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Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

Something even weirder than normal is happening on Thucydides Twitter. I hesitate to use the word ‘invasion’ because of its association with the UK government’s racist anti-migrant rhetoric, but certainly I feel like a scientist in the opening act of one of those movies, puzzled by the suddenly anomalous behaviour of the pond snails he’s been studying, not realising that this is just one small segment of a rapid montage, the dots that will not be joined by anyone except the viewer until Act Two… (more…)

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If Elon Musk is going to destroy the Bird Site, inadvertently or not – the reported wheeze that everyone will get a timeline prioritising tweets from $8/month ‘verified’ users suggests he doesn’t have the faintest idea what makes it great for many people – I am hoping that he either takes his time (couple of years, say) or gets it over with in the next couple of weeks. I have a chapter forthcoming, at some point in the next year or so, exploring references to Thucydides on Twitter both as a window onto his image in contemporary culture and as a snapshot of the dynamics of social media. It would be nice if Twitter retained something of its current significance when the chapter appears – or, I urgently need to rewrite some sections substantially before the book goes to press, to explain why anyone thought this stuff was worth worrying about back in 2019…

This past week has been very much a matter of “you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til some pampered egomaniac has stomped all over it and it’s gone’. (more…)

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‘Doom-scrolling’ is, I imagine, a familiar thing, that many of us have been doing far too much of lately. You may not, however, have come across ‘professional doom-scrolling’, which unfortunately does not mean you get paid for it, but rather involves justification of the activity through some sort of “but I have to do this for work”, addressed to frustrated loved ones and even to ourselves, to explain how this is not simply a deeply unhealthy bit of obsessive behaviour. It’s relevant to this piece I’m working on; I need to cover related issues in class next week; there’s a developing methodological debate that connects to my area. This practice is quite distinct from what we might call ‘catastrophe dissemination’, the uncontrollable urge to link current events to one’s own research in order to write topical social media posts and would-be popular comment pieces, although the professional doom-scroller may indeed end up writing such pieces as a doubling-down on their original justification for spending a deeply problematic amount of time on the Twitter. (more…)

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There are basically two kinds of opinion piece on the place of technology in higher education. A: anything which potentially distracts students’ attention from my dispensing of Truth in the time-honoured manner must be banished! Down with laptops, mobile phones and ballpoint pens! B: get with the programme, daddio! All the hip youth is on TikTok now so we must convert our mouldy old lectures into 15-second dance clips! (more…)

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Our Friends Electric

About this time last year, I think, I was asked to contribute to a PGR training course, for a session covering social media and blogging. It never happened due to the strike action at the end of the autumn term – and that is starting to feel like a really serious gap in those students’ training. It should now be obvious that this topic deserves more emphasis than being scheduled in December (by which time, one suspects, student attention may be dropping off), going hand in hand with a different focus: this is not (just) about public engagement and self-publicity, an optional extra that tends to reinforce the idea that PGRs and ECRs are expected to do more and more to have any chance of an academic career. Rather, in this new world, it looks more and more like THE essential toolkit for networking, in the absence of conferences and the like, since the informal networking element is precisely the aspect of conferences it’s hardest to replicate online. (more…)

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Doubling Down

As the old proverb (sometimes attributed to Solon) has it, gods, give me the confidence of a mediocre white man on the Internet. Am I being hasty and unfair, leaping to judgement on the basis of fleeting interactions with ‘The Mystic’ (brooding headshot with goatee, quote about chaos and perfection, cover image of some heavily tattooed wrestlers) or AwesomeDude (avatar of a dog, cover image of a Dilbert cartoon)?* Yes, quite possibly. But if they not only ascribe that wretched ‘The society that separates its scholars from its warriors…” quote to Thucydides, but firmly reject gentle correction from the Thucydides Bot, they’re gonna get judged… (more…)

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Sprechen Sie Thukydideisch? I don’t know why it hasn’t occurred to me before to check for Thucydides references in other languages on the Twitter – I did it back when I was playing around with Google ngrams – but it took an error this morning to push me in this direction, leaving off the ‘s’ at the end and suddenly finding a lot of French tweets. Nowhere near as many per day as you get in English, unsurprisingly, but a lot of references to la piège de Thucydide, a certain number of references to the Castoriadis book that I still need to get round to reading, and evidence that someone has gone to the trouble of translating “the society that separates its scholars from its warriors…” so that it can be misattributed in French as well. (more…)

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One assumes that it’s something to do with the imminence of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Remortgage Wednesday and the rest of the run-up to Christmas, but in the last week or so a couple of very strange accounts have appeared on the Twitter. One (“Towoti Group”) has a profile picture of Ryan Gosling, the other (which has now disappeared completely ) had picture of Jake Gyllenhaal, and they tweet punctiliously every fifteen minutes, on a regular cycle of advert, advert, Thucydides quote, advert, advert, Thucydides quote. The quote is always “The secret of happiness is freedom… the secret of freedom is courage”; the adverts are mostly for women’s clothing, with the occasional LED illuminated bracelet, Christmas elf costume for your dog or cat, 90% human hair hairdressing training mannequin head, and so forth. I have questions… (more…)

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Last week I was at a fantastic conference in Newcastle on Authority and Contemporary Narratives about the Classics (details here), discussing different aspects of the image and appropriation of the ancient world in the public sphere; Rebecca Futo Kennedy gave the full version of the discussion of the history and problematic politics of ‘Western Civilization’ that she’s been trailing on the Twitter (@kataplexis if you don’t already follow her), and there were fascinating papers on topics like postgraduate blogging, the intersection of ideas on Roman imperialism and Realist international relations theory, concepts of myth in Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, and whether Livy was a good Wikpedian. As ever, the main problem was that we needed much more time for discussion – well, that, and the fact that I could carry only so many bottles of local craft beer home with me. (more…)

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One of my main aims, in monitoring references to Thucydides on the Twitter, is to keep a sense of proportion. Partly this is about relative scale: fifteen fake quotations in a day is a lot, relative to normal traffic in this area – but given that over 6,000 tweets get fired off every second, it’s thoroughly negligible in the greater scheme of things. Similarly, it’s about remembering that my view of this is very odd; for me, a tweet may be the sixth tedious repetition of the misattributed ‘Scholars and Warriors’ quote that afternoon, but for the person tweeting it this is generally the first time they’ve done it, having found a really neat quote that sums up the point they want to make perfectly. Even with that annoying Social Jukebox system I aim to stay civil unless it’s from a user whom I’ve attempted to correct many times and so I know they won’t pay any attention anyway, and if there’s the faintest possibility that I’m dealing with a real person tweeting in good faith, I do my best to interact in the spirit of truth, not snark. (more…)

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