Writer Unboxed | On 'Social' Media

The glowing Twingly version of "social" media flaring in real time around the world.

By Porter Anderson | @Porter_Anderson

From February 4, 2012
The first in my series of columns on the “social” media at Writer Unboxed.

‘Social’ media: What isn’t in a name

O thou, my lovely boy, who in thy power

Dost hold Time’s fickle glass, his sickle, hour…

Sonnet 126

The so-called “social” media, currently our lovely boy of communication, hold in their darting packets of data, surely, unimaginable power.

  • They collapse distance across continents and seas we once showed on no maps. Ariel, himself, would weep.
  • They erase the time — days, weeks, months, even years — we once waited for letters.
  • They spin across the planet’s surface to survey, sift, locate, tag, follow, and bond us to people we’d never have met in earlier times. Our ability to convene global salons of cohorts in real time is unprecedented in human experience.
  • They pump ready reservoirs of information into deserts of ignorance and await only curiosity to be tapped.
  • They open to us possibilities of collusion and cooperation, contrivance and collaboration, calumny and camaraderie, catastrophe and compassion.

So where do we get off being so trite when we speak of these forces?

Cuteness is revolting

When you need your political uprising led by a cartoon character. (From Twitter's official logos page.)

Shall we say with straight faces that the brave Tunisians – whose dogged grace inaugurated the Arab Spring — tweeted their way to freedom? I suppose they’re lucky that Twitter co-founders Jack Dorsey and “Biz” Stone didn’t consign them to quacking in glory or chirping their triumph.

And does it make you love a social networking/sharing/bookmarking service better to find it spelled Tumblr instead of Tumbler? Flickr instead of Flicker? Licorize, Pinterest, YouTube?

Denmark, like many non-English-based cultures, is seeing a steady rise in English names for companies, even when little business is done in anything but Danska. Thus, my cable service in Copenhagen was provided by YouSee, you see.

A bookish rendition of the HootSuite owl. Awwwwwww.

My own tweets are lobbed at a defenseless population from a dashboard provided to me by HootSuite. Little owl for a logo. Adorable, huh? One can tweet out pictures with TwitPic. Warm and fuzzy enough for you yet?

Does it say anything about a new service when it’s named for the company launching it and a mathematical symbol? Google+ — plus what? Plus the kindergartners who must have done that graphic on its homepage? Scratchy arrows in the Google colors point to a red circle of your peers. Buy me the Crayons, I can do better than that.

I like Google+, although my interest in scrapbook/display networking is secondary to my fondness for news-ticker-ish platforms. And as for the name Google+? Well, this is the massive company that has named the Android platform for phones and tablets Ice Cream Sandwich. Hope you like it, because Google is naming all the Android operating systems after desserts. Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb.

Isn’t that cute? Just shoot me now.

Click to read this full post at Writer Unboxed.

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