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Sunday, 6 July 2014

An Explanation of Paul T Kidd’s Twitter Tales

In last week’s blog I mentioned something that I call Twitter Tales. This week I will explain this idea. In brief, Twitter Tales are an artistic comment on the fragmentation of the modern world, its stupidity, and its lost knowledge/wisdom. The tales are difficult to understand and difficult to find, even with a hashtag, which is part of the point!

In more detail, Twitter Tales are an experiment in using new social media (in this case Twitter) for storytelling and are linked to my interest to use information and communication technologies to enable innovation in storytelling and art. The tales are also connected with my use of the creative arts to challenge existing paradigms (in science, economics, engineering, technology) and to develop new ones, and to push the boundaries of creative writing while at the same time blurring the boundaries between literature and other types of artistic expression, for example the visual arts, performing arts, etc.

Twitter Tales use the 140 characters allowed for a Tweet (which also includes spaces) to make a point, tell a very short story, or convey a profound understanding. The tweets are linked together by a meta tag (the hash tag), but the tweets are also lost among all my other tweets, and, because of the way that Twitter operates, even using the meta tag does not guarantee access to all the tweets that are part of a Twitter Tale.

All the Tweets forming a Twitter Tale exist in the Twitter Sphere into which they are inserted, but with time, become lost within it, yet the possibility remains of rediscovering these, but to do so requires effort – much like certain types knowledge that have become lost, because of contemporary society’s value-based obsession with one particular type of knowledge. What I am referring to here is the excessive emphasis placed on scientific knowledge, which is often increasingly esoteric and inaccessible, but also over valued for various reasons, which include the sad reality that science has come to mirror non-benign interests – economic, military, security. And not only is this knowledge increasingly difficult to understand, but so too is the mentality that places science, as a way of knowing the world, above other ways that we as humans use to make sense of ourselves and our place in the universe, and to generate knowledge of the universe (in the sense of the totality of everything).

Twitter Tales also pose the question whether the difficulty in understanding the meaning of the tales lies in the reduction of knowledge to a series of fragments, and the difficulty in finding all the tweets that make up a Twitter Tale, or if the problem also lies in the fragmentation of the mind, where those who generate knowledge and those who access the knowledge, are both increasingly unable to fully understand, not because of inherent difficulties in doing so, but by choice. One might say they have chosen to ignore the great ocean of knowledge that is available to all, and to focus only of a few fragments.

The tales therefore invite reflection and the rediscovery of the need for learning and knowledge in the whole, and the importance of trans-disciplinary perspectives and of the bringing together of knowledge in one place, in one mind, so that the world can once more be viewed from the perspective of a totality of knowledge. Twitter Tales also invite the reader to fill in the gaps, so to speak, to formulate the provided fragments into something that is meaningful, or not, depending on the willingness of the reader to engage in a creative act and to also see the world in different ways, which those inclined towards dogma do not want to do.

In respect of the above, these Twitter Tales can be seen as a commentary on contemporary civilisation, where dogma prevails, but is not perceived to, and where the dogma that humans are machines, leads to people perceiving themselves as machines, treating others as such, which leads to the reduction of life to a series of many machine like fragmented activities that have to be done better, faster and cheaper, often through the use of information and communication technologies.

And being only machines, people are not able to choose any other way to live their lives, yet in choosing to believe this, they expose the contradiction that they are making such a choice, consciously or unconsciously! And thus one might ask whether the human intellect has made any progress at all over the past centuries: have we just swapped the view that human life is determined by the gods and fate, for one where human actions are determined by genes and biological programmes, and thus we have no choice at all, for everything is determined by a process of natural selection, and all we can do is comply and accept the lunacy that follows from this determinism?

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