Twitter is so interesting…

Wow I’m starting to get swept up in this digital world. I really didn’t think it would happen, as it all felt so foreign and bizarre to me at first. But I guess it’s like going to see a Shakespeare play [which I did just the other week]. When you first begin to watch, nothing makes sense and it sounds like gibberish. Then half way through you suddenly realise you have been understanding everything, that something in your brain just clicked and you became attuned to it.

Wow I think I just compared Shakespeare to Twitter and just made a whole bunch of people really angry and a whole bunch of other people really excited!!

So, I subscribe to and receive weekly e-newsletters. This week I clicked on the email in the hope of finding a digital media related arts article.

Lucky for me, I found a article entitled ‘Ai Weiwei published images of himself in hospital on Twitter’ – JACKPOT!

I have recently joined Twitter myself, so I thought I’d jump on to find his posts.

At first I thought I found him, or someone using his name – AiWeiwie –  but this user only had one tweet. He had just over 1000 followers, but was only following one person. Someone called aiww,  this user had made many tweets in Chinese characters, nearly 8000 followers and following nearly 2000 people. I wasn’t 100% who it was, but I started to follow him.

I did a Google search for ‘Ai Weiwei Twitter’ and found a the Twitter account for the CDTimes, an online Chinese newspaper, which gave me a link to an article about one of Ai Weiwei’s blogs and how it had allegedly been shut down. This was getting interesting.

On the left side bar of this article page I saw a link to another report of the story of Ai Weiwie in hospital in Germany and I found myself coming online full circle. This article also gave me a definitive link to Ai Weiwei’s Twitter page – which turned out to be the mystery account I started following earlier.

I was also introduced to Ethan Zuckerman’s blog which promised an English translation of one of Ai’s tweets. Some of his other blog comments opened up a whole new group of ideas, some of which almost read my ‘online’ mind.

Please read:

I’m interested in Ai Weiwei’s story on at least two levels. First, it’s fascinating to think about the story of a celebrated artist becoming an activist and becoming such a threat to power structures that police would risk detaining and beating him, knowing the potential international attention it could attract. (Rebecca MacKinnon’s interview with Ai Weiwei is useful for understanding his rapid move into activism and politics.) Given his existing fame, it seems like detaining or injuring Ai Weiwei would be an extremely dangerous way to attract attention to the controversy over Chengdu schools.

For me, there’s another level of fascination, which has to do with contemporary newsgathering and newsreading. I hadn’t planned to write about Chinese activism and free speech today – and there are a few editors to whom I owe drafts who likely wish I hadn’t just spent two hours reading about Ai Weiwei and his situation. But one feature of digital media is that it can make you vulnerable to ephemeral obsessions, topics that pique your interest and demand a deep dive, if only to understand the facts of the story.

Ethan pinpoints my current online experience, of how rich and compelling digital media and information can be. How there exists out there an extension of our world, so real and so palpable and so full of both mystery and truth, sometimes so difficult to distinguish between.

And here is the promised translation:

Update: a friend offers a translation of a recent Twitter post from Ai Weiwei: ” Here the newest photos. Surgery lasted 2 hours, 2 holes in the skull, 30 ml of blood have been extracted, the pressure on the brain is normal again, no head ache any more.” So, good news. Here’s a photo of Ai Weiwei recovering in bed in Munich.

In summary of my experience, there is so much out there and as I’m getting used to this foreign world, I thought I’d share my Twitter-journey with you.

And just because it seems to be becoming my thing, I’d like to finish with a semi-related, semi-unrelated youtube clip.


8 Responses to “Twitter is so interesting…”

  1. Damien Daunt Says:

    I just got on board with Twitter recently too! I never “got” Twitter, but that was because I never understood HOW it was used. I had the idea that Twitter users get an account, then get all their friends to get an account and then they just tweet each other asinine status updates, like what they had for breakfast. I didn’t realise that when combined with searching it’s much much more like being able to participate instantly in any number of discussions, and follow other people’s tweets on that topic as well. If you include agreed search term in your tweet, (“#” converts the word into a search term, recent ones for me have been #iSnack and #hungry beast) then your tweet appears to anyone who conducts a search on that term. Instantly you’re not just communicating with your followers, but everyone who is tweeting on that topic. I’ve had comments back from complete strangers to tell me they agree/disagree and give their opinion as well. Twitter should be judged as a medium of exchange, rather than on the content of a handful of tweets

    • jensblog22 Says:

      Thanks for that Damien. I didn’t know that. I recently joined Twitter too but have so far only read other discussions instead of posting my own. When I do get posting I’ll keep that in mind when looking for other discussions.

  2. lisamonique Says:

    Wow that is pretty cool and I certainly didn’t know that, as I am quite a new user 🙂 But that sounds like a really interesting way of communicating with the entire Twitter world – a bit overwhelming 🙂 Thanks for your comment!

  3. Lucy Says:

    hi Lisa, nice to see Ai Weiwei’s info in your blog. I reckon you are following the right person, because the first one is ” Aiweiwie”, but the artist’s name should be Ai Weiwei (艾未未). he’s father was a famous poet, so Aiww has a privilege in the intellectual industry ever since he was born. and he also has a strong western culture background.

    oh, his father Ai Qing (艾青), was once a student in my college in China. But i am not familiar with his works. hehe~

    • lisamonique Says:

      Thanks Lucy! Yes he is quite an interesting artist, thanks for your comment and for clarifying that I found the right Twitter Account! 🙂

  4. mrtaurus Says:

    Hi there! Thank you for that post. Brilliant just brilliant. And interesting comments.

    I am actually curating a project in London for Ai Weiwei’s capture-awareness and release. It is called The Chinese Whisper Project (Chinesewhisperproject.worpress), and I am looking to do an exhibition using art as a symbol of unique interpretation and freedom of expression. Hopefully I’ll have 25 peices of art to exhibit from 5 unique artists. You’d be so welcome to come! I guess it’s about pulling together and standing for our rights. Especially in an age of social media power. I’ve put a project video plan up on the blog and on youtube too – it would be great if you could find an outlet to let readers know.

    Many thanks! Keep up the good work.

    p.s. i’m on twitter: ChineseTwhisper
    p.p.s. I’ve added your blog to my links on the site

    • lisamonique Says:

      Hi, thanks for your post! It’s been ages since I’ve looked at this blog, which was actually part of an assignment for a Masters project a few years back. It’s been nice to revisit it thanks to your reminder. And even inspired me to possibly pick up where I left off when I finally finish my Masters and have the time.

      Wow, your project looks amazing! If I am in London anytime soon I’ll definitely look it up. I’ll go on the website and try to find a mailing list to join, if you have one. It’s pretty crazy what’s going on with Ai Weiwei in China at the moment, and incredible the impact it’s having on everyone. Good luck with the project!

    • lisamonique Says:

      P.S. I’ve just started following you on Twitter from ObscuraGallery, we have a blog too and would be happy to post about your project there. Will do so in the next week or so [when I get a minute] and I’ll send you the link.

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