What got you into Twitter?
I heard about Twitter early in 2008 and joined personally, but was an inactive user. In Fall 2008, a close friend of mine Bruce Johnson (@kokoe2) had just come back from another TED conference and was extolling the virtues of Twitter. He introduced me to some of the first people I followed (@timoreilly, @diana_vreeland), and it mushroomed from there. Bruce’s evangelism for the latest ideas in art and technology has always resonated with me. A telephone brainstorm one evening begat @dangerousmeme.
What is your goal with Twitter?
My goal with Twitter is to establish myself as a provocative art voice with as many followers as possible. The idea behind a meme is that it constantly replicates and expands with a life of its own. I see my presence on Twitter as a counterpoint and commentary on the barrage of information, spin, disinformation and propaganda which surrounds us in our culture. I hope to encourage more people to question ideas we so casually accept as fact.
What does your Twitter name Dangerous Meme mean to you?
Dangerous meme is a central point for distributing the threatening ideas floating around us. I see myself as the subversive retweeter of potentially harmful information bits. I try to keep my personal philosophy private, hence my anonymity for the profile. I want people to confront their fears, deconstruct their environment and to think and decide for themselves. My favorite recommendation comes from a follower Peter Vizel @petervizel, “He is our future and our hope… He is the Beast.”
On your bio you link to a Ted Talk about Memes, I watched it and found it confusing. What did you get from that Ted Talk?
“A meme can flourish despite having a negative impact on genetic fitness.” –Dan Dennett
The talk raises questions. What beliefs do we carry which may not be in our own best interest? How can an idea be dangerous? Whose interests are served? Are there ulterior motives? How do we make sense of the conflicting information we face? How will we survive given the forces in our midst which could ultimately destroy us? Answers to these questions shed light on the fundamental absurdity which lies at at the core of our existence.
Your Twitter background is truly hypnotic. Where did you get the background?
I have been a fan of illusions, visual, auditory and philosophical from a young age. I googled psychedelic background looking for image ideas and found it at http://www.garysaid.com/due-to-popular-demand/
The background should mesmerize, like the effect of an idea which you may hold and yet still threaten you.
What would you like your followers to get from your tweets?
We are naturally drawn to hyperbole. I take furtive pleasure assuming the role of Cassandra or a ‘Henny Penny‘. I ask people to question the source of their beliefs. We live in a soundbite-sized world where complex ideas are distilled as reductio ad absurdum. While my overarching themes tend to be dramatic, I also see humor in the outrageous, ominous ideas in our midst. I hope my followers they can muster a smile in the face of this dire information, have a better understanding of when it matters, and formulate their own informed opinions about the true nature of things.
I find irony in the number of people who follow me because they quickly read my tweets and accept them as truth, at face value. This is the tiny conceit in my concept. The net is wide, much greater than it would naturally be if I simply tweeted my own personal beliefs. However, by catching these ideological sleepers and gradually exposing them to a breadth of ideas, I hope I am ultimately not only preaching to the converted.
What do you think about the Twitterverse?
The Twitterverse is a tech-enabled reflection of our culture. It’s filled with poets, philosophers, charlatans, spammers and everymen. There’s beauty in the way it seamlessly integrates with our widening wireless footprint. The palliative effect of tweeting can also be addictive. Its speed of syndicated publishing, its penetration among the perceived cognoscenti and instant messaging to them gives its users a sense that their voice truly matters. I believe @dangerousmeme proves that novel ideas can matter.
What types of relationships have you made with tweeters?
I am not ready to reveal my true identity to the Twitterverse and have entrusted it to a very select few, so I tend to limit my relationships as dangerousmeme outside of the purely electronic. However, I have met some very interesting people with the creation of @dangerousmeme. I have met doctoral students who are interested in cooperative ventures on the topic of memetics (@sigholmes) and other interesting people on the fringe, like a martial artist working on an occult publication. I have also cultivated a coterie of regular retweeters for whom I am very grateful. I am glad to thank these ‘deputy replicators’ personally with individualized direct messages. Already I have a handful of followers who send me content, and I look forward to developing another group of assistant editors who continue to feed me with great dangerous memes. My goal is to be egalitarian and non-biased in my syndication of their ideas. I also gladly credit them. However, I will always reserve executive editorial power to provide content consistent with my original vision.
Do you have a final goal? Is there a day when you will wake up and not have an urge to tweet?
My original goal was 3000 followers, and then 10000 followers. As I met and then exceeded each goal, I have set my sights higher. The Twitter platform has given me the chance to realize a dream of being a provocative artist in a medium I understand very well. Before I was @dangerousmeme, I have always taken pleasure in being an agent provocateur. The personality is a reflection of me with a much more singular focus, combined with discipline and determination. I doubt I will ever lose the urge to tweet. In fact, many of my real world friends chide me for saying shocking things in public for what they perceive as pure ire-raising effect. Dangerous meme satisfies this urge. As it grows, it may become more than I could personally handle with my other commitments. With this, I hope to cultivate more friends on whom I can rely to keep the meme alive. Ultimately, as a platform, I would like to oversee the creation of a publishing empire with a voice questioning the status quo.
Who are some of some of your most favorite folks that you follow?
Dangerousmeme doesn’t really follow anyone through the normal Twitter feed. This is because I follow everyone back who follows me and stop following anyone who stops following me automatically via the API. This strategy was employed to gain the most followers as quickly as possible. I do engage the people who ask me questions, retweet me, and communicate with me directly. I have attracted a coterie of followers on the fringe, especially discordians and chaos theorists. A very few of the people whom I have met with @dangerousmeme have carried over into my personal Twitter family, because with a smaller base of friends, it is easier to separate their tweets from the mercurial stream of information which floats across my feed as @dangerousmeme. I regularly read a handful of sites to feed my meme content, and that list keeps growing.
Do you tweet on a smart phone?
For @dangerousmeme, very rarely. I use http://www.tweetlater.com to schedule my tweets around a traffic schedule likely to have the most reach. However, I use my smartphone to monitor responses to @dangerousmeme throughout the day and confirm the publication of my scheduled tweets. If I didn’t admit that I also used my smartphone to check my follower count, I would be lying.
What was one of the most interesting dialogues you’ve had via Twitter?
I have personally engaged in meaningful conversations with an influential Twitter conservative, @jansimpson, on the topic of democratic philosophy. She has since retweeted me. What I have learned was that, hokey-sounding or not, ostensible opposites can find common ground beyond the invective I am wont to tweet.
What direction do you see Twitter and social media evolving?
Twitter will need to leverage its penetration and monetize to stay afloat. The homegrown spam so common now as tweeps try to generate traffic for themselves or on behalf of others will become corporatized. As this happens, Twitter’s appeal will wane with its core and it will become another bland IM platform like Messenger or Skype. We will see more social media integration across the other types of sites. Facebook is a leader in this area by allowing importation of blogs; social media applications which mirror other sites like a Twitter app; and customized security by groups, networks, or individuals. Passively updating the sites will be more common and monitoring the sites will become easier as they proliferate across smaller platforms. Vlogging will increase. As we gradually allow more aspects of our lives to be documented online, governments will eventually buy and fund these massive data collection projects, because they are ultimately more valuable than any single database we have ever known.
What other social media do you use on a daily basis?
As @dangerousmeme, I only use Twitter. Personally, I also use Facebook, Myspace, YouTube, Xtube, Digg, http://www.blip.fm and LinkedIn almost daily.