wethr tz noblR in teh mind...
I'm sure I got some of that wrong, but then, what is wrong in that kind of shorthand? Now, before you click away to a different blog muttering under your breath about another English degree snob complaining about grammar on the internet, let me assure you this is not that post. I merely wanted to make an illustration, and I'll follow it up with a "sentence" I typed yesterday:
/23 01 090523 127.58 /clt req bkdat to ab 090517 and cwe 090523 to 090606 for part /wks pended for mon
A prize to anyone who can accurately translate that into human.
Shorthand is great. It allows us to communicate complex ideas with minimal effort and to disseminate those ideas to an audience wider than most common people could dream of even a decade or two ago. Personally, I haven't jumped on the Twitter bandwagon, though I've known of it for a while, and even told some of my tech-savvy friends about it before every news outlet in the country started doing a story-a-night about the service. It's more laziness and apathy than any kind of technophobia or anti-conformity that's kept me away, but I am intrigued by the immediacy of the medium. Twitter is about right now. Twitter has no past.
Sure, you can look at old posts, and I'm sure every tweet ever sent is archived in a bunker somewhere (I like to imagine one of those old computers with the reel-to-reel). But when the question is, "What are you doing?", nobody cares what you HAVE done. That creates an interesting situation from a different perspective.
Historians of the future are going to have at their disposal a wealth of knowledge for their subjects' intimate lives that has never been available in history. I visited the Meadowcroft rock shelter in Washington County, Pennsylvania with some friends over the weekend. The site is an important archaeological artifact because it features tools and remains from hunting parties dating back to around 16,000 years ago. What did archaeologists learn from this? Probably a lot. What did I learn from it? That prehistoric rednecks liked to hunt deer as much as modern rednecks [author's note: this comment is meant in fun. Venison is delicious, especially with some Speedies marinade and it doesn't make you a redneck]. For modern figures, we have a lot more to go on.
Of course, that's in the short term. Historians looking back to our time from beyond the zombie apocalypse; those who have lost the signifiers of our shorthand, are going to have it rough. Think about reading Shakespeare today, and then imagine it all as tweets or message board posts. Hell, think about Wikigroaning (comparing the size of two Wikipedia entries based on real and fanciful subjects, i.e.: electric power and Saiyan power levels) and what to make of that without any context. Of course, the data decay I mentioned in one of my earlier posts makes all of this even more difficult, but I think the hardest thing for historians of the future will be finding anything interesting worth discussing at all.
OK, so the internet was developed in our time, but otherwise, I'm having difficulty thinking of much that's happened in my lifetime that I'd insist on being taught to elementary students. However, the things that seem to survive the historical record are the conquerors, the diseases and the disasters, so I can't complain too much.
So I return the focus to the present, our mindset of the new century. In asking "What are you doing?", Twitter and Facebook and the like focus the mind on the now. Thinking about it, it's quite a gift. From the mindfulness admonitions of Buddhism and Hindu thought to the Jewish proverb telling us not to worry about tomorrow because it hasn't happened yet, we've been told that all along we should have been focusing on where we were and what we were doing. Yoda tried to get that message through to a young Luke...mayB he shud hav tweeted it B4 any1 lost a hand.