My head is going to explode and it's not Michael Ironside's fault

17 March 2007

Early on in David Cronenberg's Scanners, before Michael Ironside blows a guy's head up by frowning dramatically, a scene shows the plight of the movie's hero. He is lost in a sea of voices that he can't block out. Uninvited bits of minutiae ripple through his poor brain because he is a telepath who can't control his gift.

It seems we don't need telepathy to be cast adrift in a sea of idle, pointless thoughts, just a computer. Thanks to Twitter, we can find out about how nice that last muffin was, who is waiting for a bus and the latest antics of the pet cat. Fantastic.

Even better, we have people telling us that Twitter is the culmination of interpersonal communication, largely because people were able to tell each other they were in the same room at SXSW without having to look around with their eyes, or wave to each other or something so 20th Century.

Steve Rubel wastes no time in breathlessly telling us, among other Twittish things, about how you can map Twitter users - just as long as they can read their co-ordinates off a GPS and enter it on a form. Now that's progress. Even better, Rubel tells us that he is becoming some kind of Lifehacker guru for the marketing set, using gadgets like this to become a "smarter marketer". If by "smarter marketer", he means someone who hitches a ride on every passing techno-bandwagon in order to score some trackbacks, I think I know what he means. Because promoting ways of having random brain lint texted to you doesn't strike me as smart in any context, let alone marketing. Unless you want to see how much flotsam your brain can absorb before it explodes.

As a gadget that lets your mates know where you are of an evening, I can see the point of Twitter. As some kind of ultra high-frequency blog for people who don't really know you, this is one fad that's surely destined for the bin. It doesn't even do a good job of conveying presence the way that IM interfaces do.

I'm drinking a nice cup of tea, by the way, and the cat's on my lap. That is all.