Juliet’s Tweet Sorrow

The Royal Shakespeare Company just produced a new production of Romeo and Juliet… over twitter. It consisted of 4000 tweets over a period of several weeks. I have enjoyed going through the archives and piecing together this version, but wish I’d managed to see it all playing out in real time. I think it is a clever adaptation – fresh, cross-media (tweets, youtube videos, images) – yet it still retains a kind of beauty and poetic nature, with smatterings of the original thrown in, such as:

julietcap16 My wrists be the first to receive the deep red, yet pleasurably painless tattooed pattern from which the water of my veins be purged.

Juliet also had several videos on a youtube channel. In this adaptation Juliet was a wannabe song writer. Here is her song dedicated to romeo and his tweets:

Songwriting is another form of the poetic. I also really enjoyed viewing the images and captions, which were haunting and poignant in the way they captured a young girl’s thoughts and dreams:

One of my former honours students (in 2006 I think it was), did a study of text messaging and literacy and found that many English teachers were using text messages creatively in their classrooms, to explore literature, poetry, writing, and communication.

I really liked an article by David Crystal about the poetics of text messages (and I am making this connection because twitter is also about brevity and containment of a message within 140 characters):

The length constraint in text-poetry fosters economy of expression in much the same way as other tightly constrained forms of poetry do, such as the haiku or the Welsh englyn. To say a poem must be written within 160 characters at first seems just as pointless as to say that a poem must be written in three lines of five, seven, and five syllables. But put such a discipline into the hands of a master, and the result can be poetic magic. Of course, SMS poetry has some way to go before it can match the haiku tradition; but then, haikus have had a head-start of several hundred years.

Crystal goes on further to claim the following:

An extraordinary number of doom-laden prophecies have been made about the supposed linguistic evils unleashed by texting. Sadly, its creative potential has been virtually ignored. But five years of research has at last begun to dispel the myths. The most important finding is that texting does not erode children’s ability to read and write. On the contrary, literacy improves. The latest studies (from a team at Coventry University) have found strong positive links between the use of text language and the skills underlying success in standard English in pre-teenage children. The more abbreviations in their messages, the higher they scored on tests of reading and vocabulary. The children who were better at spelling and writing used the most textisms. And the younger they received their first phone, the higher their scores.

So, I’m all for texting and tweeting in creative ways – and I’d like to see more use of it in classroom contexts.

For further information see:

  • Such Tweet Sorrow (Mudlark and the Royal Shakespeare Company website)
  • Romeo and Juliet get twitter makeover (The Telegraph)
  • Romeo Tweets Juliet (NspireD2)
  • Romeo and Juliet get Twitter Treatment (The Guardian)

British Primary Schools to Teach Twitter

Twitter has really entered mainstream consciousness! Everybody is “a-twitter”! And so too are new curriculum designers in the UK. A report from the Guardian yessterday announced that the new curriculum proposes the following:

Children to leave primary school familiar with blogging, podcasts, Wikipedia and Twitter as sources of information and forms of communication. They must gain “fluency” in handwriting and keyboard skills, and learn how to use a spellchecker alongside how to spell.

Congratulations to these future forward thinking curriculum designers!  Here in the NSW social media is BANNED from schools. I am disgusted in the huge gap this is causing for our students, who are not being prepared for their social futures sufficiently because of these limitations.

What are you doing? A seemingly innocuous question, but… think again.


I’ve been studying with interest my 100+ friend’s status reports on facebook as they regularly change, and to a lesser extent my twitter followers responses to the question “What are you doing?“.

As most readers of this blog will know, I am fascinated with the way language constructs identity and the sorts of discourses that can be revealed about identity through a grammatical analysis of text.

This is easy to analyse with some accuracy in facebook status messages as they get fed into the news feed and changes pop in in a seperate window if you allow notifications and enable the pop-up through firefox extensions.

