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Deeper into the Twungle
March 12, 2012 3:52 PM   Subscribe

"Would you let a skull pick you up at a bus stop? Definitely not. But on Twitter you find yourself doing all sorts of things you wouldn't otherwise do. And once you've entered the Enchanted E-Forest, lured in there by cute bunnies and playful kittens, you can find yourself wandering around in it for quite some time. You might even find yourself climbing the odd tree—the very odd tree—or taking refuge in the odd hollow log—the very odd hollow log—because cute bunnies and playful kittens are not the only things alive in the mirkwoods of the Web. Or the webs of the mirkwoods. Paths can get tangled there. Plots can get thickened. Games are afoot."
posted by vidur (57 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
I just

what is the point of this article
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:04 PM on March 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


I always liked Atwood's description of interacting with her Twitter following as being like talking to the little fairies who live at the bottom of your garden
posted by Bwithh at 4:06 PM on March 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


"I was, you might say, merely capering on the flower-bestrewn fringes of the Twitterwoods"

No, actually, I would never say that. I'm actually surprised ANYONE would say that.
posted by HuronBob at 4:09 PM on March 12, 2012 [21 favorites]


OMG kittens!
posted by scratch at 4:15 PM on March 12, 2012


this is the best take on twitter i've seen. it almost makes it cool!
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 4:16 PM on March 12, 2012


“Would you let a skull pick you up at a bus stop?”

Well, yes, I have to confess that I probably would, if only because skulls are likely to drive by the bus stop more often than actual buses where I live.
posted by koeselitz at 4:18 PM on March 12, 2012 [13 favorites]


I love that old skellington dance cartoon. I would have that as my wallpaper - my actual wallpaper in my physical home - if possible.
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:19 PM on March 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


If these are the cute bunnies of the Enchanted Forest of which you speak, I'll pass thanks! (shudder)
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:20 PM on March 12, 2012


The article wasn't so bad, but reading that made me say what the fuck is this shit.

And this part: Who knew that “sick” is the new “awesome,” and that “epic” is the rightful substitute for “amazing?”

First off, welcome to like 1998 for sick. And welcome to like 5 years ago for epic. Secondly, what the fuck is this shit.
posted by cashman at 4:20 PM on March 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


cashman: "And this part: Who knew that “sick” is the new “awesome,” and that “epic” is the rightful substitute for “amazing?”

First off, welcome to like 1998 for sick. And welcome to like 5 years ago for epic. Secondly, what the fuck is this shit.
"

I love and respect Margaret Atwood with every last part of my being, but yes, this.
posted by Gordafarin at 4:22 PM on March 12, 2012


I'm confused, too. It's written as though Twitter & Facebook were her first experiences interacting with others online. That can't really be true, can it?
posted by gimli at 4:27 PM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


So people like pseudonyms and fairies?
posted by limeonaire at 4:33 PM on March 12, 2012


I'm confused, too. It's written as though Twitter & Facebook were her first experiences interacting with others online. That can't really be true, can it?

Well, Twitter is kind of special, like a never ending global conversation. @RotatingSkull and @Rupert_Murdoch are both on there.

Why does this article have a Like button but not a Tweet button?
posted by memebake at 4:35 PM on March 12, 2012


So, does this make web programmers wizards?
posted by mccarty.tim at 4:35 PM on March 12, 2012


All programmers are sometimes wizards, mccarty.
posted by egypturnash at 4:36 PM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Not the ones I work with.
posted by localhuman at 4:39 PM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I only drink wine, and I know that's not alcohol talking. What drug influences her writing?
posted by perhapses at 4:43 PM on March 12, 2012


. . . What drug influences her writing?

She's from the Before Time. I don't know if she's a Baby Boomer or what, but she didn't grow up talking and thinking about this.

I've adored some of her fiction that I read, and I respect her as a thinker, but . . . she's not in touch with the way people speak on or about the internet. Is that good? It's up to you.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:46 PM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


wizard: n.

1. Transitively, a person who knows how a complex piece of software or hardware works (that is, who groks it); esp. someone who can find and fix bugs quickly in an emergency. Someone is a hacker if he or she has general hacking ability, but is a wizard with respect to something only if he or she has specific detailed knowledge of that thing. A good hacker could become a wizard for something given the time to study it.

2. The term ‘wizard’ is also used intransitively of someone who has extremely high-level hacking or problem-solving ability.

3. A person who is permitted to do things forbidden to ordinary people; one who has wheel privileges on a system.

4. A Unix expert, esp. a Unix systems programmer. This usage is well enough established that ‘Unix Wizard’ is a recognized job title at some corporations and to most headhunters.
posted by LogicalDash at 4:54 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


The concept of a transitive noun is apparently too obvious for a Jargon File entry. I guess the nouning of verbs is just too engrained in the dialect.
posted by LogicalDash at 4:55 PM on March 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


If it was Murray The Demonic Talking Skull, i would absolutely hitch a ride with him.
posted by Harpocrates at 4:57 PM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


If it was Morte from Planescape Torment, I wouldn't. That guy's a jerk.
posted by Joe Chip at 5:08 PM on March 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


If it was Johnson from Shadows of the Damned I would, but I'd surely soon regret it.
posted by Blue Meanie at 5:22 PM on March 12, 2012


I'm confused, too. It's written as though Twitter & Facebook were her first experiences interacting with others online.

