I had a moment of recognition this morning. I was looking through Twitter and noticed Thomas Saunders saying something that caught my attention:
twitter as the morning newspaper ( a good read with coffee ): http://bit.ly/1enCZg
I smiled because without even clicking the link, I knew where it went. I was right, and took a moment to re-read David's post from three weeks back. I read David's blog and he reads mine. And I read Thomas' blog, and both of them on Twitter. And what creates a connection between these two moments of writing is my relationships to the authors. It would be nothing more than a link, nothing more than technology, except for friendship.
David writes in his post:
Twitter is not email and while it has many (evolving) uses I've found the best metaphor for explaining how my friends and I use it is a much simpler technology: the newspaper. [ed: emphasis mine]
Notice how his discussion of Twitter is connected to his friends. The experience of the web, or, my experience of it, is the experience of a local community. Its localness is constructed, and the community enabled, by technology (David and I live on opposite sides of Canada, and I don't even know where Thomas lives). However, I would argue that this constructedness is similar to the kind of artificial community that the local paper provides; similar but not the same, for we read the local paper together, but we read and write the web together.
The broadsheet, when it first appeared, allowed one to read the people they knew, about the topics they were experiencing, and the places they where they lived. It was local by virtue of the fact that it couldn't be created daily and come from anywhere other than here. The local newspaper, where they still exist, plays a similar role. It presents to me my community, and would not interest you if I saved it for you to read. The newspaper, as it has come to be, has needed to find similar landmarks in order to provide us with a common landscape. Where we once read about local stores, schools, and people, now we read about international corporations, institutions, and celebrities.
Twitter, blogs, and all the rest of what I call the web, differ from the newspaper in many ways, but the most important of them is the fact that one is read-only, and the other I can read and write. That difference is what enables me to write this now. Just as the local school's sports scores make no sense in a national newspaper, my relationship to two people writing on the web is not worth printing. But it's worth writing, and it's worth reading, and the web understands this. As David has argued elsewhere, we're replacing the media's artificially constructed nationalism with local, human, and I would add friendly, participatory media. We want to appear in the discussions, and since the media isn't interested in this, we take our discussion elsewhere.