Chris Finke did a twitter analysis of the verbs people used to reveal what they were doing and discovered the following top 20 verbs.

1. going 8271
2. watching 5248
3. listening 4870
4. getting 4694
5. playing 4085
6. working 3634
7. trying 3599
8. reading 3269
9. waiting 2558
10. looking 2487
11. doing 2312
12. having 2215
13. being 2098
14. thinking 2072
15. wondering 1866
16. eating 1862
17. heading 1710
18. feeling 1705
19. making 1541
20. meeting 1452

What I am really interested in is any grammatical patterns I can find within groups that are common in defining their identity. Are the educators all using thinking verb? Are males all using action verbs? Are females using sensing and existential verbs? Do older users do this consciously as they have an identity management and reputation management system already carefully constructed? Do younger users think at all about how even their verb choices in their status constructs their identities in certain ways?

And this is not to mention the implicit communicative function of status messages, which would be more evident in twitter by a direct use of the @ symbol – but I see people in FB sending semi-coded, semi-public messages to each other through their status messages to create a blended kind of private/public dialogue.

And whilst twitter is poetic micro-fiction narrating the every day lives of your followers, the status message is more like an in joke, where threads of several messages relate to threads of others, and its like a cross-media narrative and puzzle to work out what all the relationships are.

Check back on your status messages and twitters and let me know – how are you constructing your individual or group identity, what processes are you using, do you have particular subsets of friends in mind you either explicitly or implicitly hope they engage with you.

One of the significant things for me is that people are learning how to do these practices within the community of practice. There is a seeming lack of “rules” to it, which provides scope and freedom for people to be innovative and playful with it. Precisely because it is an amusement, people don’t even necessarily use the words themed as the starter for the sentence “User is….”.

So… what are you doing?

My Digital Fiction Presentation for Futures in Literacy Conference

The Cross-Media Self


Yesterday when I added Andy Piper as a friend on Facebook, I flippantly said “now we’re friends everywhere” – since I knew him on Second Life, on Facebook, on twitter, on flickr, on his blog, and through his comments on my blog.

He paused for a while, then replied with a wide ASCII grin:

“friends *everywhere*? 8-) see http://onxiam.com/people/andypiper“ 

I clicked the link, and my jaw literally dropped in astonishment at the number of tracks Andy makes across the web.  How the HECK can any one person do so much?!?!

Right now I feel pretty overwhelmed by the number of social media spaces I seem to exist in: 3 blogs, 3 or 4 roleplaying forums, a fan forum, a zine, flickr, linkedin, twitter, facebook, Second Life (plus an alt), 2 youtube accounts, gmail, work mail, skype, google chat. People keep inviting me to new things but I just don’t have the time!  And each one of these has channels or groups or threads – I am in 63 flickr groups, 19 facebook groups, subscribe to numerous blog feeds, several podcasts and a number of youtube channels.  I’m part of 2 high traffic email lists (Association of Internet Researchers and Second Life Education), and about 10 low to medium traffic ones.

My solution at handling them all is to concentrate on two or three at a time.  The amount of reading and writing and uploading and downloading and viewing and clicking I do every day is becoming ridiculous.  I am a terrible commenter on friend’s blogs, I only blog once every day or two, I barely post to email groups, and I only keep up with urgent emails.  If I tried to fully engage in everything I wouldn’t ever get any work done!
Andy wrote a post about his experiences called The Quicksand of Web 2.0, in which he debates some of the pros and cons of different applications and talks about addiction and his “off switch”.

Its all left me wondering about the kind of identity play we engage in across all of these different spaces we inhabit, and the type of narrative constructions other people are making about us as they make connections between our multiple cross-media selves.

And is it possible for people who read your work across these spaces to suddenly get turned off by a bad case of TMI (too much information)?  Or as one of my literary colleagues is wont to say, “that person just has too much narrative going on.”

But not you Andy :)


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 388 other followers

Powered by WordPress.com