Nobody knows how many words I've written. Even a fancy algorithm couldn't grep and count all those words. For that matter, how much writing can be done can hardly be known about anyone, except perhaps the kids who have been increasingly relying on digital implements. We leave traces of ourselves in our writing, from childhood to adolescence and onward. Doesn't it seem we have been putting these words down on the page, or screen, more these days and if so how much more? There are various levels of speech now on various networks and messaging systems, and the way you speak to a friend, as opposed to a group of friends, colleagues, strangers, varies in all these scenarios. When it comes to producing a written piece as a work of art, an autobiography, story or other, does this matter more or less than what we have written otherwise, for school regarding topics of academic interest?
I'm not sure people really care that much to read a story about a secret society of vampire bartenders, but then it doesn't quite come down to just legacy. People write to write, to figure stuff out, see what happens along the way, whether for work or not. But, as I've done less writing now than in the past three years for work, I want to be able to rest at night, knowing I've written something that is just my own, my own words, free of the trademarks, names and symbols that I've been processing through my brain, ingesting the terms and use cases, using more words, general words to formulate the reader's perception of whatever manmade thing or idea I need to describe, writing to ensure intended functionality, per design.
It is tantalizing to write that vampire story, or any story, and I suppose that even if I start now, it would take a long way for those brief words, a book, to become my legacy against those hundreds, maybe thousands of pages I have translated to English or edited. In the digital realm, if I were to vanish, my words are really someone else's or feeling only partially mine. Nobody sees my signature or handwriting in this place. Perhaps I should focus on publishing more in my own hand.
My boss asserted people don't read anymore. I get what he means. They read fewer books, fewer fiction than they did previously. While that may be true, it doesn't deter me from writing to claim a new idea, to win my mind back after years of writing for others (for a living, a good one I think).
Another thing: software code is writing. If I write a durable framework for music education - tracking progress allowing students to reference standard metronomes, falsetas, and educational resources in one dashboard. That could be just as worthwhile as a good vampire story, and in the case of software, few would even read the code. Even better : )
Group messaging is scary. Is that why chatrooms went away and now we have something in between with Twitter? Not quite static but not real time either. There is so much noise and malfeasance it's harder than ever to be heard and get a response in real time. As a result, we get the default treatment, and retreat into peer-to-peer digital worlds, where conversations revolve around consensus as the basis, the baseline, which comes with a sense of safety that was otherwise gained by political and group action out on the streets, discussions and political force was aligned in person, naysayers squelched. It all feels foreign and real, too real, having attended a political roundtable following this most recent election, where panelists framed the current predicament, who on the left and right are to blame, who are those around us who kill advancement toward a true liberal democracy..
Has group chat lost its currency to the forum, to the semi-live safety and "followerships" of Twitter and Facebook?
When you get a default version of a browser you get news, mainstream outlets, you don't get a direct means to connect to others. With AOL that seemed to be the point. You instantly were connected through Aol's instant messenger. This felt like the whole point of the internet; now it's all gummed up with media. That whole idea that this was meant to connect people has been lost in favor of cornering the individual into a mindset; to sell them ideas.. Maybe Twitter is supposed to be that version of a group online platform, but it is still feeling static, with each user accessing their account through their own page, cross-posting, direct posting; it is jockeying based on identity as much as it is about proposing some idea about politics, art, or publishing truth about recent events, your own events or others.
Even if a group assembles its numbers via an online platform, it is really a bunch of individuals in separate rooms creating peer-to-peer connections - publishing something to a group kind of feels cheap and invisible. The closest thing approximating an online group conversation is the chatroom, it solidified each person's opinions in a single group thread, in real time and their wasn't an ego aspect like there is today - Twitter handles are equated with identity (nobody makes a silly username or handle anymore that would obscure their id) because improving your identity on the internet is valued as it is memorable and lasting, so there is a strong disincentive to tarnishing it.
The medium was the conversation, a thread which was condensed into continuous lines that wouldn't have to be presented via a browser refresh. I find few platforms provide that room mechanism in their usual service and they do so to reduce noise and increase quality of service, but the price we pay is that the noise adds an atmosphere, a human element that allows us to realize that conversation is inherently fallible, dependent on a certain timeframe, context. While a forum conversation allows fully formed ideas to persist, I think it gives a false idea that it suffices as conversation.
Therefore, to find any group online in a facebook group or meetup group is you getting the static representation, at the date last updated. You wouldn't know from the platform what the group is like. The real time conversation is lost and the image the group fabricates to gain followers and traction in a mediated society, is what you see as the group: the salient viewpoints on a poster, which is an image, not a conversation. See NYTimes posts that have a gold seal at the corner of the post window.
On Twitter you are presented with the person's handle, who they directed their message to, and their character-limited message, all these aspects of conversation undermine the message. When we focus on individuals, we focus less on actual progress toward a goal and instead indulge in the legend of an image, how this can prop up identity and lore in the virtual world. Being human today is more about fabricating a virtual self and proving it via platforms than it is about solidifying positive impact in real terms, and I feel sorry that I have not been more aware to frame my own impact in real terms, following the impact my work has had. As a translator, I haven't been able to that. All the typos corrected and words written are not consumable or enjoyable moments. They are preventive measures. To see nothing would be to see success, contradicting the whole purpose of following my work to see its effect.
Why did the growth of social platforms outpace that of groups with the old school chatroom? This reason may have more to do with how humans identify with each other, and prefer talking to one another than a group, because it feels safer. Nobody can gang up on you at that instant, you can more easily hide away. Of course, bullying can transcend instances and be constant and relentless.
When it comes to gaining a consensus and support, it's ostensibly more effective to raise funds for a cause if you do so for a single person, suggesting you can drive change more effectively by informing about the cause via the case of a single individual, rather than a disadvantaged group:
http://ww2.kqed.org/news/2017/01/06/nicholas-kristof-how-do-we-change-the-world/ [at around 21 minutes]. I think aid organizations have caught onto this, but people are smarter than to believe they are donating to the person they see in a promotional pamphlet.
Write, post, publish, prophet!