cc photo “untitled” by flickr user KevinGessner
Earlier last week Matt Gold and I were having a conversation about Branch, an outfit that bills itself as a “new way to talk to each other” on the web. The team over at Branch is on to something. Communicating around the web has many perils; meandering discussions, trolls, lack of engagement… Branch looks to solve these problems by allowing you to tailor your audience. I think. From what I gather it’s like Pinterest for dialogue. You grab something off of Twitter or a blog and move it to a new environment to talk about it. About the time I learned about Branch, Twitter released Medium. Medium isn’t immediately obvious in its purpose. Twitter founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams describe it as a new way of communicating with the “burden” of becoming a blogger. From what I can make of it, it’s like Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest kind of mixed up. The Awl wrote a great piece about this change in direction for online communicating platforms and was wise to mention that they have as much to do with rethinking ad revenue as they do with “reinventing” communication. It strikes me that two moves are happening here: We seem to be looking for a way to tailor the web precisely to our interests and we want to do it eloquently. Corina Chocano handled the first part of this move nicely and I have little to say otherwise so I’ll simply point you towards her article in the Times. Eloquence deserves a little more thought.
Twitter’s 140 cap headlines took everybody’s favorite part of Facebook and made it a “thing.” It’s like that Seinfeld episode where they just sell the muffin tops. Tumblr took it a step further; easy to use, beautifully designed themes, it’s social media that frequently transcends language in favor of a visual dialogue as prophesied by John Berger in the BBC’s 1972 series “Ways of Seeing.” Even the idea of the Commons, or BuddyPress at large, relates here. People want the best of the web without the hoi polloi. Why use the group and blogging features of places like Facebook or Google and sift through the advertising wasteland (to say nothing of privacy issues) when you can create your own private, beautiful environment.
Why rent when you can buy?
Meanwhile on the Commons…
Frank Wang over at CUNYMath had a great post this week about math and music. He explores the human preference for music with predictability and symmetry, and it’s mathematical roots. There’s an interesting conversation about aesthetics and math waiting to happen there. In the comments Mari Watanabe-Rose found a great quote about rhythm in Murakami’s latest. It’d be interesting to get a collection going of great literature on great math.
Roberto Duncan had a ton of posts up this week over at Transformative Games about his work this summer with high school students. As Roberto’s summer with his students winds down, each of the projects have an epilogue looking back at how the games and learning went. Thank you for bringing this work to the Commons community!
Jessica Yood stopped in after some late summer reflection. As always, this blog is a treasure to read. Be sure to check it out and prepare to add the word crodje to your vocabulary. You grok?
Speaking of the end of summer, the Welcome New Students blog posted some important info for the GC’s incoming class. While many of us are past our new student days you should check out this gem from the post: Thinking Like a Creator.
Till next week.