It’s quiet fascinating to see the development of mass media over time from cinema, radio, TV,  – see for example Tomi Ahonen’s 7th Mass Media depicting the mobile phone as the next phase of this phenomena. 

In trying to understand the visual through photograhpy I found myself reading John Berger’s collection of aricle’s “About Looking”.  His perceptive writing make some interesting comments which are readily transferable to the world of Twitter – especially his piece entitled “Uses of Photograhpy”.  On the shoulders of giants (!) he writes his piece on the back of reading Susan Sontag’s book “On Photography”.

Writing of the launch of the camera by Fox Talbot in 1839 it took 30 years before the tool was taken up by the military, the police and pornographers as well as the family etc etc.  How familiar to note that technologies know no social bounds.

He suggests that the period between the two world wars was when photography became the “most “natural” way of referring to appearances.  It was then it replaced the world as immediate testimony. …offering direct access to the real:…”  “It had become a public medium which could be used democratically.”

Quoting Sontag, “It is a view of the world which denies interconnectedness, continunity, but which confers on each moment the character of a mystery”.

Now with the communicative tool of microblogging on Twitter the immediacy of comment allows for the potential of connectedness – the mystery lies in the generation of connections seridepitous or otherwise.  The question can be asked how can the individual freely give, receive and engage with others and overcome the propensity in society for discontinuity?

Berger seeks an alternative photography which supercedes the mere reporting mode of images that underpin the capitalist system to a state whereby photographers are acting as a “recorder for those involved in the events photographed.”  How much is this involved with the world of Twitter?  Can the sheer act of purely reporting via a tweet awaken in the sender an awareness that they are actually recording on and thereby acting in a political way with and from within the body politic?

Berger’s alternative use of photograhpy highlights in his opinion the contrast between the standard format of photograhpy used to illustrate an argument in a unilinear way – here’s the argument in words here’s the picture to back up the argument.  Berger rightly points out that the reality is of a radial effect where each of use brings a “an enormous number of associations” to the event.  How true is that of commentary made on the twitter and is indeed a long time effect of web based connections – you just don’t know where connections might come from or go to.  This is a world of disruption which asks the most fundamental existential questions of the individual and society when the old certainities, “the facts” do not necessairly add up.  The classic conundrum of left brain right brain discussions.

In summing up John Berger highlights the deepening of experience when a photograph (twwet?) goes beyond its immediate context and is “assumed by social memory and social action.”

“A radial system has to be constructed around the photograph [tweet?] so that it may be seen in terms which are simultaneously personal, political, economic, dramatic, everyday and historic.”

So in essence to be able to manage the world of twitter and its fallout we have to have an ability to absorb manage and report  a welter of (personal) conceptions whether they be in art, science or religion.

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