She's 72; Facebook and Twitter could well be her first experiences interacting with people online, especially as herself. She even requested permission from the skull to use him in her blog. I'm literally half her age, and I still think some of the interactions that happen on twitter are pretty amazing.
posted by gladly at 5:28 PM on March 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


If it was Radiskull, I'd... have to think about it.
posted by phooky at 5:29 PM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, aged writers; must you write about the Internet?
posted by sonic meat machine at 5:37 PM on March 12, 2012


What gladly said. Read the full three sentences where she describes her lack of familiarity with even late twentieth century slang -- though I suspect she's playing up the old coot routine just a wee bit.

To this day I rely on my Twitter followers for arcane information, most recently some updates on the vernacular speech of the young. Who knew that “sick” is the new “awesome,” and that “epic” is the rightful substitute for “amazing?” Twitter knew.
posted by maudlin at 5:39 PM on March 12, 2012


If it was Meche Colomar, I'd want to know what happened to the rest of her.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:47 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Next from Atwood: How Twitter will never approach the heights of her own fiction. Because she's literary.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:00 PM on March 12, 2012


Next from Atwood: How the majority of commenters will never RTFA.
posted by clarknova at 6:04 PM on March 12, 2012 [8 favorites]


Within days of joining Facebook, I discovered with great alarm that I had been "poked." Or that was the message I received upon signing into my America Online (or "AOL") email account. Far from being antagonistic, it turned out this so-called "poke" was intended as a playful form of affection. I further discovered that absolutely anyone could "poke" me, and I could even respond in kind. Brave new world! The next few days and weeks were a whirlwind of poking every single one of my 263 followers, over and over again. And that was how I spent the summer of 2025. Epic sick!
posted by naju at 6:04 PM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Next from Atwood: How Twitter will never approach the heights of her own fiction. Because she's literary.


I don't think that's what she's saying at all, though. I imagine she thinks Twitter and paper novels do different things. That's not a controversial viewpoint. But this seems to be, Mirkwood metaphors and all, quite an enchanted response to Twitter.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:05 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought she was charming.

Yo, red thoughts, would you expect William Gibson to say something like that? Both he and Margaret Atwood are venerable science fiction authors who are on Twitter. Is it just something you expect from old people who write about new things? If so, that's insulting to old people. Or is there something special about Margaret Atwood that makes you expect this? Do tell.
posted by LogicalDash at 6:07 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Actually, you had me at twungle.
posted by Mike Mongo at 6:16 PM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Next from Atwood: How Twitter will never approach the heights of her own fiction. Because she's literary.

I was referring more to her idiotic comments on science fiction, but you're all correct; it's unrelated, a derail, and I apologise. Please pay it no more attention.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:28 PM on March 12, 2012


Would you let a skull pick you up at a bus stop?


HELL YEAH! METAL!

throws my little Satans in the air, thusly:

\m/ \m/
posted by louche mustachio at 6:50 PM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I do like that she gets the playfulness of the medium, though. Too many people use Twitter like a glorified RSS feed.
posted by limeonaire at 6:55 PM on March 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


I didn't expect to, but I liked it. It was very playful, and although I don't know when she wrote it, I can't help but read it as a rebuke of Jonathan Franzen's anti-Twitter blatherings.
posted by chinston at 7:07 PM on March 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Aw, phooky, Radiskull! That takes me back.

I don't mind older folks having naive takes on technology, if only because I'm headed there myself. Someday my grandkids will roll their eyes at my wide-eyed comments on virtual entertainment or brain implants or whatever. So long as a given person is not Hating it Because It's New, let 'em ponder.
posted by emjaybee at 7:22 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yikes. Based on the quality of that pullquote, I would never have guessed that was Margaret Atwood's writing. Ah well, we all get old.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:27 PM on March 12, 2012


WELCOME TO THE TWUNGLE

WE'VE GOT FUN AND GAMES

WE'VE GOT EVERYTHING YOU WANT

AS LONG AS IT FITS WITHIN 140 CHARACTERS
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:39 PM on March 12, 2012 [15 favorites]


Everyone should totally tweet her compliments on her hardcore SF-y lifestyle, though, pointing out with admiration that she isn't like those boring literary authors.
posted by No-sword at 9:48 PM on March 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Back on topic (because I actually love Atwood's work, comments on sf notwithstanding), it's very interesting that such a super-Canadian author, a wholehearted embracer of actual Canadian landscapes' roles in the country's literature, would reach for the cliched European fairytale/colonial explorer imagery she does here. It will be interesting to see if/how her metaphors change once the wonder of squeeing and emoticons wears off and it starts to feel like just another "place" to her.
posted by No-sword at 10:02 PM on March 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have to say, as much I love the clever jokes made here and Atwood simultaneously, when it comes down to it:

Unaware of "new slang" being not new and a weird take on Twitter vs. being 72, being on Twitter, and imagining the world that Rick Santorum dreams about 25 years ago in a way that it still seems like a frightening message worth listening to...

