Robert is Blogging about Facebook

Clive Thompson in Wired, on How Twitter Creates a Social Sixth Sense:

Individually, most Twitter messages are stupefyingly trivial. But the true value of Twitter is cumulative. … When I see that my friend Misha is “waiting at Genius Bar to send my MacBook to the shop,” that’s not much information. But when I get such granular updates every day for a month, I know a lot more about her. And when my four closest friends and worldmates send me dozens of updates a week for five months, I begin to develop an almost telepathic awareness of the people most important to me.

Twitter is a kind of mini-blogging, where you can post message via text message. Thompson predicts that this feature will be incorporated into other applications… and indeed, a similar feature exists in Facebook, which incorporates a “status” field that you can fill in with whatever you wish.

Facebook welcome screen

One feature of the Facebook feature is that the site automatically adds the word “is” to the start of the sentence (i.e. “Robert is…”). This can be frustrating when one’s status (whatever it may be) does not lend itself well to an “is”. I have to write “Robert is wanting…” instead of “Robert wants…”, and “Robert is thinking…” instead of “Robert thinks…”

Some people have been agitating to have this little quirk removed from the site. However, I think this would be a mistake. Sometimes, real creativity arises when one has to overcome constraints. Some of the best Facebook statuses (stati?) I’ve seen, have caused the obligatory “is” to be integral. When you realise that the first two words of a sentence are mandatory, a cliche suddenly seems inspired.

My recent favourites are both very much the epitome of 21st century urban life:

Gill is like, so, whatever.

and

Mike is just popping out to the shops, do you want anything?

9 Replies to “Robert is Blogging about Facebook”

  1. Here’s a suggestion, instead of spending so much time getting a “social sixth sense” of your closest friends via text and internet, how about going out and spending quality time with them, talking to them on the phone, writing to them and actually becoming involved in their lives on a much deeper level, therefore enhancing any social skills you may have left!

  2. Tyra – I think Thompson’s point is that Twitter actually helps with all those other activities.

    A few decades ago, people did not routinely have telephones in their houses. Mobile phones have only been ubiquitous for ten or eleven years. I’m sure there were people who said that using the telephone would damage your social skills and writing skills! The art of proper letter writing is withering.

    Twitter and Facebook are two examples of what Michelle kasprzak calls the Smallweb. Connecting with people you already know and allowing improvements in those relationships… rather than the BigWeb, which would I suppose be connecting with people you do not yet know.

  3. Haha! I was tempting to use your one too Robert but thought it may be a little skanky!

    One thing I do love with the status’ though is the meta status conversations that happen. I changed mine to ‘Leon is wondering why such and such’ and later that day I noticed a friend had changed hers to ‘[name] is wondering why Leon is wondering such and such’! Great fun.:D

    Now I know you’re fine with Status stealing I’ll be thieving away more often.;)

  4. A friend of mine on here who’s only sixteen but leaves me standing creatively and intellectually, used his as a question, his first one being “Vernon is that it?” I thought that was brilliant and told him I was gonna plagiarise it but do the decent thing and credit it. So mine became “Richard is that the best you can do, steal an idea from Vernon?”

  5. I’ve gone in the other direction, and taken the “is” to be simply describing the word.

    So my status becomes “Robert is a boy’s name of European origin. It means “bright fame”, derived from the Germanic elements “hrod” and “beraht” … ”

    If found that by visiting Behind The Name.

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