Share it like Cicero: How Roman authors used social networking

Thought this was interesting. There is nothing new under the sun!

RomansOne of the stories I tell in “Writing on the Wall” is about the way the Roman book-trade worked. There were no printing presses, so copying of books, which took the form of multiple papyrus rolls, was done entirely by hand, by scribes, most of whom were slaves. There were no formal publishers either, so Roman authors had to rely on word-of-mouth recommendations and social distribution of their works via their networks of friends and acquaintances.

It was crucial to choose the right person to dedicate the book to. The ideal candidate would be famous, influential and somewhat vain, so that he would be sure to mention the book to his friends, thus ensuring that people heard about it. He would also have an impressive library with plenty of traffic from visiting scholars and philosophers. The new book, prominently displayed in the library as a set of rolls in an…

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Microblogging – Twitter

I’ve looked at Twitter, and I know it’s very popular; and nice people have explained to me why they like it/think it’s useful. But I still don’t get it.

For me it seems to me to be a form of limited (140 characters) text messaging which has the ability to be received by multiple persons who are ‘following’ either you or the subject of the post, both of which are denoted by hashtags. Text messaging for me is purely utilitarian eg. “where are you?”, “did you get the milk?” etc. For messages like that, one recipient is about the limit!

The 140 character limit is also I think a problem, can one say something very profound or thought provoking within that limit? Perhaps, but certainly not often! Such short messages lose any tone or nuance they might have. Communication is more than just the words used, indeed, some may say the words are the least important part! With longer written works it is possible to explain, to clarify, to carefully phrase, to use exactly the right words irrespective of number to get your meaning across.

One of the advantages Twitter does have is it’s immediacy and speed, the downside of this of course is the old saying “post in haste, repent at leisure”.

As perhaps you can tell, I’m not a fan!

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SM I’ve Tried – Facebook

Let me start with a disclaimer: I use Facebook, but I don’t like it much!

So why use it? With Facebook you can do most of the possible things in social media, you can blog, microblog, chat, photoshare and use it as a newsreader. It will also attempt to integrate (read takeover) programs such as Skype. The trouble is, it does none of these things very well, but it does do them all in the same place! This is convenient.

However, if you are strongly into photosharing, Flickr is a much better choice, similarly for microblogging, Twitter would be the go and for blogging itself? Gosh, perhaps a blog would be better?

I use it myself mainly as a newsfeed from media sites both in Australia and from overseas and as a way to keep in desultory touch with friends. Given the number of ‘friends’ I have on Facebook and the number of extraneous sources, causes and interests I track through there it produces a comfortable ‘feed’, one which I am able to look through so that I don’t miss much.

With Facebook I think it’s best to look carefully at the Terms of Service. I certainly don’t post any photographs there that I actually care about.

Worth a look is this.

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Flickr – The Commons

One of the most interesting features in Flickr is The Commons. It is a collection of photographic archives from participating institutions, it commenced in early 2008 with a pilot project in partnership with the Library of Congress, after the success of this, additional institutions joined the project. It currently has over sixty institutions participating.

The program has two main objectives:
1.To increase access to publicly-held photography collections, and
2.To provide a way for the general public to contribute information and knowledge. (Then watch what happens when they do!)

One feature which distinguishes The Commons is its use of no known copyright restrictions, this rights statement is required for organisations to participate in the program. In brief it is an assertion by the participating institutions that they may rightly claim “no known copyright restrictions” on the content that they share.

Institutions from all over the world are part of this, with images dating from the very dawn of photography, depicting everyone from the famous, to the anonymous dead, ships sunk or long since sent to the scrapyards, places that no longer exist save in these images. It’s the closest most of us will ever get to time travel!

However, more importantly, we can find pictures of cats!

A cold kitty on the steam yacht "Morning".

A cold kitty on the steam yacht “Morning”.

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SM I’ve Tried – Youtube

And yes, ‘SM’ does mean social media…

Youtube has to be my favourite social media platform, I find it totally immersive, have spent hours searching, watching jumping to something that looks interesting in the related videos list. Have wasted days on it! I haven’t uploaded much myself, just two videos, but I comment on ones I like and have occasionally exchanged emails with other users

It has a massive range of content, with everything from how-to vids to old films to music videos not to mention the ubiquitous internet cats. My favourite however are the music vids, I can keep up with modern music, classical composers who I’ve heard of, but never previously heard, not to mention oldies; and for me that means a lot of eighties music!

But I think the most rewarding part of Youtube is the ‘discovering’ of new non-commercial music; there’s a huge number of extremely talented people out there and because of Youtube I get to listen and watch, no matter where they live! Here is a playlist with some of these folks, there are thousands more.

One form on Youtube I am fond of is the ‘mashup’, Bonnie described mashups to us as combining divers streams of data electronically to produce a new and useful result/application (I hope I got that right!). However the only way I have seen the term used before is to describe an short edited video from a film or tv show overlaid with music from a different source. In my opinion, done well they can provide an immensely powerful experience.

This is one of my favourites, from David Tennants ‘Casanova’ with ‘My Immortal’ by Evanescence (sorry for the video quality but I can’t figure a way to make the screen smaller…sigh).

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Flickr Furore!

The photosharing site Flickr (owned by Yahoo) recently did a major update mainly in the look and feel of the site. Formerly it was an uninspired layout but clean and quick to load, but now it has added copious amounts of black and less user control over layout, photo sizes etc.

There has been some feedback on the Flickr site regarding these changes in this thread, at the time of writing there are almost 29k posts over 289 pages! Most of these posts do not seem supportive of the changes.

This seems to be a bit more than the typical kneejerk anti-change rage we’ve all seen so often (especially regarding Facebook), this seems serious. So the question is ‘will flickr listen to it’s users or not?’, time will tell.

Here is an interesting blogpost about the changes and here’s another.

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Obligatory Cat Photo

As we all know, the only actually useful purpose the internet serves is to facilitate the sharing of cat images. So here’s mine. And here is a short wikipedia article which may be of interest.

Obligatory Cat

Obligatory Cat

Posted in Cats, social media | Tagged , | 5 Comments