Social media is often criticised for promoting a sort of ‘speak-before-you-think’ mentality. Regardless of your opinion of this statement, it is always good practice to examine the work you have produced, including social media posts. This is especially true when those social media posts (in this case, tweets), are produced in an academic or professional environment. So let’s take a look at some of the highlights of my first few weeks of live tweeting the films I have been watching for BCM 325: Future Cultures.
Week One – Metropolis (1927)
Having not tweeted during class for a long time, starting with a film I had seen before (albeit a while ago), was a nice way to begin the semester. Amongst the tweets I prepared beforehand was my personal favourite for the week, and coincidently, the tweet that performed best when looking at the analytics of that week.
I personally love behind the scenes stills and video, as for me, learning how everything came together makes what I see on screen more special. This clearly is something that others relate to, @ElenaTheNerd commented on the tweet, remarking that she had assumed the sets were painted backdrops.
This tweet was the one that gave me the idea of having a filmmaking and behind the scenes focus to some of my tweets. Being more comfortable with filmmaking than future studies, I tried to draw on that knowledge for some of my unprepared tweets, including this one:
My best live observation though, and one that particularly tied into the Future Cultures class, was this:
Although the filmmakers of Metropolis could envision amazing futuristic technology such as a version of Skype, paper was so engrained in every part of society, that it is just assumed to be the method of storing information and communications. I think this concept and tweet tie nicely into Jim Dator’s second law of future studies, that ‘any useful idea about the futures should appear to be ridiculous’. To the Metropolis filmmakers, a future without paper was inconceivable.
Week Two – 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
We moved on to Stanley Kubrick and, by the numbers, one of my most successful weeks. Carrying on the behind the scenes idea and including my love of chess, this tweet generated the most impressions:
Whilst I would like to think that it was the fascinating chess fact that caught people’s eye, I suspect that it was Kubrick’s quote that tickled most people’s fancy, especially in the BCM 325 class.
My knowledge of cinema helped to generate my two favourite tweets for this week, the first being this prepared one:
This tweet was successful outside of the BCM 325 sphere, generating a few likes and retweets from some of my followers, and even accounts I had no prior contact with (including @9000Computer)!
The second tweet, was one that I composed whilst watching the film, when I noticed a similarity between the threats to humans:
Whilst I haven’t yet looked into this, I am sure somewhere out there is a detailed analysis on the presence of watchful, predatory eyes in futuristic fiction.
Week Three – Westworld (1973)
This week was one that was harder for me to find things to tweet about, especially in terms of cinema. Whilst I had a few behind the scenes tweets prepared, my thoughts on the film in relation to futures studies seemed annoyingly self-evident. The one tweet that is worth mentioning is this one:
Although it didn’t generate that much engagement, the on-the-spot observation itself I thought was particularly good and relevant to BCM 325 and futures studies.
Intermission – Contagion (2011), sorry Coronavirus (2020)
Live tweeting was on a two week hiatus as we transitioned to online university for the semester. Apparently it was around this time that Contagion rentals suddenly spiked.
Week Four – Blade Runner (1982)
This week was the week where I started to have some really good conversations around my tweets. My final tweet generated the most engagement, but it was @_mikaylastott‘s comment which built upon the ideas that I presented which made this one stand out to me.
The tweet previous to that one also generated some discussion:
What impressed me most about these tweets was the building of knowledge and interpretation. I looked at the film and came up with ideas and interpretations, but the commenters built on what I had said and refined it in ways that I hadn’t thought of.
I was also able to engage with other people’s tweets more this week and got into an interesting discussion with @syntheticjosh about the philosophy of being human.
Week Five – Theoretically Johnny Mnemonic (1995), Actually Minority Report (2002)
It is fair to say this week didn’t go according to plan, yet remarkably, it worked out okay for me. After spending a lot of time researching and preparing tweets for the planned screening of Johnny Mnemonic, we ended up watching Minority Report.
So as not to let all my work go to waste, I’ve included a few of the tweets I prepared in this blog post.
Surprisingly, given how little time I had to prepare, I think this week was good. I immediately picked up on the recurring theme from Metropolis of paper in the future.
Whilst in Metropolis I can see how paperless communication might seem, as Dator said ‘ridiculous’, I found it interesting that Steven Spielberg chose to ‘modernise’ paper, as opposed to predicting the future based on current technology and creating a more computer based means of reading the news.
I was incredibly excited when I saw the idea of The Panopticon – a concept I first encountered almost five years ago when taking a deep dive into the use of drones.
It is perhaps a more niche piece of knowledge that fits more into discussions of surveillance than futures studies (hence why it received little attention from the BCM 325 class), but is nevertheless a central concept on which the film is built.
As in Blade Runner, ideas about the philosophical ideas behind films generate a likes and retweets. Tweets like these are what I have been trying to prepare and will focus on more in the future. This one however was spontaneous:
I have found repeated success when I use my understanding of film to interpret how films represent the future. In most circumstances, it is easier for me to try to understand what the filmmakers are saying through the film’s construction and then link that to futures studies, then to place a futures studies theory or idea onto the film as many people do. Tweets like this are where I feel I am beginning to understand and link the film and the theory:
Whilst it has taken a while for me to settle back into tweeting for class, I feel like in the last few weeks, I have really begun to make progress with discussion and interaction on other people’s tweets. Again, I got into a debate around philosophy with @syntheticjosh, which I feel, addressed the current questions and arguments surrounding surveillance now and into the future:
For the first time in this class, I also came across a reading of the film which I couldn’t agree with. Whilst neither @JustJulessss or I managed to properly form or articulate our readings of this frame, it was nice to have my ideas challenged and be forced to stop for a moment and say ‘hang on, why do I see it that way? Maybe, there is a better reading’.
These first few weeks have provided me with some key of areas success and what to focus on. Behind the scenes tweets, and tweets that interpret how the films construction engages with futures studies theories, are ones that I find the most helpful to my personal learning and are also engaged with the most. In addition to preparing tweets like this beforehand, the more reading I can do before the screening, the easier it is to engage with others in discussions. This, however, is not always restricted to reading around futures, but also philosophy and technology. Hopefully, over the coming weeks I will be able to build on what has been a mostly successful start to this semester’s tweeting.