I am surprised I missed this as the time: Tweets from Tahrir. Its a compilation of tweets from Tahrir Square during the Arab Spring uprisings, edited by Nadia Idle and Alex Nunns. During the protests I suggested that the protestors in ‘the world’s biggest think-tank’ publish their hopes for the future of Egypt and that new technologies could help them do it very quickly. Idle and Nunns appear to have got this precise project published within a month.
This book obviously owes something to James Bridle’s TweetBook. It is also a companion to books like We Are Iran and Diaries of an Unfinished Revolution, two collections drawn from blogs and activists, and supported by English PEN’s Writers in Translation programme.
As is my wont, I made a book to illustrate this. Physical objects are useful props in debates like this: immediately illustrative, and useful to hang an argument and peoples’ attention on.
James Bridle is probably best known as the artist who first articulated ‘The New Aesthetic‘, but he has run many projects on books and technology. His project ‘The Iraq War‘ is a favourite of mine – the entire Wikipedia Edit History of the ‘Iraq War’ article, from 2005-2009, which stretches to twelve volumes. He’s also the creator of a Book of Tweets.
James’ projects are the inspiration of one of my own – The Defamation Act 2013: Complete & Unabridged. It collects together, in chronological order, every single parliamentary document published during the passage of the recent reform of our libel law. These include the various versions of the Bill (which I have previously published in a spliced together version, ‘Tracked Changes in the Defamation Bill‘), the parliamentary Hansard transcripts of the debates; and the amendment papers. Continue reading “The Defamation Act 2013: Complete & Unabridged”
Here I am, writing on my blog at 2:45am.
I’ve just read an interesting short blog post by Nicholas Carr on ‘Nowness’:
The Net’s bias, Gelernter explains, is toward the fresh, the new, the now. Nothing is left to ripen. History gets lost in the chatter. But, he suggests, we can correct that bias. We can turn the realtime stream into a “lifestream,” tended by historians, along which the past will crystallize into rich, digital deposits of knowledge.
I think this is why James Bridle’s Tweetbook appeals to me. By pulling a large set of data into book form, James imposes a permanence on something that was previously transient. I plan to recreate the project for my own tweets one day soon – Not to publish to the world, but a single copy for myself. Twitter is a diary and it is upon diaries that some of the best history is derived.
I’ve found myself doing that with other creations too. I have hundreds of digital photos sitting on my hard-drive, but I busied myself last weekend by printing out about five of them as 8″x5″ and putting them in nice frames. I think that act of printing and fixing is an act of stepping out of the stream. An act of stopping. Only then can you look back, look forward, and perhaps, look properly inward, too.