How do you print an 11×17 page from a pdf file? We tried to print it to an Epson 1400 and were unable to get more than about half the page. It turns out there is an “Advanced” button in the print dialog that allows you to print the page as a graphic image. Check that box. Weird, obscure, terrible. I have two Epson printers at home. The ancient one prints fine and we can still get cartridges for it. The other one, a pro 4800 has the most inconsistent and terrible drivers in the world. This seems to be running true with this photo 1400 as well. Who would think to go to the Advanced button to print a page which by all accounts looks like it will print fine with generic settings in the dialog box?
I thought I should get closer to my friends, and one thing I did was to get an account at twitter.com. I’ve had some fun with it. I am keeping in touch with the friend I wanted to and bumping into another world that is interesting on its own terms.
Marshal McLuhan said “The medium is the message” in the book Understanding Media. He said, “In a culture like ours, long accustomed to splitting and dividing all things as a means of control, it is sometimes a bit of a shock to be reminded that, in operational and practical fact, the medium is the message. This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium—that is, of any extension of ourselves—result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology.” (p. 7)
This is an entry about twitter.com. The medium of near-instant status updates, often with strangers that are interesting to us, and interested in us creates a community that, for all its random, serendipitous, occasional, and absurd content and context, nevertheless provides a community that is at once personal, transparent, and engaging. One learns quickly that one cannot say anything on one’s mind, but there is an appropriate protocol. These distant relations, made close by the magic of the internet and a society that hungers for contact nevertheless engenders a sense of responsibility to be the best we can be, at least true, even if that truth is buried in an alias.
Can one stalk in twitter? Sure. But then are there any public forums where it is not possible to stalk? No. Security is only as good as the paranoia and kung fu of the developer. It is also not possible always to detect who the stalkers are. But that doesn’t mean we can hide and not present ourselves, allowing the damaged and terrorizing elements in our society to rule our behavior. That doesn’t mean that ordinary caution should not be used. But, that caution should match the necessity of the medium.
Since anyone on twitter can see my tweets, I shouldn’t think that what I’m saying is private, even though what I’m saying is personal. The risk of abandoning privacy for the hope of interesting connections is the nature of the twitter game. The question becomes, Is the hope of community worth the risk of exposing my soul?
I stumbled across http://omegle.com. In it you can have a chat with total strangers. I talked to a university student in Britain. My daughter has carried on numerous chats with people from all over the world. If you can imagine, twitter.com is more personal, because you choose to follow the people and groups you do. You can carry on long term relationships with people, follow their interests and lives. The medium is the message. How do we interpret that message? Is the message that we can be connected, even though we are strangers? Or, that humans are social creatures? Or, that connectedness leaves us less lonely? Or, that information is more than merely data to be stored then used?
I think the message is something like this. The internet and all its social structures are essentially human and the metaphor that the internet can be understood as a form of biological life becomes more complete, the more we populate the medium. There is as much to fear and as much to hope for in this digital world as there is in ordinary life.
From Friday, 24 April, Tweet Bomb.