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Twitter as Heraclitean War Machine
 

Twitter as Heraclitean War Machine

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"Twitter as Heraclitean War Machine: Real-time Revolutions and Aggregating Utopian Flows." 14th Rhetoric Society of America Biennial Conference. Minneapolis, MN. May 2010.

"Twitter as Heraclitean War Machine: Real-time Revolutions and Aggregating Utopian Flows." 14th Rhetoric Society of America Biennial Conference. Minneapolis, MN. May 2010.

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  • Always on, always something new … always flowing … every moment of everyday it is a river of potential relevant information flowing past ….
  • 75 million users world wide and counting since beginning in 2006
  • 75 million users world wide and counting since beginning in 2006
  • Wyclef Jean tweeted for donations … text 90999 to contribute to Haiti relief and millions responded
  • Wyclef Jean tweeted for donations … text 90999 to contribute to Haiti relief and millions responded
  • Paradoxes and opposite sensesAnachronistic desires and fleeting effectsFLOW, FLOW, FLOW, FLOW … always on, always changing, out of anybodies control
  • Always on, always something new … always flowing … every moment of everyday it is a river of potential relevant information flowing past ….
  • Always on, always something new … always flowing … every moment of everyday it is a river of potential relevant information flowing past ….
  • But on Twitter, hashtags can live that entire lifecycle in the course of a day or two. A news story breaks, and competing hashtags vie for dominance. Then a few influential folks adopt the same one. Suddenly the conversation coalesces around it, the term trends, the spammers start using it, and then the conversation peters out as we move on to the next topic.
  • It is a curious paradox of our contemporary real-time revolutions: the division, decentralization, and privatization of power may weaken the historical form of the individual agent, yet may also make collective and discontinuous forms of protest, opinion, and aggregating desire increasingly relevant and effective forces for social change.  Our lives, online and off, have become so many flows which can be aggregated, redirected, and redeployed in a multiplicity of increasingly easy-to-use ways.   As a war machine of rhetorical practice, Twitter cuts into, divides, and fragments the narratives of our lives into increments, 140 character or less.  However, it also provides the means for creatively reinventing possibilities for living which traverse and interrupt traditional terms and lines of organization.  Ultimately, Twitter is revolutionary, Utopian, and effective precisely because of the superficial and distributed forms of agency and communication it affords. 

Twitter as Heraclitean War Machine Twitter as Heraclitean War Machine Presentation Transcript

  • Twitter as Heraclitean War Machine:
    Real Time Revolutions and Aggregating Utopian Flows
  • By Abram Anders
    University of Minnesota Duluth
    adanders@d.umn.edu
    RSA May 2010
  • “You use names for things as though they rigidly, persistently endured; yet even the stream into which you step a second time is not the one you stepped into before.”
    -RT @Nietzsche: @Heraclitus
    Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks
  • “Everything forever has its opposite along with it.”
    -RT @Nietzsche: @Heraclitus
    Ibid
  • Twitter is …
    A social-networking service
    A micro-blogging platform
    An infrastructure for over 100,000 other services and applications
  • Twitter users can …
    “Tweet” a post of 140 characters or more
    Post links to web-sites and files
    “Retweet” (RT) other users’ posts
    Directly mention other users (@username)
    Discuss topics with hashtags (#sometopic)
    “Follow” other users’ posts
  • “I’ve come to understand that the real value of the service is listening to a wired collective voice … Twitter can be overwhelming, but think of it as a river of data rushing past that I dip a cup into every once in a while. Much of what I need to know is in that cup …”
    -RT @DavidCarrNY Times 1-1-10
  • Twitter is …
  • Revolutionary!
    Explosive user growth
    Ubiquitous feature adoption
    Inaugurated real-time web
  • Revolution?
  • “Every time I hear about Twitter I want to yell Stop. The notion of sending and getting brief updates to and from dozens or thousands of people every few minutes is an image from information hell …”
  • “… I’m told that Twitter is a river into which I can dip my cup whenever I want. But that supposes we’re all kneeling on the banks. In fact, if you’re at all like me, you’re trying to keep your footing out in midstream, with the water level always dangerously close to your nostrils.”
    -RT @GeorgePackerNewYorker1-29-10
  • “The everlasting and exclusive coming-to-be, the impermanence of everything actual, which constantly acts and comes-to-be but never is, as Heraclitus teaches it, is a terrible and paralyzing thought …”
  • “… Its impact … can most nearly be likened to the sensation during an earthquake when one loses one’s familiar confidence in a firmly grounded earth.”
    -RT @Nietzsche
    PhilTragAgeGreeks
  • Aggregating
  • Utopian
  • Flows
  • “[Heraclitus] vision has been locked onto two sorts of considerations: eternal motion and the negation of all duration and persistence in the world.”
    -RT @Nietzsche
    The Pre-Platonic Philosophers
  • The Twitter Machine
    Real-time flows produce a rigorous unorder
    (negation of duration/persistence)
    Holds an open space or stages the commons
    (flat, non-reciprocal architecture;
    aggregating, ever-flowing movement)
  • Twitter as War Machine
    Social Media and Twitter
    Collective Agency
    Transparency of Purpose
    Exigence in Common
  • Opposites Together
    Nomads v State
    Twitter v Facebook
    Chance/Necessity
  • “Wisdom is one—to know the intelligence by which all things are steered through all things.”
    -RT @Nietzsche
    The Pre-Platonic Philosophers
  • It is a curious paradox of our contemporary real-time revolutions: the division, decentralization, and privatization of power may weaken the historical form of the individual agent, yet may also make collective and discontinuous forms of protest, opinion, and aggregating desire increasingly relevant and effective forces for social change.
  • Our lives, online and off, have become so many flows which can be aggregated, redirected, and redeployed in a multiplicity of increasingly easy-to-use ways.  
  • As a war machine of rhetorical practice, Twitter cuts into, divides, and fragments the narratives of our lives into increments, 140 character or less. 
  • However, it also provides the means for creatively reinventing possibilities for living which traverse and interrupt traditional terms and lines of organization.
  • Ultimately, Twitter is revolutionary, Utopian, and effective precisely because of the superficial and distributed forms of agency and communication it affords.