Whenever someone mentions Twitter or Facebook to the excavators of Heliopoli, they think of two things, mired as they are in decades-old aesthetics. One is the shampoo commercial with the refrain “And they told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on, and so on, and so on ….”
The other is the movie Logan’s Run, in which Logan is browsing one evening through images of people in a kind of transporter, looking for companionship. He chooses one woman and she materializes in his room. She’s not interested in what he has in mind, it turns out, and so he asks, “Why did you put yourself in the circuit?”
“I was sad,” she says. “I put myself in the circuit. It was a mistake.”
The chief archivist, for his part, thinks of the 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. How long can one resist the siren song when everybody else is doing it? How can you not join the communal mind? It doesn’t hurt. Just lie down next to this pod. It will be over in a minute. The wail of your modem matches the haunting sound coming out of Donald Sutherland’s mouth.
He also seeks to come up with a diagram in his mind of, say, Twitter’s interconnectivity. It is not just lateral, of course, but also vertical … but more than that. Truly the world wide web, but a three-dimensional web … no, four, because it includes time. Is this your tesseract, Ms. L’Engle?
And just when he thought of proposing that Twitter and Facebook would kill blogging, WordPress releases a widget to place one’s Twitter feed in one’s sidebar, proving they’re on top of things. He approves. He just might do it his ownself. It’s cool. (Right on. Far out.) Twitter seems an excellent way to connect to a blog, superior to a feed reader. And yet.
So where does this leave Heliopoli? The city contains a number of crude videophones with tiny black-and-white screens, but not many of them, owing, it seems, to the expense. Most phones are the regular kind, the old-fashioned kind; and though the devices themselves were designed in the most streamlined way, adopting the wedge shape of a TR7 (hee hee), they are still just phones, just phones.
The connection is one-to-one over a copper wire. It takes place only in the present tense. How droll.
And yet. The overarching question seems not to be “What are you doing?” but rather “Why did you put yourself in the circuit?”, after all.