"The device came out of the box and my world was transformed." #wymhm

The first thing that happened was that New York fell away around me. It disappeared. Poof. The city I had tried to set to the page in three novels and counting, the hideously outmoded boulevardier aspect of noticing societal change in the gray asphalt prism of Manhattan’s eye, noticing how the clothes are draping the leg this season, how backsides are getting smaller above 59th Street and larger east of the Bowery, how the singsong of the city is turning slightly less Albanian on this corner and slightly more Fujianese on this one — all of it, finished. Now, an arrow threads its way up my colorful screen. The taco I hunger for is 1.3 miles away, 32 minutes of walking or 14 minutes if I manage to catch the F train. I follow the arrow taco-ward, staring at my iPhone the way I once glanced at humanity, with interest and anticipation. In my techno-fugue state I nearly knock down toddlers and the elderly, even as the strange fiction and even stranger reality of New York, from the world of Bartleby forward, tries to reassert itself in the form of an old man in a soiled guayabera proudly, openly defecating on Grand Street. But sorry, viejo, you’re not global enough to hold my attention.

"Facebook’s approach to the deaths of its users has evolved over time." #wymhm

Early on it would immediately erase the profile of anyone it learned had died.

Ms. Chin says Facebook now recognizes the importance of finding an appropriate way to preserve those pages as a place where the mourning process can be shared online.

Following the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007, members begged the company to allow them to commemorate the victims. Now member profiles can be “memorialized,” or converted into tribute pages that are stripped of some personal information and no longer appear in search results. Grieving friends can still post messages on those pages.

Of course, the company still needs to determine whether a user is, in fact, dead. But with a ratio of roughly 350,000 members to every Facebook employee, the company must find ways to let its members and its computers do much of that work.

"Such is the state of the media business these days: frantic and fatigued" #wymhm

in a media environment crowded with virtual content farms where no detail is too small to report as long as it was reported there first, Politico stands out for its frenetic pace or, in the euphemism preferred by its editors, “high metabolism.”

The top editors, who rise as early as 4:30 a.m., expect such volume and speed from their reporters because they believe Politico’s very existence depends, in large part, on how quickly it can tell readers something, anything they did not know.

“At a paper, your only real stress point is in the evening when you’re actually sitting there on deadline, trying to file,” said Jim VandeHei, Politico’s executive editor, in an interview from the publication’s offices just across the Potomac River from downtown Washington.

“Now at any point in the day starting at 5 in the morning, there can be that same level of intensity and pressure to get something out.”

"Digital communication is not just prevalent in teenagers' lives. It IS teenagers' lives." #wymhm

There's a very straightforward reason, says Amanda Lenhart, a Pew senior research specialist. "Simply, these technologies meet teens' developmental needs," she says. "Mobile phones and social networking sites make the things teens have always done – defining their own identity, establishing themselves as independent of their parents, looking cool, impressing members of the opposite sex – a whole lot easier."

Flirting, boasting, gossiping, teasing, hanging out, confessing: all that classic teen stuff has always happened, Lenhart says. It's just that it used to happen behind the bike sheds, or via tightly folded notes pressed urgently into sweating hands in the corridor between lessons. Social networking sites and mobile phones have simply facilitated the whole business

prevailing visibility

Three weeks ago, I attended the Computers & Writing 2010 conference at Purdue University. What I experienced there is fodder for multiple entries here, but I want to focus on Bill Wolff's Deliverator talk, "When Understanding Hypertext Isn't Enough: Thoughts on Writing in the Age of Web 2.0." Of the many things Bill discussed, foremost in my mind right now are the ideas of information movement and formerly invisible acts of composition.

Writing happens now in a more expansive way; I don’t think there can be any doubt expressed about this. I use a half-dozen social media tools in rather focused ways every day, and sharing is the paramount action. I pull images, text and video from email listservs, Google Reader and Twitter, posting to those same listservs, Google Buzz and Twitter. Seesmic Web helps with cross-posting and URL shortening. I also bookmark and tag via Delicious and Diigo, maintaining networks of influence there even though Twitter is dominant. Posterous is an additional repository but also functions as an opportunity to revisit previously shared items and share them again in an ongoing series of “What You Might Have Missed” entries.

Much of this happens because, as Wolff observed in his talk, websites are less silos and more interactive domains, facilitating and promoting the kind of sharing and referencing I’ve just described. All this is more than just part of a writing process, too; it is a kind of composition. This is so not just because Wolff made a compelling case for it in his Deliverator either.

I carried these online methods of organization offline to my bookshelves, though I should mention that Weinberger's Everything Is Miscellaneous was an additional inspiration. Now I keep articles and books on shelves not by author or title, but by connection. I’m able to move from Ong’s Orality and Literacy to Huizinga’s Homo Ludens on one shelf. The range of print I go through in making such movement, though, isn’t visible unless I look. I’d probably also need to explain to any witnesses just how it works. Via social bookmarking and tagging, however, explanation isn’t required, perhaps not even necessary. It’s even likely that my tagging justifications aren’t as meaningful or right-minded as the interpretations of those witness to such action. And that’s okay.

Bookmarking and tagging are previously invisible forms of composition made visible. We see the pathways and make the threads connecting a recent article in the New York Times to an O’Reilly Radar report from 2008. This visibility is, of course,  helpful for research processes, allowing us to build and see beneficial source relationships for ourselves as well as those in our learning networks.