[Humanist] 24.188 how sweetly tweet

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Mon Jul 12 10:18:52 CEST 2010

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 188.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Mon, 12 Jul 2010 09:16:22 +0100
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: micropoetry

On the subject of a poetics of tweets, or poetry in that medium, I find 
PoeticTweet (www.poetictweets.com/), a bot that serves up any tweets 
with the right sort of hashtag -- though at the time of writing it found 
none; William Shatner reciting Sarah Palin's tweets as poetry 
(mashable.com/2009/07/29/shatner-palin-conan/); an article in the 
Guardian on poetic tweets that quotes "the kind of 'I went outside and 
saw a cat / it was black and white, how lucky is that?' drivel that is 
the lingua franca of the Twitterati" but argues, in this vein 
optimistically, "that doesn't mean there's no room for anyone else to 
carve out a niche market" 
some "almost haiku" (twitter.com/seriouseats/status/9544922177); and so 
on among the 295K hits on "poetic tweets". The Poetry Foundation has 
taken notice (www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet/2009/02/poetry-tweets/).

Other suggestions, especially of the nondrivelling kind, would be welcome.

But again, what interests me, and seems highly relevant to Humanist, is 
the argument that Twitter is deterministic, or restricts the writer to 
such a degree that the tendency to write drivel is well-nigh 
overwhelming. When confronted with something we don't understand do we 
*always* take refuge in the nearest determinism? Prisoners in a dungeon 
tapping out messages to each other can say quite a bit that isn't 
drivel. But the greatest example of all is Jean-Dominique Bauby's 
autobiography, translated as The Diving-Bell & the Butterfly, from which 
a fine movie has been made. Mind over/through/in the medium?

Willard McCarty, Professor of Humanities Computing,
King's College London, staff.cch.kcl.ac.uk/~wmccarty/;
Editor, Humanist, www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist;
Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, www.isr-journal.org.

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