CliveThompson - Tweets&Texts Help In-depth Analysis Notes

Clive Thompson, How Tweets and Texts Nurture In-Depth Analysis

-told that Inet destroyed people's patience for long, well-thought-out arguments.
-2day, conversations = text mssges, tweets, status updates.
-small, short and flooded with these.
-SOOOOOOO, we don't wanna read/create slower, reasoned contemplation.
-shoulda supported this w/ some references - if oftn told this, then there should be lotsa examples.
-'ascendant discussions' - prove it - reference.
-maybe mass media, TV/radio, done more to cause this.

-author disagrees w/ this.
-says torrent of short-form thinking is catalyst for more long-form meditation.
-when newsworthy happens today, get flood of status updates.
-short takes
-'half-baked' & gossipy
-may not be all true
-not intended to be carefully constructed
-this is society chewing over event
-forms quick impression of 'What it All Means.'

-opposite of this is long take.
-deeply considered report/analysis
-takes weeks, months, years to produce.
-in past, only tradit'nal media delivered
-magazines, documentaries.
-NOW, some of most in-depth stuff is from academic and/or business people doing big blog essays.
-<ex> - Dexter fans.
-<ex> -Pew Charitable Trusts w/ exhaustively researched reports on American life.

-long take thrives on long tail.
-tweets outdated in minutes.
-quality long take holds value for years.
-in 90's - magazine articles vanish after leave newsstand.
-now - pieces are online.
-people can read long after written and still comment.

-middle take - big loser.
-was what weekly period'cals offered.
-Time, Newsweek.
-report and essay created few days after major event
-also threw in a little analysis.
-problem w/ them:
-not fast enough to be conversation.
-not slow enough to be in-depth.
-Inet shows how this kinda thinking not satisfying.

-trend changes blogging:
-in past, fav blogs were middle takes.
-link w/ coupla sentences of comments.
-updated coupla times per day.
-THEN, Twitter arrives.
-bloggers blogging less often.
-blogs become lots longer essays
-blogs become more-in-depth essays
-WHY?:
-small stuff saved for Twitter.
-only blog when something big to say.
-readers prefer this.
-survey shows that most pop blog posts are longest ones - 1600 words.

-SO, reading tools changing cuz more long takes:
-Arc90 releases Readability - app that upts website text into clean, ad-ree column down center of screen.
-so no distractions for long reads.
-now Apple puts it in Safari browser.
-iPad criticized - only consumption.
-that's whole point - perfect for reading long takes.
-Instapaper - app that time-shifts online stuff for later reading
-for reading when ready to be attentive.

-although reports to contrary - we pay attention.
-talk a lot
-then dive deep.


My Thoughts:

-My thoughts: Thompson doesn't do much to support claims that we're told that the Internet destroys people's patience for in-depth, well-thought-out arguments. (This support would have made this an in-depth, well-thought-out argument). If we're "often" told this, then there should plenty of examples from which to draw. His idea of 'newsworthy' and his first two examples could indicate that this lack of patience could be due to other, deeper reasons such as our society's priorities. Brett Favre's wins/losses is his leading example with a Brazilian election run-off ending his list.

Are our 'ascendant discussions' truly texts, tweets and status updates? Again, some supporting references would have done much to lend credability to Thompson's claims. Perhaps it is a personal failing on my part. As one of many who deal with an attention deficit, I find the barrage of texts and tweets to be a frustrating flood through which I cannot possibly wade. The Internet is a wall of words and opinions that assaults one with unsupported claims, far too much drivel, and opinions of opinions of opinions of opinions… It creates, not simply a wall, but an impossible obstacle to me.

Although Thompson has apparently authored an example of the now defunct middle-take, some of his ideas, (the ones for which he provides examples/references), I believe, are accurate and insightful. What is more dissatisfying than those middle-take articles that appear in Time and Newsweek? In my experience, the typical write-up did report the news of a major event as any newspaper would do, but the commentaries served to raise more questions than they answered, and there was typically just enough analysis/commentary to scare the shit out of the reader while leaving them with, at best, a foggy/unclear idea of the event.

Indeed, the Internet has demonstrated the public's distaste for these dilute attempts to provide information of important events and to give some clarity regarding the context of them. Perhaps the Internet has also done something to demonstrate the public's distaste for the gatekeeping that is obvious in the mass media platforms that include Time and Newsweek as Rettberg discusses in Chapter 4 of her blogging textbook. This would suggest that any attempts by entities like Time and Newsweek to provide news of major events along with relevant commentary and analysis would be conceived in defeat. The views/philosphies provided by these mass media giants are tightly reined. Other points-of-view/perspectives, some valuable and others not, are definitely worth consideration, and it is the Internet that provides a way to publish them. Granted, there are usually too damn many of these, and perhaps it's safer to have too many than too few.

Thompson believes that the observed trend is that we use the technologies/venues of the text and the tweet for the small stuff. We use it to chew on events. The in-depth discussions are reserved for blogs - long blogs that apparently do justice to the topics they discuss. Although he isn't specific as to exactly what survey reveals this, Thompson does support this point by discussing how these longer blogs are the most popular posts. New software developments that lend themselves to reading these longer discussions are in demand, so much so that one of them, Instapaper, gained nearly a million users without doing much advertising.

I realize that Clive Thompson has a finger to the pulse where I do not. Some of his points are unsupported and without relevant references. Despite this, I believe his discussion of these trends and the idea that social media technology has served to encourage in-depth thinking, in-depth arguing, and in-depth discussions is insightful. Texts, tweets, and status updates provide a venue for the initial reactions to news events and the inevitable yammers that follow in their wake. This separates out this necessary reaction to the news, and it clears the way for the well-thought-out arguments and in-depth discussions to take place in the form of longer blog posts and essays.