Posts Tagged ‘social media’
I’m surprised it took this long to happen.
This weekend author Alice Hoffman took Roberta Silman’s book review to heart and attacked the Boston Globe reviewer through Social Media. On Sunday night (apparently at about 4 am) Hoffman began a 27 tweet string of vitriol-laced updates to her Twitter account (which was deleted as of this morning) blasting the reviewer and attacking her credibility, her position, and even the reviewer herself. One of the more shocking tactics that Hoffman used was publishing Silman’s email and phone number for “fans” to respond to the critic in a Tweet that read:
“If you want to tell Roberta Silman off her phone is (redacted). (Email redacted). Tell her what you think of snarky critics.”
Since the account was deleted, the string went into the void along with it, but the author didn’t move fast enough. You can still read her string of attacks, along with interesting takes on the events, at Gawker, Mediabistro, Entertainment Weekly, The National Post, and the NY Times Entertainment section. It’s clear that Hoffman realized that she, perhaps, went too far and whether it was through the advice of colleagues, lawyers, or agents, she deleted her Twitter account (@AliceHof). Smart move, perhaps, but the damage was done. In this age of instant gratification information systems, her attacks were read and re-posted and re-tweeted almost instantly, and everyone knows that once you open Pandora’s box you can’t delete the box and hope the bad things (i.e. personal attacks, off color humor/statements, unprofessional behavior, etc.) you let out disappear on their own. No can do, sister.
So what’s the big deal? Authors have been raging against critics for ages. Very few, however, took to open forums to attack a critic for doing her job. The review itself is far for scathing, and Silman mentions her admiration for Hoffman’s previous works. So the review wasn’t what Hoffman wanted to read. So what….
In another Tweet, Hoffman lashes out:
“Now any idiot can be a critic. Writers used to review writers. My second novel was reviewed by Ann Tyler. So who is Roberta Silman?”
Idiots “Average people”–otherwise known as YOUR READERS–have always levied criticism of their own. The difference now is that with the explosion and ease of blogging and social networking sites like LibraryThing and even Facebook, EVERYONE is a critic, and EVERYONE can post reviews for the world to read. But instead of embracing this opportunity, authors are finding this threatening. More opinions can be heard. More negative reviews can be posted. Forget that more positive reviews can be posted too, and that fan page after fan page can be posted. Forget that this gives authors, agents, and publishers a unique insight into the worlds and minds of the readers. None of that matters when compared to the fragile ego of the author.
Writers used to review writers? True. But there have always been literary critics who weren’t commercial fiction writers, or writers at all. Do you seriously think that all film critics or all food critics made movies or were 5 star chefs? Get a grip and come down from your pretentious high horse. You’re not writing academic criticism for a small, very specific group of readers. You’re writing for the masses. To make money. Your objective is to write what people will buy (and want to buy) for a living. Everyone, artists included, receive criticism on a daily basis and the reality is that it’s not always sunshine and puppies. You can’t please everyone, and when you lash out it makes you look like a child. It makes other reviewers not want to read your books for reviews–good or bad–and what happens then? You fall into obscurity or you are driven to go ask those “idiots” online to give you a review, any review, for the love of all that is holy I need my work to be talked about to sell copies!!! And guess what… When you come knocking to the doors of people who watched you attack a critic publicly, and personally… no one is going to answer.
And for the record, Roberta Silman is a writer, in every sense. She’s a critic and published author.
Yesterday there was a buzz about the speed with which the new administration was modernizing procedures and technology. The have a Director of New Media, for goodness sake! Part of this excitement drove me to start digging for agencies and individuals who were embracing this notion of Communication and Participation by the new Obama administration. At first, yesterday, I came across dozens of agencies actively participating in social media and microblogging.
Anyone who was connected to social media over the past year was aware of the twitter accounts for candidates:
@BarackObama and @JoeBiden are both still active, but have fallen silent for most of the time between winning the election and the inauguration. @joe Biden hasn’t updated his twitter page since August, and @BarackObama has posted twice since winning the election. @JohnMcCain hasn’t updated since Oct 24, and Sara Palin… well, one can’t quite be sure if she ever had a real presence on Twitter.
Granted, these men and women have calendars that are impossibly full, and to expect them to actively participate in social networking might seem… well… naive. But they did before. Before the election, there were constant and consistent updates, information, and comments shared through Twitter. Now these tools that made meaningful connections with citizens and voters have been seemingly abandoned.
