Is Twitter the Death of Reading?

images.jpgJanuary was pretty much out of control so I should probably be thankful that I got to read a few books (some of them actually good) and at least try to keep the ACOR website up to date and maintain some semblance of a reading record in a constantly aborting database. Add to that the iPhone battery going south and I spent little time in my favorite coffee haunts reading and sipping Goat Bombs.

One thing that has taken up far to much of my time is Twitter. I still refuse to use most of the social platforms on the internet but for some reason I started getting my up-to-date news, or at least relevant gossip, from Twitter. But I am rapidly reaching the understanding that although Twitter may have some value, it will never compensate for the inordinate amount of time following tweets consume on any given day, newsworthy or not.

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Can You Answer the Question?

A very interesting and highly revealing piece by Paul Rosenberg published on Salon:

The Twitter thought experiment that exposes “pro-life” hypocrisy

download.jpgLast Monday, a tweetstorm evisceratng abortion foes went viral. Science fiction writer and comedian Patrick Tomlinson introduced it this way:

Whenever abortion comes up, I have a question I’ve been asking for ten years now of the “Life begins at Conception” crowd. In ten years, no one has EVER answered it honestly.

The question is as follows: Would you save one 5-year-old child from a burning building, or save 1,000 embryos. The point: No one actually thinks that embryos are the same as living children. But an entire movement is based on lying about it, and using that lie to manipulate people, in order to control women like slaves.

The entire article with links to the extensive twitterstorm is well worth reading over on Salon.

Analogies In the News

GazaI’m not prepared to declare my support for any of the often deadly factions seeking to make changes to the lives of the peoples living in what used to be called the Near East, but a terribly unbalanced conflict is killing innocent people in Gaza and it must be stopped. I like Bill Maher and wouldn’t miss his Friday night broadcast (unless John Oliver was on opposite him); still, not everything Maher says is finest-kind.

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Get Smart

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that public information is available to anyone who wants to pursue it. So that detective searching for the birth-mother of a young-republican in Nebraska might discover your address because you subscribe to The Mother Earth News; or a potential employer might learn that you were suspected of torching the factory where you worked before but got off on lack of evidence; or you were once married to the brother of a woman who went to the same college as Bettina Apthecker and once stood in the sandwich line right behind Bettina, a well-known radical with Communist ties and Feminist sensibilities. But all this isn’t worth worrying about; a photo of you peeing against the Century Plaza Hotel isn’t going to ruin your life.

Yes, we all have incidents in our lives that probably should be blamed on Thunderbird and not anarchism.

But with the rise of technology, especially computers and the internet, there are more and more possibilities for trouble. Let’s face it, a fading photo in an old album piled in the corner of a cobwebby basement on the other side of the continent is not going to cost you your job at Walmart. But if that old friend whose name you don’t even remember is flipping through those old albums and has the brilliant idea to post some of the photos on his Facebook page, just for shits and giggles, you might have to turn in all your spirit buttons and have your stylish vest stripped from your shoulders.

A few months ago we heard that the Library of Congress is collecting and storing all the traffic that flows through Twitter. Imagine, every Tweet saved for posterity:  the mind boggles. Now I read that since these social sites on the internet are public, the government (and the detective looking for the birth-mother, etc.) can gather them all in and keep a close watch on the activities of unsuspecting citizens all over the world, including right here in the United States. The FBI and several other secretive branches of the government are now seeking a monitoring program which will find and correlate the vast amount of information appearing on the bigger social sites like Facebook. We already know that corporations are actively processing this internet data so that they can target their advertising and their products, but as nefarious as that is, do we really want the government to have that level of surveillance over our lives?

Remember the Fourth Amendment? The government seems to have forgotten it unless they are playing the right-wing game of “Show me where in the Constitution is mentions Facebook!” Now might be a good time to throw in the wording used by our founding-fathers (no women, notice):

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

See, Americans are “secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects” (except when a warrant is issued for probable cause detailing the specifics of the need to violate a person’s privacy) but it never mentions Facebook (not even MyPage). What this means is that a person’s privacy doesn’t extend to the internet because Ben Franklin was too busy getting the Post Office off the ground to invent the internet back in the 18th Century.

Seeing as how at least one party in the government of this country is clearly fascist (and the Democrats are not doing a good job of combating the spread of darkness over the land), I am very concerned about the government knowing my business more than it does now. I won’t be involved with most of the social sites. WordPress is, obviously, an exception but I justify it in two ways:  first, I committed to having my own online website back in the mid-1990s and have maintained it continuously since then; and second, I control what I say and I am not adverse to speaking my mind, whether the subject is literature or politics. If the government wants to provide me with a URL I will gladly send a copy of each of my posts directly to them so they can get some opinions and information that doesn’t come with a folded check, a wink, and a handshake.