I’ve been trying to figure out what to do about twitter and social media for fifteen years, and the only thing I can come up with is, start a blog.
Whatever else it is, Twitter has been a source of language fascination for me. To see or share combinations of words of unexpected beauty, sublimity, stupidity, and criminality. I developed a practice of tweeting stuff without explanation or context–without original context, since the whole point was to hold up an object of text, or later, an image, or a combination of both, and present it in the context of the Twitter feed itself–that annoyed tf out of some people. I really tried to approach Twitter as an experiment, to see what would happen, or what worked and what didn’t. As time went on, Twitter’s own conventions coalesced, and even came to dominate information in the world, far beyond its own users’ spheres.
But that’s not important right now. One thing I started to do was to find meaning or resonance in groupings of tweets. Because they were in my timline, coming from people I’d chosen to follow, the synchronicities between adjacent tweets weren’t exactly random, but the more random and unrelated they seemed, the better. The connection didn’t need to be glaringly obvious, either, but an unusual, mundane word appearing in three unrelated tweets was as awesome as two rhyming images.
I developed rules for groupings: adjacency was a must; longer chains of tweets beat a pair; no retweets or manipulations by me. But in practice, I’d just screenshot’em all and figure I’d sort’em out later. And sometimes, when they ended up next to a gem, I couldn’t resist including my own tweets.
These groupings were made by others and me, and yet it seemed the only intentionality was in the finding. There was the sense, or perhaps the alluring suggestion, that beyond illuminating the contours of my own curatorial decisions, the groupings offered glimpses of a larger, unintended, collective meaning, like generative glitches in a (not the) matrix.
I tweeted some of these out as I’d find them, just a blip in the stream, but then I decided to collect them, to see what they could do together. So I started a tumblr, and after two tedious weeks of trying to capture the metadata embedded in each multitweet screenshot, I shelved it. But the screenshots have kept piling up.
Now with the actual destruction of Twitter looming, these shards feel possibly more relevant than they did, and so I’ve dusted off the tumblr and will keep posting these nice groupings, worrying less that they conform to my own arbitrary notions of multi-tweet poetic form, and instead being glad that they exist at all.