I had hope when I was pointed in the direction yesterday of @TheWhiteHouse. Like many, I figured that the Obama administration would just transition that connection to a larger, broader scale and encompass the White House in general. This account’s earliest tweet available is from September 6, 2007. Maybe they were handing over the account like they do the Lincoln bedroom. I had hopes for this. That is, until today. Today, the account changed the Bio to read: “Links to news about the white house; unaffiliated with the white house.”
My original intent for this post was to be a handful of examples of governmental agencies that have gotten involved in social media. I was planning on splitting the posts up. Now, I have to reevaluate whether that’s even worth it.
Yesterday, @USSupremeCourt, @HouseFloor, and @SenateFloor all changed their avatars from the official seals to the generic avatar given to new users. Their bios all changed over night to Some version of “Not affiliated with the actual *INSERT GOV AGENCY*” Needless to say, this is disappointing. For a single day I had the hopes that things were starting to gel, that connectivity and that the information availability problem was solving itself. It turns out that’s not true. Those official looking accounts are no better than @IRS_gov. Granted, the aforementioned accounts at least took the pains to provide accurate details and links, but ultimately, they aren’t sanctioned by the US Government.
I suppose I should have seen this coming after reading the reaction of the Staff to the status of technology at the White House. I can only hope that these regressions only mean that these government agencies will be figuring out how to vet information and distribute it via social media on their terms rather than not at all.
How do you say goodbye to someone you don’t “technically” know?
Today is a sad day in the Pittsburgh blogging and social media community. The anonymous author of The Burgh Blog, PittGirl, a.k.a. Jane Pitt, has closed up shop. She had mentioned on numerous occasions that she wished she could join the rest of us in the various events that popped up throughout the course of the year, but that her privacy and keeping her identity a secret was, unfortunately, more important.
Some people don’t understand this aspect of Internet culture, or blogging. They figure, “Hey, if you can’t attach your name to it, then you’re a fraud/chicken/blahblahblah.” But that’s not always the case. Ask Heather Armstrong about how easy it was when co-workers and employers found out that she was the author of Dooce.com. She lost her job and she had been using pseudonyms for people in her life and at work. Ask “Miss Snark” how easy it was to continue working as a Literary Agent while maintaining her brutally honest advice and commentary about the publishing filed over at Miss Snark, the Literary Agent (dark as of 5/27/08).
While the culture of Internet anonymity perplexes and (at times) infuriates some, it does have a purpose. There are thousands (go ahead and look it up) of works that have been published anonymously, from Beowulf, the Epic of Gilgamesh, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, to Primary Colors. There are even more works that have been published under pseudonyms, or pen names, to protect the author. The topical matter of these works generally falls in a handful of categories: Politics, Sex, Religion, or Controversial topics that butt heads with the predominant cultural norms of the time/place. Pen names–nom de plumes–allow authors to write honestly, critically, and without fear of retaliation for holding and speaking from a different point of view than the majority. Going against the grain and being the voice of criticism in a political environment is particularly difficult. When you work in politics, to question or criticize the current administration (local, or national) is asking to be tarred and feathered.
Majorities and ruling parties like sycophants. Just ask Richard II… and we all know how well that turned out…
Bloggers like PittGirl are important to a culture and city because they give a voice to those who refuse to be blinded by power. Her criticisms weren’t only witty, they were spot on and topical. They made people think, and any writer that accomplishes that task has already won the game. Pittsburgh has a vibrant social media community with active blogger, podcasters, content producers, and social networkers, but the loss of PittGirl’s voice will shake things up. She bridged the gap between the Internet culture and the people of the community, and people will miss that. They’ll miss her. It’s like saying goodbye to a college friend you don’t know if you’ll ever see again.
But every individual has a right to their privacy and their lives. I only hope fans and detractors both give her the privacy she has a right to. I’ll certainly miss reading her daily posts and her wit, and I hope she is able to find another voice somewhere to connect to the people who love to listen to her. More importantly, I hope that she inspired individuals to create their own homes online to speak from, and maybe the void that her leaving will create will be temporary. Maybe people will reach out and fill it with their own voices because she led the way for them to do so. I hope.
PittGirl is a gifted humorist and writer, and I only hope she finds a new home to write from.
PG: KIT, yo. TTYL.