In college, I was an English major, a "worthy procrastinator," and avoided coffee like the plague. These three characteristics led me to stay up well past my bedtime working on almost due papers. I'd stare at my screen bleary eyed and make desperate attempts to draw parallels between two (often disparate) or three characters or events. The results were mostly good (with the exception of a disastrous paper in which I tried to compare the AIDS virus to a sports metaphor without appropriate knowledge of either); the tendency to seek connections between old and new became ingrained.
Last week, I attended the New York "Twestival," a charity event and gathering of Twitter users and an off-off Broadway play. While I have no paper deadline in sight, I still couldn't help but see a potential connection worthy of public debate:
As you may know, back in the 1920's, a group of writers, actors, critics and wits met daily for quips, lunch, and back stabs at a round table in Manhattan's Algonquin Hotel. Regular attendees included Dorothy Parker, New Yorker founder Harold Ross, and Robert Benchley. Many of the members wrote about their adventures in newspaper columns published across the country, and they became famous for their insights.
As I gazed upon the hundreds of "Twitterati" at the Twestival, I couldn't help but wonder if we're on the cusp of a new kind of Round Table: people are rapidly becoming "micro-famous" for real-time, sometimes insightful, often thought-provoking messages of 140 characters or less. Will this, in the future, have the same type of lasting legacy as the Round Table that brought us the New Yorker and oft quoted Dorothy Parker gems such as "Men never make passes at girls who wear glasses?"
If you are participating in this brave new Web 2.0 world, how you choose to share your knowledge is entirely up to you. Do you see your status updates on Twitter or Facebook as the equivalent of writing a newspaper article? Should you guard your privacy and hold your tongue? We'll cover these and other issues in upcoming posts.
I think some caution is warranted: Who hasn't heard of the employer that made a decision to axe a prospective or current employee based on what was found online? But I'd love to hear your perspective--especially as it relates to Facebook's recent change in membership agreements. Facebook now has the right to "freely use anything people add to the website even after members delete material or close accounts."
Will you keep your fingers quiet, be your own censor, or rush head-first into this brave new world?
I'm on the edge of my seat.