Microblog sites and the Creation of a new Community

I spent a short time recently getting Twitter (a ‘micro blogging’ site) to talk to Facebook. Obviously the desire to spend time integrating two Web 2.0 applications places me firmly in the category of ‘geek’, but let’s ignore that for now. What I began to think about is:

Who cares?

I mean, really, who cares what I am doing?

15 years ago I worked in remote parts of the world: The only contact we had was via the BBC World Service or Voice Of America (both on Short Wave radio) or if there was a real emergency via Single Side Band Radio to the country office. I was out of touch with the world for 2 months at a time.

And the world seemed to keep turning.

Now, we are being encouraged to post to the world in every minute detail. I just wonder what it is that gives us the arrogance to think that anyone else is remotely interested in what we are doing right now Or maybe I am just officially a Grumpy Old Man

I can understand the concept of creating a new online community of your friends, knowing what each of us is doing all the time. Maybe that is what neighbourhood communities were like 40, 50 or more years ago. Or maybe my vision of the world has so changed as a result of working away for long periods of time that I can’t actually work out how much “normal” people know about each other every day.

Contents of a Library

In the past an extensive collection of books in a library was a sign of both education and wealth.

Today a library will more often be made up from DVD’s and CD’s as well as books; but with the availability of multi channel TV on Demand, Video rental (from stores or on-line), iTunes and music sharing what do you really want to buy to put in your library. I propose that the DVD’s  that we buy fall into 1 of 2 categories:

  1. Movies/ TV Shows that we truly will watch many, many times. Typically these will be children’s films (because kids will watch the same film again and again and again) or guilty pleasures that we use as comfort food. Basically anything by Pixar, Disney or Dreamworks falls into this camp.
  2. Movies/ TV Shows that we want other people to see on our library shelf.  You might not ever get around to watching these DVD’s (you definitely won’t watch them often enough to justify the cost you paid) but they show that you are familiar with Truffaut/ Shakespeare/ Welles etc etc. I know that I will never watch the original version of ‘The Manchurian Candidate’ often enough to justify the price I paid for it (not least of which is because it scared the bejeezus out out me) but it sure do look good on the shelf.

And sometimes, just very occasionally we get a DVD that falls into both categories. And when you do, it makes you very, very happy.

P Company

This goes firmly in the category of “things that make you laugh (but really shouldn’t)”

P Company is the selection process used by the Parachute Regiment (2 Para or 3 Para) to determine who is eligible to take parachute training. It is a brutal week seven weeks (thanks to Smudge for providing me the correct information) of physical and mental examinations to weed out anyone deemed unsuitable. Needless to say I have no idea of what these men go through and it is a long time since I had any pretensions of even starting such a test, never mind finish it.

There were two documentaries made in the early to mid 1980’s about this selection process, probably as a direct result of the Parachute Regiment’s involvement in the Falklands Conflict. The BBC made a 6 part documentary, Channel 4 made a 1 hour special. At the very end of the Channel 4 version a new recruit is shown taking his first training parachute jump. The process is well known: Jump, count to 3, look up and check your company. The following is what this new recruit said as he made his first jump

“One thousand. Two thousand. Three thousand. Check canopy”

Short pause as canopy inflates

“Thank f^c& for that”

And here is the video to prove it (the clip is right at the end), courtesy of You Tube.

Train Crash TV

I am still managing to stick to my New Year Resolution of only watching worthwhile TV. I fall off the bandwagon occasionally, but try to stick to the resolution, because I feel it is worth it. Anyway, the result of whatching these different TV shows, often back to back is that you see the differences between the watching experience:

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
Is a glorious, life affirming experience that wants to make me a better, smarter person. And was the cause of the post I want to live in TV land
What About Brian
Reminds me of a shambles of a group of friends that I know called the Strollers
Is kind of cool and I can’t help but watch it even though it doesn’t give a warm buzz I keep watching it.
Is an apt name for the show. Courtney Cox is completely unlikeable as the lead actress (and she blew guest star Jennifer Aniston off the screen), the show is completely unsuitable to watch with your parents (or your kids) and it focuses almost entirely on the seamy underbelly of Hollwood.And yet I have been entirely unable to switch it off. Part of this is due to an outstanding performance from Ian Hart but beyond that I have no idea why I have been able to turn it off.

Which is the reason for the title. I have never witnessed a train crash, but apparently we can’t look away. Which is what I found with Dirt. I don’t really want to watch it, but I can’t not. At least the first season is done now and I can find something else to watch. Any suggestions? Anyone?

I want to live in TV Land

Yes we are a long way behind, but UK terrestrial TV is just getting around to showing some of the ‘better’ US TV shows from the last season: Heroes, Dirt and my personal favourite: Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

I just wish that I could be that smart when I talk and my problems could be captured in a neat little 48 minute episode

Simplification of Evil

Truly amazing the junk one can watch on hotel TV. Especially if in a foreign country and with limited channels. So last night I finished up watching ‘Charmed’ which was a show about 3 witches. Anyway, they ‘chose’ to be good until put under a spell at which point they ‘chose’ to be evil.

Which made for great TV but got me to thinking: No-one decides to be evil. They simply pursue a course of action that to others appears to others to have negative consequences for many people (often those consequences include death, but only in a nice, funny, turn into ice and the melt way. At least that is how it appears on TV).

So setting people up to choose to be evil just seemed facile. Making them decide to do things and damn the consequences for everyone else- that is much more fun. And true to life.

 But then it was a show about witches, so maybe I am reading too much into it.

New Year Resolutions

Many people make New Year Resolutions: Give up smoking, Get Fit, Go on a diet. Most times these resolutions last for a few hours, days or sometimes even weeks. This year I made a resolution that I have pretty much been able to keep: Only watch worthwhile TV. To aid me in this endeavour I have a PVR (TiVO) that I program and then only watch the recorded TV. This saves time (skip the adverts) and means that I can compare some different, high (IMHO) quality shows. So the recorded shows include

  • Weeds
  • Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
  • Heroes
  • Dirt
  • What About Brian
  • Life on Mars
  • Sensitive Skin

And you know what, it is working. Live is good. And if I don’t stick to it, I feel bad.