She wins every time.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:36 PM on March 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I thought this was great fun, and captured the anarchic spirit of Twitter well. And as chinston noted, it's a hell of a lot more interesting than Franzen looking down his nose and calling it "unspeakably irritating."
posted by muckster at 1:42 AM on March 13, 2012


Both he and Margaret Atwood are venerable science fiction authors who are on Twitter.

Don't call Atwood that where she can see it. The science fiction author part, I mean, I'm sure she'd be fine with "venerable."

Also, my grandmother is older than Atwood, and knows perfectly well what "LOL," "LMAO," and "sick" mean, and has for years. Being old doesn't necessitate being out of touch. What baffles me about it is that she apparently hasn't read any articles about the internet in the past twenty years, and is repeating the same tired acronyms-and-emoticons-are-weird-and-new crap. It's as bad as someone writing yet another article entitled, "Zap! Bang! Pow! Comics have grown up!" It's a lack of doing your homework, and as such is poor form.
posted by MadGastronomer at 2:35 AM on March 13, 2012


And apparently we can't have a Margaret Atwood thread without tiresome nerd butthurt about how she once tried to distance herself from science fiction. Fan entitlement has gotten really weird and entitled and resentful and creepy in recent years. Surely there are more interesting, original and worthwhile things to say about this brilliant author than endlessly reiterative a trivial grudge? It just makes her seem all the more right to want to escape from being overly closely identified with a particular genre.

I thought it was a lovely article. Sometimes it helps to take a longer perspective on things, and about this I think Atwood is exactly right - the internet is a magical place. It is full of fairy transformations, in which lives change overnight and justice is savagely dispensed (homeless people with golden voices being rediscovered! people who dump cats in bins being hounded for a moment's bizarre cruelty!). It has fools gold (upvotes? favourites?) and daydreams. It is the collective unconscious of humanity. Here cats speak.

So, I quite like the article. I like that a witty and gifted writer has chosen to produce an amusing exploration of this metaphor. But maybe that's just me.
posted by lucien_reeve at 3:04 AM on March 13, 2012 [8 favorites]


>> First off, welcome to like 1998 for sick. And welcome to like 5 years ago for epic. Secondly, what the fuck is this shit."
> I love and respect Margaret Atwood with every last part of my being, but yes, this.

God I'm so happy there are people on the internet, no matter how few, who don't sound like jargon-happy teenagers of any era.
posted by JHarris at 3:33 AM on March 13, 2012


(Except perhaps for Nadsat oh me droogies, although technically that hasn't happened yet.)
posted by JHarris at 3:36 AM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Asking about the point of an article by a well known fiction author seems a bit misplaced. She's not saying 'yay' or 'nay' or expounding some social theory about twitter and whatever, she's just... telling a story. Which is what she's known for.

I found it quite amusing anyway.
posted by Alex404 at 5:33 AM on March 13, 2012


Not the ones I work with.

Harry Potter has simply given you an unrealistic standard of wizardry. Think less "subtle and quick to anger" and more "soggy and hard to light".
posted by adamdschneider at 5:44 AM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


“Would you let a skull pick you up at a bus stop?”

If it was Bob the skull, I hope I have some romance novels with me on my ereader as way of thank you.
posted by rewil at 6:49 AM on March 13, 2012


Also, my grandmother is older than Atwood, and knows perfectly well what "LOL," "LMAO," and "sick" mean, and has for years.

My mum is 65 and has never heard of Al-Qaeda. 'I don't watch that kind of news'.

Age aside - and Atwood is 72, one would not expect her to be aware of how reem the kids talk these days - chastising her for not knowing this stuff is like making fun of a tourist for not speaking Chinese. Not everyone hangs around the same virtual street corners.
posted by mippy at 9:38 AM on March 13, 2012


And I say that as someone who was made fun of for not possibly knowing what 'bare' meant. Apparently, if you are someone living in London, there's no WAY you can't know what that means.


(Apparently it's 'lots of'. Which was the opposite of what I thought.)
posted by mippy at 9:42 AM on March 13, 2012


I thought it was charming as well, if maybe, yeah, a bit twee and possibly put on about the slang. I follow her on Twitter and I love her there. She's interesting, concise and I mostly agree with her politics, or, actually, given the fact that I know less than nothing about Canadian politics, I think I do. Anyway, I like that she took and continues to take a stand for libraries and for conservation and that she's unabashed about pushing that on Twitter. I like her books, too.
posted by mygothlaundry at 10:11 AM on March 13, 2012


Rotating skull is a spambot.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:41 AM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Rotating skull is a modern-age hero.
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:48 PM on March 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


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