[ by Charles Cameron — proposing a simple tweak for Twitter as a “difference that might make a difference” ]
Marc Andreessen gave us the first web browser, NCSA Mosaic. Without it, we’d be in an alternate universe. Much gratitude.
A few days back, Andreessen tweeted:
"Tech industry launches too many products without knowing what they are for!" "Tech industry doesn't do enough radical experimentation!"
— Marc Andreessen (@pmarca) December 9, 2014
Behold, two ideas, each one commonly voiced and easily taken or granted, which move in opposite directions.
Andreessen has a nose for these things. Sometimes he uses two tweets to point up this kind of paradox, sometimes just the one. But he’s intrigued, presumably, by the fact that two such contradictory attitudes can both persist in the same cloud of discussion without drawing much attention to their discord — and that when they are isolated and juxtaposed in this way, the discord jumps out at us, and with any luck we begin to question assumptions and actually think our way to a more nuanced understanding of the topic in question.
He’s using form to sharpen insight.
More than that, conceptual juxtaposition is the form he’s using, and that’s a form I’ve been exploring myself here on Zenpundit and elsewhere under the name DoubleQuotes for a while.
I use conceptual juxtaposition myself for a variety of purposes, not least because it’s the seed form of creative activity — the intersection between different ideas is the “seam” where Koestler finds the origins of humor, tragedy and discovery:
My own DoubleQuotes format is a means of capturing those intersections, whether they be verbal, visual, aural or even numerical, as shown in these two examples:
A while back, Adam Elkus took note of what Andreessen was up to with his juxtapositions, and thought they merited comment in their own right:
.@pmarca has been on a roll lately cataloging some amusing contradictions in public discourse about tech and other things.
— Adam Elkus (@Aelkus) November 13, 2014
Adam also noted the similarity between our respective thought processes, and followed up by tweeting, “In fact, one wonders if @pmarca and @hipbonegamer could team up for a double quote post.” I invited @pmarca to play a round or two of DoubleQuotes with me, there was a hiatus of a couple of weeks..
..and then Adam retweeted an inquiry along similar lines:
Is there a term for @pmarca juxtaposing two positions to prove a point? This is a tweet format that should see wider adoption.
— Startup L. Jackson (@StartupLJackson) December 3, 2014
— Adam Elkus (@Aelkus) December 3, 2014
to which I replied, “Let me think on it.”
I have been thinking..
Twitter already features a line connecting two tweets when one is a direct response to the other:
That’s a minimalist version of what I’d like to see — but I’d like to be able to lock two tweets, or retweets, together at the time of posting. I don’t know if this is app territory or something Twitter might want to create itself, but I ran across the two tweets that follow…
— Howard Rheingold (@hrheingold) December 8, 2014
within a few minutes of one another on my feed, but with fifteen or so intervening tweets…
— English Russia (@EnglishRussia1) December 8, 2014
and I wanted to RT them together as a pair — not one followed by the other, with who knows how many tweets from other people in between them as they appear in my tweeps’ feeds.
In those two n\tweets together, eccentric mechanical beauty meets eccentric natural beauty, I like both, but more than that, I like the contrast, and the underlying similarity — in this case, a similarity that is found in the eye of this beholder, and which I hope might catch the eye of like-minded others.
So: what I’d like to see is an affordance for posting two tweets or RTs as a connected whole.
This might be for the purpose of an Andreessen paradox, or a HipBone DoubleQuote, for raising a question or pointing up an irony, for illustrating parallelisms or oppositions in the editing of a film … the possibilities are endless.
That single minimalist line tying the two tweets together would be a starting point, but very simple graphics could be devised for signaling identity (the line features a small equals sign at its mid-point), inequality (“does not equal”), parallelism (double line), directionality or causality (an arrow), paradox (two arrows in opposite directions), question (a question mark), or recursion (an arrow chasing its tail), etc..
Lines with ah! oy! hu! and eureka! at their midpoints would also be neat:
Whether with or without these graphical niceties, the capacity to DoubleTweet would put us in play mode, insight mode, aha! mode.
We could use more exercise in that mode of being and thinking, no?