How (really useful) discussions begin on Twitter

I’ve written here and elsewhere about Twitter. You’ve heard about it of course, even if you don’t use it. Twitter’s the application that enables online messaging – 140 character delimited ‘micro-blogs’ or comments to and from people you ‘follow’ or who follow you. It’s changed the way online habitués communicate, taking many of us away from the blogpost as the chief method of open online discussion. I’ve been torn mostly because of misplaced ‘guilt’ at neglecting the first-born – my Groundling ‘macro blog.’  Actually I’m convinced that you shouldn’t blog unless you have something worthwhile to say. In other words, less can be more, or quality beats quantity any day – and who needs more guilt anyway! But back to Twitter.

This morning I was discussing #theatre stuff with a Twitter contact in London. By the way the # or hashtag symbol is a way for users to ‘bookmark digitally’ or ‘tag’ subject-related posts on Twitter. We talked of this and that: his day, what’s been happening round the place while I’ve been sleeping and he’s been up and about, a coming global theatre event – when he happened to tweet about a new showing coming to London’s Royal Court – Caravan. I mentioned that right now the caravan is the preferred temporary accommodation for many of Victoria’s now homeless from the #bushfires last weekend. They want to live on their burned out properties and start again. He responded this way:

LondonTheatre: I wonder if anyone’s working on a documentary (stage or film) of #bushfire ?

about an hour ago

And this led to a quick back and forth on the stories that are emerging, television documentaries with survivors, verbatim theatre and dramatic writing. I was able to send him a link to an extraordinary piece in last week’s Australian newspaper about a couple who escaped the ‘flames of death’ -he in turn mentioned a piece he had written some time back about a woman escaping from a fire – and so it went. It was a conversation that stirred the pot, and hardly a time waster – the other fist that’s usually shaken at Twitter. Rather than its being a time waster however, I see the increasingly ubiquitous Twitter as a thought accelerator. It can lead to informative, reflective pieces either here in a blog post or face to face in live discussion. Dare I say it could also develop one’s productivity and creativity in unforseen ways.

PS Twickie is a new bit of software that I used to grab @LondonTheatre ‘s or anyone else’s reply to my original tweet. It’s from the clever Chris Pirillo. You can get the code from Twickie for any reply to particular tweets that you post – and embed them in a blog for reference. Neat eh?

I’m @Dramagirl on Twitter by the way. Would love to meet you if we’re not already in the stream.

SAG Elephant

Given the conflicting points of view on the YouTube commentary on this video, I’m interested to hear the reaction from ‘middle-class’ actors in the US on the implications of the AFTRA ‘deal’ struck with the film industry. As an Australian-based actor I can’t but feel that these issues will arrive onshore pretty darn quickly down here.

Given that most see the arrival of web-based entertainment in a big way over the next few years, what are the unions – SAG doing to assist their membership? What does this AFTRA deal really mean?

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Snow, Robert Frost, and birch trees

Birch Forest at Walden, originally uploaded by Dramagirl.

by Robert Frost

When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy’s been swinging them.
But swinging doesn’t bend them down to stay
As ice-storms do. Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun’s warmth makes them shed crystal shells
Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust–
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You’d think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.
They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,
And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed
So low for long, they never right themselves:
You may see their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.
But I was going to say when Truth broke in
With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm
I should prefer to have some boy bend them
As he went out and in to fetch the cows–
Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,
Whose only play was what he found himself,
Summer or winter, and could play alone.
One by one he subdued his father’s trees
By riding them down over and over again
Until he took the stiffness out of them,
And not one but hung limp, not one was left
For him to conquer. He learned all there was
To learn about not launching out too soon
And so not carrying the tree away
Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise
To the top branches, climbing carefully
With the same pains you use to fill a cup
Up to the brim, and even above the brim.
Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,
Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.
So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.
It’s when I’m weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig’s having lashed across it open.
I’d like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth’s the right place for love:
I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.
I’d like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.