Social Mediation

By Sean Carroll | July 8, 2009 11:39 am

People writing books, I have to imagine, are much like people with babies. This newborn thing has been the center of their life, and will continue to be, for some time; and one naturally presumes that the rest of the world shares one’s fascination with it. This presumption, alas, may not always be true.

You may have heard that I have a book coming out — pushed back to January, unfortunately. I haven’t shown any hesitation in blogging about substantive questions related to the topic of the book, nor do I see any reason to. And once it comes out I do want to do some sort of book club so that people can ask questions and have a conversation about what’s in the various chapters. So there will be no shortage of book-related stuff here on the blog.

But there is a whole ‘nother level of bookish miscellany — admiring the illustrations, having blurbs come in for the back cover, setting up public talks, and all that. Now we’re pretty much into baby-picture territory; it might not be completely safe to assume that everyone else is as fascinated by all this as I am. But you don’t want to deprive those who are, right? So I’m sending all that stuff here:

That will shield you from the worst of my enthusiasms. A bit, anyway.

Not that I’m at all sure that this is the right thing to do. Back in my day, we didn’t have all these fancy social networks to play around in; you had your blog, and that was it. Now there’s been a bit of proliferation, and there’s no question that it’s changing the landscape. It can obviously be annoying to try to follow too many things at once, but on the other hand it’s nice to have more appropriate tools for distinct tasks. In the old days, I wouldn’t think much of writing a blog post with an amusing link and little else. Now I will just put that on my Twitter feed. So there are fewer blog posts overall, but the average amount of substance per post is higher. Is this an improvement? Not really sure.

A lot of bloggers have Twitter feeds where they link to every one of their blog posts, which seems backwards to me. (So I usually don’t subscribe to those folks — nothing personal.) I once asked (on Twitter) whether people thought that was a useful service, and I received strong opinions on either side — but then I noticed that everyone who was in favor of linking to every blog post on Twitter was a blogger who linked to every one of their blog posts on Twitter. So I resist. But then again, I synchronize my Twitter feed to my Facebook status updates, which is considered unforgivably gauche in some circles. So who am I to complain?


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About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] .


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