Don't blame me for creating stories on Twitter, says Stephen Fry
Mercedes Bunz Tuesday 17 November 2009 11.23 GMT
The millions of Twitter users make stories - I only point them in a direction, says Stephen Fry in speech to conference
Stephen Fry, speaking today at the 140 Characters Conference in London, said:
"There is a power of Twitter. We can't deny it any more, well for sure not as a celebrity Twitterer. A year ago, nearly no one heard about Twitter. But things move so fast today - and the bewilderment, content, disbelief with which Twitter was greeted ...
They called it the most banal and pointless waste of time. And do you know what they say now? Now they say: Our Twitter strategy is ...
It is a very odd thing when people think they are being smart when they speak not as humans but as business people. They say, I need a phone that does this, I need a social network that does that. You know what? I know a lot of executives that lead big companies, and they talk about what excites them and what convinces them. They are driven as human beings.
And you know what? Before humans are reasoning, they are emotional beings. With gadgets you communicate with other people, and therefore this is an emotional internet that you have. Not just plain function. It will come as no surprise that as the next big thing it wasn't designed as business for business. Twitter was created to babble to each other. Remember it was called Twitter and not serious debate or marketing tool.
It is important for all of us to understand its nature. It is human shaped, not business shaped. And the swell will move elsewhere if you try to make it all neat and attractive. The greatness and the magnitude of its energy will all move.
Think of Twitter or the internet like the invention of the printing press. 1450 - when there were no printed books and about 500 years later there were 20m. The press became available for a great number of people. There was a new freedom of the press. This caused upheavals. Huge numbers of magazines, broadsheets and pamphlets were published. And the most popular ones were not called "the Debate". They were called the Idler or the Spectator.
There was no class more contemptuous of Twitter than the commentating journalists. Why should we care about what Britney Spears had for breakfast, they said. So may I ask you, why do you write about it in the paper? The journalists said, who needs this Twitter thing and in the next moment you read: Follow the Daily Mail on Twitter at ...
But like with the printing press, Twitter changed the situation. People like me, Twillionaires [people with more than a million followers], we can cut out the press from our PR requirements. It used to be a pact with the devil. You wanted to inform the press about a new film and they said they will interview you, but only if they are allowed to ask you around other themes about your private life. Today, Britney Spears tells her PR manager, why should I care about that this journalist of this newspaper with big circulations, I will reach this circulation just by typing into my keyboard.
So well, whole newspapers are on the one side filled with resentment against Twitter, on the other side they are using it and searching Twitter messages. By the way, have you recognised, they are using it as a feed, the deadwood press doesn't say stream. Puzzling.
Then there are good moments. There was the case of Trafigura, which forbade the Guardian to write about it. It caused a storm on Twitter, which I joined in quite late as that morning I came from the gym - it is pathetic, I can't believe I said that but it is true, and the thing reached such a heat by 1pm or 2pm that the lawyers had to do something about it. This can be considered a victory.
Or a journalist from the Daily Mail wrote about something very awful which happened to affect a friend of mine, although I don't make a big deal about that fact. But I saw this brilliant answer from Charlie Brooker and so commented and pointed there. And then they said, 'Who the hell does Stephen Fry think he is forbidding this journalist to think freely?' Well I never did.
But because of the weight of my numbers I am now credited or blamed for inventing these stories. But this is not the way Twitter works. The Twitter millions create the story. You can only point them in a direction. It is like with your parents, when you come home and say you did this because a friend told you and they go like: well if he told you to stick your head in the fire, would you do that?
Twitter is about participating - by which I mean you tweet and read other people's tweets. Then you understand it, and get its rhythm. But remember: It is about being authentic. These things are human-shaped."
Fry is afraid that Twitter will be swamped by PR professionals. What do you think?
Monday, 30 November 2009
Don't blame me for creating stories on Twitter, says Stephen Fry
Tuesday, 3 November 2009
By Tom Chivers
Published: 3:51PM GMT 03 Nov 2009
The miscarriage Tweet from Penelope Trunk Photo: TWITTER Penelope Trunk, who describes herself as an author, blogger and entrepreneur, wrote: “I’m in a board meeting. Having a miscarriage. Thank goodness, because there’s a f------up 3-week hoop-jump to have an abortion in Wisconsin.”
Within a few hours, via the 20,000 followers of her Twitter account @penelopetrunk, the news made it on to CNN, The New York Times, ABC news and even Oprah.
She told one magazine: “It’s no different to me saying what I had for lunch. I thought nothing of it until the horrified followers’ replies started flooding in.”
Miss Trunk, 42, is a mother of two, a five-year-old and a seven-year-old. She had previously had two miscarriages, and had booked an appointment at an abortion clinic after discovering in August that she was pregnant once more.
Commenters have accused her of heartlessness, and a CNN interviewer asked if she had “no shame”. However, Miss Trunk argues that the real issue is the three-week wait for an clinic appointment in Wisconsin which would have forced her to travel to Chicago, Illinois, for her abortion.
She told CNN: “It seems everyone in the whole world would prefer a miscarriage to an abortion, even the Pope.”
She rejected the idea that her reaction shows a lack of compassion. "The first time I had a miscarriage I was sad about it, and it was a very typical experience," she told ABC. "But I think it's limiting that it's only OK to talk about miscarriages if you're sad about it."
She adds: “I was just stating a fact. To those who call me callous for being so matter-of-fact about losing a baby, I ask, what do you want from me?
“Do you expect me to cry every time I talk about it? It’s a fact: I’m happy I lost that baby.”
Miss Trunk has had plenty of support from the blogosphere. Rachel Walden, in the Women's Health News blog, said: "The idea that miscarriage is something personal that should be kept secret whether a woman wants to keep it secret or not, when so so many women have them, is a problem.
"The idea that people's bodies should effectively be hidden from the work environment where we spend so much of our time is problematic in its own ways."
Amanda Marcotte on XX Factor, a women’s issues blog, agreed, saying: "If the public at large had to face up to the fact that not every miscarriage is met with a vale of tears, that could have a dramatic impact on how we regard pregnancy, abortion, and women's diverse experiences with our reproductive functions”.
As a new book claims Britain is under the tyranny of email, James Delingpole owns up to a compulsion that is affecting his friendships, family and working life. Article is available at The Telegraph
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