Monday, August 15, 2011

Atwood's Not Worried

So I'm not going to worry either. She knows more than I do, a lot more.
Shall we make her an honorary contrarienne? Let's.
What do you make of the need to perform one's life on Twitter and Facebook?
Margaret Atwood: It is just an extension of the diary. There is a wonderful book called The Assassin's Cloak which takes diary entries from all centuries and arranges them according to day of the year. So you can turn to January 1, and there will be an entry from Lord Byron, and there will be one from somebody during World War II, and there will be one from Brian Eno. And then on January 2, there will be somebody else.
People used to perform their lives this way to themselves in their diaries and through letters to other people. So, for me, anything that happens in social media is an extension of stuff we were already doing in some other way. It's all human communication. The form that most closely resembles the "tweet" is the telegram of old—which also was limited, because you paid by the letter. So they were also short communications very rapidly sent.
All of these things, the postal service, et cetera, they're all improvements or modernizations of things that already existed earlier in some other form. Even African tribal drums, for instance, could send very complex messages over great distances. They were very rapid, they were very well-worked out, and communications could go like wildfire using that medium of communication.
All of this stuff is what we do now, but it's not different in nature from what we have always done, which is communicate with one another, send messages to one another, and perform our lives. We've been doing that for a long time.

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