now you react to my repost


a reminder © Raffaella Loro

I had a rather full weekend and haven't had time to type up my review/reflection of the symphony performance from last Thursday. I will be posting it on COLLECTed because I have assembled my thoughts in a more formalized narrative format and less stream of consciousness as I am apt to do here. But I do have some thoughts that I would rather share here than try to work into my story. I attended the symphony as part of a group who received tickets in exchange for participating in an ongoing new media experiment to promote the ESO. Our little group included bloggers and tweeters and we sat clustered together near the back of the second balcony, where hopefully the glow of the various mobile devices of the tweeters would be less obtrusive and less offensive to other symphony patrons. There has been some mild controversy
over the live-tweeting experiment and following numerous conversations with Phil (the ESO's New Media Specialist) and other assorted friends and coworkers, I would like to provide my own simplified musings on the topic. There are always people who have felt inclined to record and document. Our history is a progression of these changing methods of documentation and communication - moving from an oral culture to a written culture, radio, television, the internet, etc, etc. But before the advent of digital devices that has loosened our grasp of pen and paper, how did people record their thoughts in a world without twitter? I have this dreamy notion of people wandering around with a journal or notepad tucked away in their breast pockets (not really all that far fetched since I still carry a little book with me), pulling it out to scribble down something of interest. I wonder how many people have replaced that notepad with a smart phone? Sometimes I like to think of twitter as that notebook, except in this online version our notebook starts writing back to us. Between our scribblings words magically appear, posing questions, rallying alongside with us or letting us know of something interesting that we might have missed. Except of course it is not so simple of a comparison. Recording something in a notebook momentarily removes us from an experience. We are pausing to jot something down (and I'll focus just on writing here - photography is another matter) and for the time it takes us to write it down, that becomes our experience. But after our momentary disappearance we return. With twitter or other online applications (like crackbook) our disappearances can extend to longer and longer periods. Life is full of these disappearances, our engagement varies based on levels of awareness. Depending on the situation the 'acceptable' level of awareness changes. And so the debate begins, what is an acceptable level of awareness while attending the symphony? Our behaviour has long been shaped/directed by our situation. Certain behaviours are deemed more acceptable depending on the context. At a rock concert an audience is expected to be more raucous and participatory. Dancing is encouraged (depending on the venue) - the atmosphere is generally more chaotic and wild compared to the sedate formality of a symphony performance. Where spontaneous applause and rowdy cheering may be acceptable and desired at a rock concert, someone yelling "I love you Bill Eddins!" might not have the same effect at the symphony. Instead you would probably be quietly escorted out of the hall by an usher vested in black.

But what about whispered conversations? What about some minor texting? What is the difference? I would think that it has to do with the perception of presence and awareness. No one cares if you are paying attention as long as you look like you are - and you know well enough to applaud at the appropriate times. If you are whispering to someone beside you, one would hope that you are doing so discreetly and during a moment when you are not interrupting others around you (during a break between selections). Sharing those same thoughts to those outside of the room - through a mobile device - is deemed rude, probably because you seem to be focusing your attention elsewhere.

But how aware can we be when two planes are competing for attention? What takes precedence? I would argue that in the case of the symphony performance it is the artists and the music that should take center stage (pun unavoidable here) and the conversation that is supplemental. The performers deserve our attention and we should give it. However, this does not discount the importance of the conversation after the fact - once the performance is complete. In the case of the ESO new media strategy, we need to ask what is it that the ESO wants to promote? They need funds to keep operating, be that through donations, subscriptions or ticket sales. They need patrons to fill the seats. But why? At the risk of being overly simplistic I provide an easy reason, the symphony is fantastic. the artistry, the history, the entire experience. I think those are the things that you want to share with others. Those are the type of things that need to shared in conversation. That story, those details, the experience. The question to ask about live blogging and tweeting is , does the information shared through those tools provide the kind of richness of detail that will attract new patrons? Does the information provide an accurate representation of the experience (be it positive or not)?

This leads me to an exploration of buzz and timeliness. Are concurrent conversations important or is building a long term following a more effective strategy? Once again I find myself debating instant gratification versus a slower approach to building context for conversations online. I use the word 'slow' only because to me it suggests a certain calmness, providing a chance for reflection. It is not a rejection of exciting new tools. It's more so a conscientious approach to think about how, what and why we are talking about things and a realization that our tidbits of conversation all become part of a larger story that people can follow and participate with both online and in person.

I have more to say of course, but this is the type of conversation that needs to exist on many planes.