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December 29, 2010

Philosopher and writer Alain de Botton's tweets are some of the most interesting around as he explores the idea of an aphorism in 140 character messages

I’ve been having a bit of fun on twitter lately and finding it pretty interesting.   I was at a short talk by Dan Pallota and they introduced it by saying that Dan said if we wanted to tweet about what we were doing, the hashtag was dpyvr – I was charmed.   What’s a hashtag, I wanted to know.  It’s a way of alerting others to a shared topic of interest by using the hash symbol before the topic, like this: #dpvyr    I really wanted to start off a workshop by telling people with a hashtag!   I have to say I’m a bit late to twitter, which is essentially a way to send out a 140 character message to a selected group of followers, or to follow a selected group, although your message also goes out to the world.   Conversely, you can message a select person by using the @ symbol and their username.

A while later, we were meeting friends downtown at a holiday event and Jules, not even knowing this, sent out a tweet saying that there was a fire at the event, with a photo of the fire as it was happening!   One of the things twitter tracks is what’s “trending” – so almost immediately if there’s a big story out there you know what’s happening.   On the other hand, people use tweets to send out links to things that are really interesting – so it’s a quick way of assessing what’s out there that you might want to spend time on as well.   And some people just say interesting things, like Alain de Botton (twitter alaindebotton) the philosopher and writer, who has been experimenting with the use of twitter as a way of creating and sending out aphorisms – wise and pithy little remarks about almost anything to make you stop and think.   For example, the self-reflective,”How many writers get tripped up by the unhelpful assumption that the natural genre is the novel rather than the essay or aphorism” (this from a writer who has conquered every form) or,  “Schopenhauer: the task of philosophy is to turn tears into knowledge. And for me, a sigh into a tweet.”  Of course, I also get a kick out of people like Dolly Parton, who tweeted, “Find out who you are, and do it on purpose.”   I’m bored by people trying to sell me things, but it’s the work of a moment to get rid of them.   On the other hand, I’d like to have more time for art and things related to art, so it’s great to get little snippets from various galleries and museums.

Someone said that facebook is a way to connect with people you know, but twitter is a way to connect with people you wish you knew.    If you want to check out Spectrum’s twitter page, go here.    To follow Spectrum, search on twitter SSCLSpectrum and for the 101 Friends project, 101FriendsBC.   For my own personal account, imagineacirle.   Jules is at julesandrebrown and ernie is ejbaatz.

You can also set up twitter so that your tweets become Facebook postings, and connect it to wordpress as well (every published article in this blog becomes a tweet and then a FB status update).   You can use an account application like “tweetdeck” to update your status in any number of twitter and facebook accounts.   In terms of social networks, it has some possibilities for reminding each other that we are doing something, or need something, or are open to connecting.

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