Archive for July, 2010
Well, I just got a Twitter account. I’m @DamonKaswell there, if you’re curious. I know, I swore up and down I wouldn’t, rejecting categorically any service that restricts the length of my thoughts to 140 characters. “Microblogging?” I scoffed. “Pshaw! Reduces attention spans, I’m sure. Makes people even more distractable than they already are. Imbalances the bodily humours, too, I’d wager.”
But I had something of an epiphany. I read a transcript of an interesting Twitter conversation on science and science fiction, and found myself wishing I could have chimed in. Because gosh darn it, I had some things to say on the subject. I wanted to be part of the conversation.
And that’s when it dawned on me. Twitter isn’t a good blogging tool, but it’s an excellent conversation tool. Twitter status updates can be treated as miniature Facebook updates, and for the ADHD set, I’m sure that’s all they are. But those hash tags (#) can turn Twitter into public chat rooms anyone can pop in and contribute to. You’re not going to get the depth of discussion you’ll find from friends on, say, LiveJournal, but you will get morsels from people who are interested in the same topic, friends or not. If you tag a post with #avocadomilkshakes, anyone else in the world who shares your disgusting gustatory interests can chime in.
Of course, this leads me to a new dilemma. I now have a WordPress blog, a LiveJournal account, a Google Buzz account, a Facebook account, and now a Twitter account. It’s getting cumbersome and unwieldy to manage.
After putting some thought into it, I’d like a client or system that allows me to do as follows:
- Blog: I would like to add posts to my blog. Duh.
- LiveJournal: I would like to synchronize my blog with LiveJournal.
- Google Buzz: I’d like to synchronize my blog here as well, but also want to use it to directly post shorter thoughts and status updates that aren’t really suitable for the blog, but are too long for Twitter.
- Facebook: I’d like my blog to show up as Facebook “notes,” and standalone Google Buzz posts to show up as status updates. What I don’t want is Buzz posts that were created from my blog to show up, which would be unnecessary duplication.
- Twitter: I want to use this primarily for conversations. It would also be nice to selectively update my Twitter, Buzz, and Facebook statuses simultaneously if I have something short I want to post in all three places.
- LiveJournal/Facebook/Buzz: It would also be nice to be able to make longer posts for in-depth discussions that don’t show up on my primary blog but do show up in these three locations simultaneously.
Has anyone figured out a system to get all this working with a minimum of fuss? My ideal solution would be a single client application I could write my content in, with checkboxes for where I want it to go. Right now I’m using a hodgepodge of WordPress plugins, Facebook notes syndication, and selective Buzz updates.
For extra credit, it would be very, very nice to be able to synchronize all my friends’ various feeds too, and read them in one feed that de-duplicates the content, so I don’t have to jump around from site to site. But I’m sure that’s a pipe-dream.
Have you noticed that we live in The Future yet? I have. I realized it while I was on the biofuel-powered mass conveyance machine this morning. Anyway, I looked up from my portable network terminal (on which I was simultaneously reading about vat-grown organs and receiving wireless audio signals) and found myself genuinely considering, for the first time, the possibility that I might someday become functionally immortal.
After all, scientists have already demonstrated that simply by reducing the speed at which DNA structures called “telomeres” shorten, they can make worms live 20% longer. Studies are already under way on telomerase, and other gene therapies that at least theoretically counteract some or all of the effects of aging.
Of course, there are other paths life-extension technology could take. We don’t even have to wait for the day limb replacements get better than the real thing; that day is already here.
I wanted to share these thoughts with someone. I considered using my portable network terminal to engage in instantaneous verbal communication with someone — that someone could very well be anywhere on the planet — but decided against it. Such conversations are a little rude in close quarters such as the conveyance I was sitting in.
So I kept it to myself. However, the towering heights our collective technological genius has reached left me feeling dizzy all day, from the moment I used a magnetized strip embedded in polyvinyl chloride acetate (a credit card) to purchase breakfast, to the moment I decided to use a large-screen portable network terminal to write this essay and simultaneously share it across half a dozen different virtual network locales (websites).
What would our burgeoning sciences look like to species on other worlds (some of which we can now take actual photographs of)? When I visited NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratories, I met a man whose job description is basically “drives robots on Mars with his phone.” We must appear to be getting fairly high-tech to the little green men now, if they’re out there.
In some ways, this is something of a bittersweet thought. The science fiction I read when I was a child has been outstripped by a reality I couldn’t have imagined back then. And the pace of improvement keeps increasing. Sometimes I’m afraid any story I write will be obsolete by the time it’s published. Writing fantasy has frankly become easier, because no scientific advancement will ever render stories set in magical worlds any less realistic than they already are.
But… We’ve won. And by “we,” I mean science fiction writers. We’ve dreamed of futures filled with spaceships and robots and computers and everything else for so long, those dreams have affected the reality we live in. Scientists and inventors look to science fiction for inspiration, and find ways to turn it into science fact.
We live in The Future, and it’s goddamn awesome.