Columns » John Brummett

Twittering to Starkville



I'm trying hard to stay peripherally attached to modern communications technology. By that I mean close enough to maintain a general sense of how nuts the world has become.

It's hard to keep up, especially when you're such an antique that you're about to turn 55 and you have this old-fashioned idea that telecommunications is something you choose to do occasionally, not something you do continuously while walking on a sidewalk or driving a car or, oh, I don't know, being intimate.

One time I wrote about blogs and their influence on politics. I did this in 2006. Somebody said, on a blog, I think, that I was “so 2003.” This was infinity, apparently. My lingo, my sensibilities — all were from 36 months prior, an eon past, a darkened era. I've never been so humiliated, and I've been plenty humiliated.

So, anyway, the latest thing in the Little Rock television market — at least as of this composition at 12:29 p.m. Monday — was to put a multiple choice of news story ideas on your station's Web site and invite people to click on the one they want your designated reporter to produce the next day.

Then, you see, this reporter uses her cell phone to videotape herself as, in what's called “real time,” she goes about the dutiful exercise of producing this story you elected. You and your computer can follow her along on her merrily industrious way, either on the station's Web site or by twittering with her.

Now, before we get to this twittering business: I am so old that I remember when news professionals — trained news hounds who got called editors — beheld the contemporary landscape each day and decided with supposed professional and experience-hardened expertise what to assign reporters to cover. We didn't take a poll. We didn't ask anonymous yahoos with laptops and BlackBerrys to click on some icon and dictate our activities.

That sounds like our putting on our website,, soon to be shiny and new with bells and whistles and where I'll soon start back blogging, I guess, a choice of column subjects for me the next day. It could be something like this: Click for tomorrow's Brummett column. Do you want him to be (a) a conservative admirer of Sarah Palin, or (b) a socialist wealth-distributor, or (c) still in Gov. Mike Beebe's hip pocket or (d) none of the above?

Well, let's take away “d,” on account of its prohibitive favoriteness.

And then we could twitter each other.

That's this place on-line that you get to by, appropriately, typing Once registered, you can put on-line a description of what you're doing at that very moment. Headed to bathroom. Now in bathroom. Now washing hands. Can't find towels. Now going to lunch. Think will have salad. Ranch dressing. Two croutons. Correx. Three croutons. Oops, iceberg leaf just fell off plate. She wasn't bad-looking. Guy coughing. Don't know Heimlich. He's OK now.

I'm thinking all of this reveals a fear of being alone in an increasingly frightful world, of being disconnected from comfortable associations. And I don't think it's just the younger people, either.

I'll make a prediction. This weekend eight 50-something guys are going to pile into a van and head to Starkville, Miss., for the big battle for last place between Arkansas and Mississippi State, where one among us went to school and where, he contends, he's well-connected. At some point on this trip, I'll wager, seven of the eight — all but me — will be on their cell phones talking to their wives or kids or friends or with one or more of the three or four other guys who wanted to go, but couldn't.

I'll be reading a newspaper, which is a product of ink and newsprint that provides ancient history, perhaps from as long as 24 hours before.

I ought to blog the whole trip. Better yet, I think I'll twitter it, if I find my cell phone and remember to take it.


Tweet, tweet


John Brummett mentions the growing practice of Twittering, a network of brief text message sent by e-mail and cell phone. The Arkansas Times offers a couple of Twitter links — for periodic updates from our news blog and, Lindsey Millar's notes on music, entertainment and cultural happenings.

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