New electronic ways to communicate and share one’s life with the world at large seem to be created every day. I largely fail to keep up with most of these: let’s face it I still think Pinterest is a degree of fascination with a transcendental number derived from the geometry of the circle.
The vast majority of my engagement with the world of social media (I’m still waiting for a ring) rests with this very blog. I suspect I am drawn to its more pedagogic format: you may like to imagine me in gown and mortar-board speaking from behind a desk on a raised dais. I do occasionally dabble in Twitter and Facebook, but mostly as an outlet for material too brief, too transient or of such poor quality than even I’d be embarrassed to make it into a post. This dabbling has been exacerbated by ownership of a mobile ‘phone which permits me to share such material when out-and-about: the ‘phone may be smart, but the operator is as limited as ever.
Twitter seems to me like a one-to-many version of the old SMS text, though does not seem to have acquired the same degree of vowel elision. Of course, trying to fit your message into a minimum number of characters is nothing new. The telegram, and I assume the telegraph before it, encouraged brevity – though, I’m not aware of a 19th Century version of txt-spk (however, I am extrapolating from the work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, so am willing to be proven wrong. STOP).
Even in the more recent past when I started work, email (if it existed at all) was only available to members of CERN or DARPA. Fax had been invented, but was thought of as fearfully expensive, so any need for rapid, text communication in the office was handled by Telex. Telex only allowed capital letters and almost no special characters (so, for example, the £-symbol was rendered as GBP or BPS) and you were charged by the letter, so the incentive was to keep ones natural loquacity in check . Once again, little use was made of abbreviations back in my telex days – text-speak would definitely have saved money, though may have confused the foreign distributors who were the normal recipients of my terse communiqués. Hard to believe I know, but when I first started work – after three years of pure mathematics – my writing was extremely short and to-the-point, verging on the career-limiting when used in memo form. I do wonder if my subsequent writing “career” (including GofaDM) is some sort of overcompensation?
Be that as it may, this post was supposed to be about Twitter – and my less than competent use thereof. Readers who have glimpsed Condensity will have seen my occasional use of the Tweet – these are cast out into an uncaring world and I think nothing more about them (certainly, there is not even the briefest pause to consider the suffering they may cause). Earlier in the week, my clumsy fingers working in conjunction with a soi-disant smartphone brought up a previously unfamiliar part of the Twitter “app”. This revealed that two people, neither followers of my Twitter “feed” (though, there is little nourishment available at that particular electronic teat) nor known to the author, had replied – and both to the same Tweet! I have, inadvertently, ignored this response from the world beyond Fish Towers for several weeks – and feel this probably represents appalling Twitter etiquette. Where is the DeBrett’s for the modern social media whore? In the world of near-instantaneous communication, I am operating like the mail before Thomas Telford (or worse). Can the situation be salvaged?
Both response were positive reactions to my idea for an android private detective, A.I.P.I. – though I can no longer remember what prompted this particular thought – and can only guess as to how they stumbled across it given my tendency to eschew the hashtag. Also, in Twitter-space, I have a stalled Twitter novel to complete and this too involves a gumshoe. Could there be an opportunity here to weld these two ideas together into a winning format? Let’s face it, if there is one format the world needs more of it’s detective fiction (well, that and talent, cookery, property and antiques-based TV programming) and I owe it to the fans to reveal what that delivery contains… (oh yes, I do know – though what happens thereafter is a little nebulous).