Feb 212011
 

Ever been enthused by an issue you felt compelled to discuss with your fellow human beings, only to discover they:

  1. didn’t understand your enthusiasm;
  2. thought you were really ‘out there’;
  3. held different views & wouldn’t voice them; or
  4. held opposing views, and couldn’t voice them without resorting to name-calling & abuse?

Supposedly social media would enable those of us who were seriously enamoured of the genuinely social chat about issues which concerned us. Supposedly. Facebook is only for ‘friends’ – whatever that’s supposedly mean – cannot be realtime by it’s very construction and as I’ve found, if you ‘friend’ someone that some else on your list doesn’t like, you run the risk of offending both parties or more.

Twitter is quite simply the reverse. It’s open slather, no clearly defined context even with dedicated hashtags appended to one’s tweets, and with it’s baseline 140 character limit, is hardly conducive to in-depth discussion. You tend to spend more time deciphering the abbreviations than discussing. Yes, I know deck.ly has come along now, automatically shortening & storing longer than 140 characters into a realtime URL-based recovery mechanism, but that requires the user to physically leave the Tweetdeck client, read the tweet & return to the client. If you don’t use or have access to Tweetdeck, you’re stuck with 140 characters, like it or lump it. Twitter by it’s very anarchical nature is also a free-for-all across the platform, which makes it a troll’s paradise. Anyone for any reason can barge into your discussion, disrupt it, troll the daylights out of you & your interlocutor(s) until desperation creates a no-win scenario for all bar the troll. You want to see this in action? Drop into #auspol sometime & evidence the anarchical nature of non-discussion at work.

I’ve tried the discussion forum thing, which seems to be too formal for many folk who seem dedicated to simply starting a Twitter client & typing away. No registration, no rules, just sheer anarchy for the hell of it. Yes, forums take time & effort, but I reckon if you’re serious, you’ll make the time and effort. Sadly, it seems there aren’t many serious people around. So I’m going to try something more informal, more ‘twitter’-ish. If you’re old enough, you’ll recall the fore-runner of all chat mediums, Internet Relay Chat. IRC. Simplistic if that’s what you want, or highly sophisticated if you understand the scripting medium. It’s not hard to learn. It’s also a place where one can have one’s own ‘channel’ or ‘room’. Where privacy from the ever-present fuck-knuckles can be had if so desired. Where moderated meetings can be held or in the extreme, entire ‘channels’ or ‘rooms’ made undetectable by those not in the know.

So, to that end, I’ve scoped out a few of the local networks and settled on induced_dot_net. I’ve registered the channel name #ausense and my Twitter nick of ‘capn_callis’ . I intend to fire up my IRC client – I use mIRC which is shareware for 30 days, after which you’re expected to buy the software for US$20 – by 1800 hours AEST daily and keep it open until 2300 hours AEST. There are other clients for other operating systems, one need only search for results. I am extending an invitation to all readers to join me in #ausense to discuss either the topic of the day, or indeed any issue they feel like talking about. I chose IRC for its flexibility. Those who are familiar with the medium will understand what I mean.

mIRC

I can but try to seek genuine interest from those who claim to be interested in discussion of matters which concern us all on a daily basis. Social, political, ideological, historical, educational, the field is wide open. It’s patently clear to me that Twitter simply doesn’t cut the mustard. Perhaps #ausense on Induced_dot_net will prove more satisfactory, more civil and more productive.