is probably even astounding to her.

With the ubiquity/mobility of Internet access and the waning influence of traditional textual mediums, our social realities and identities are rapidly changing faster than Turkle or most anyone else could have imagined. What was previously abstracted, apprehended only through the best postmodern theory (like Jameson), is now material---made apparent in our daily practices and inscribed in the corporeal and the now sentient places we traverse.

No comments: