In late September, Tyler Brûlé, the Canadian-raised, London-living journalist, wrote a column taking a crack against Twitter, the social-media site.
Brûlé is the former wunderkind who launched the ultra-trendy design magazine Wallpaper* in his 20s, and now, barely 40, is running another publication, Monocle, a high-end, internationally oriented (and quite good) magazine that launched as newsstands around the world have been losing one familiar title after another.
Kudos to Brûlé, then, for showing some bravado to stick up for magazines. But I could only laugh when I read what Brûlé wrote on Twitter for his weekly column in London’s Financial Times. On a business trip to Japan, he was delighted to find his contacts there, in the most technologically adroit country on the planet, did not know what Twitter was.Brûlé revealed he loathes Twitter, and said he expected to become as quickly irrelevant as Second Life. I agree that much of what some people write on their Twitter feeds is inane, but the application is already powerful to warrant serious attention, especially in Brûlé’s line of work.
Here’s the irony: I first heard about the column via my own Twitter feed. A contact had a link to the online version of the FT column. Through the next hour or two, at least three or four of the other people in my network highlighted the same column, or retweeted someone else’s message. A check on a Twitter search a week later showed screen after screen of various Twitter users pointing to the column or discussing it … often by trashing it.
I have no idea how much traffic the Financial Times picked up from all that Twitter-fed attention on the purported futility of Twitter. I bet someone noticed, though.
Which leads me to some advice for people who expertly dismiss something they don’t understand. Yes, Twitter will have no role in many people’s lives. But you assume at your peril if your own industry, business or organization need not take a serious look at how social media already works.
Elsewhere this week
In part to illustrate the above, here’s a handy tool that shows just how massively different the online landscape is now, and how it’s changing, with split-second updates on the volume of chatting, posting and, yes, spending online.
Some bands really soak up and showcase the cities that spawned him; many cities have strong musical identities of their own. CitySounds is a music-streaming service that is carving a niche by grouping its offerings (independently produced and artist-posted music) by geography. So, if you’re into what’s happening in, say, New York or Sao Paolo or Stockholm or, yes, Calgary, there’s a tab for you to explore. (There’s no tab, yet, for St. John’s.) Much of what played for me fell into ambient and techno-lite themes, regardless of the city.
Mario, Obama. Obama, Mario. The old-school Nintendo game gets a presidential makeover as a wee li’l Barack collects points and such. Use your arrow keys and space bar in this streamlined game.
Enjoy making lists of your favourite movies, songs and such? Listal is the place for you; you can post just those types of things, as starting points, or go into very specific subcategories, like many of the users. A healthy place for a pop-culture fanatic to hang out for a while.
10 things we don't understand about humans
Why do humans blush? And why do teenagers take so long to, well, turn into adults? New Scientist collects a set of questions for which there are theories, but not necessarily answers.
History of punctuation
The question mark and exclamation point didn’t just appear in our sentences; this very short illustrated history offers the lowdown on those dots and marks.