Form: #digitalbritain postscript 2

the other thing worthy of note from #digitalbritain was the way in which twitter came into its own as a way of reporting and commenting.  To the evident irritation of some of those inside and outside the conference room. What business is the event of anyone elses to comment and criticise? Watch the TVfeed and wonder..

I don't think the twittering around the event was particularly sophisticated. But it showed how the epigrammatic nature of tweeting takes  on a variety of forms. the precising of what is said. The use of brief commentary or counter claim. The use of the tweet as event footnote or crossreference. The I agree and the Look at this of the retweet. These forms are relatively stable because they are quickly grasped by those who use them.  The formal rules of a medium have to be grasped by those who create them far more than by those who link or just read them passively. Much of our understanding of genre has been created by academics and critics who are not creatives but curators and commentators.  I have been rereading that great textbook on writing ads. Hey Whipple squeeze this which give an intriguing insider loook at how those who actually write ads think about the business of writing them. Showing a grasp of form which those who only ever read ads have no understanding of.

Why is this important. Because if there is a measurable shift in the proportion of the population creating content then the ways in which forms are structured, used and understood will change markedly. The novel as a form is properly understood by the few thousand in this country who write them. But the forms of blogging and twittering potentially increase involvement and understanding among millions. Just as the lives of millions were changed when penguin paperbooks made classics avaialable to millions. So mass participation and engagement with communicating is set to increase the use of forms. This will make life difficult for advertisers who are used to having passive audiences. And who only want enough interactivity to get people involved to listen to the advertisers message. They are not set to receive. Where you have a population who are spending more of their time creating – they not only have less time for receiving broadcast messages, they find such messages intrinsically less interesting. Apart from the possiblities of recycling or using them as raw materials for their own creativity.

I am not sure how many of those twittering on Friday knew very much about the digital Britain project, what the purpose was and what is expected to emerge from it. It didn't prevent them from participating. It didn't make it any less fun.I bet almost none had read the report which preceded the event. Form and the use of forms is becoming more important by the day. 5 years ago when postmodernism was the rage there was lots of commentary about how forms were being parodied and satirised. In the current development parody is taking second place to improvisation and modification of the forms available to all of us who are privileged to be online.

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