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It was inevitable really: I am now on Twitter. As an ID “AboutThisLater” is just the most salient expressions of frustration at twitter’s systemic brevity, to which I have yet to adapt my mode of thinking. But it just about sums things up: the Twitter feed is part of my balooning interest in the way people talk and how they will remember it.

Credit goes to @castophrenia, and to Gonzo wine vlogger @garyvee for his unshakeable, old-school swagger in comparing modern Social Media professionals who are developing the instinct for personal branding with mid-eighties breakout rap and hip-hop acts like the Beasties.

In his honour, and in celebration of getting yesterday’s raise paid in I went round Daimyo and bought coats, and also finally got around to picking up some Japanese maltbase blend whiskey. About to livetweet the tasting, hopefully with a minimum of pretension.

My first ever tweet, for posterity’s sake:

Man knows so little of his fellows.In his eyes all men act upon what he believes would motivate him if he were mad enough to do what they do.      –Faulkner, from Light in August.

p

Also, in honour of the British Press’s current hysteria over social networking robbing young people of personal contact, I reproduce a pitch/short fiction I wrote a while ago. Essentially it’s part of my budding argument that on top of brute-force codebreaking, ARGs which want to remain relevant or just do something new should start crafting experiences based around roleplaying, communication.

It won’t appeal to everyone, just as code puzzle-solving won’t. But the guy who has to write an email and sound like an insider, or take a phone call and convince as a member of an anarchist terror cell in order to avert a tragedy… that’s a Unique Experience theat money will never buy. It really doesn’t matter how competent a role-player they are, just that it’s a nerve-wracking experience.

Thus:

Re: one last favour.

Player 1 watches the man in the ball cap. No-one else has approached
him in the five minutes the player has spent skirting the scene,
eyeing the crowds. There’s still more than twenty minutes on the
clock. The man in the ball cap glances frequently at his watch, but he
doesn’t fidget, stares flatly at the tour groups taking pictures
about him. A pro.
All the same, his stillness would mark him out amongst the tourists
even if the description in the email hadn’t been so specific. Dark
clothes and hat even in the heavy sunshine. Bulky backpack. Alone at
Boudiccea’s southwest corner, Thursday, from noon to half past. The
last contingency plan.
Player one will approach, purposefully from the front, hands free at
his sides, heart pounding. Unthreatening. Nothing sudden. The contact
will acknowledge him, will wordlessly offer him a cigarette from a
packet. The player will refuse, speaking only the keywords. Again, the
email is very specific.
“It’s a little early, don’t you think?”
Ball cap stares stonily at him for lengthening seconds. The player’s
palms sting, his lips darken, his face calm. Ball cap speaks.
“You’re certain?”
This part wasn’t in the email. The player jerks a nod, snatches at a
phrase remembered from the last week.
“Uh huh. You’re compromised at every level.”
Ball cap‘s eyes widen.
“It’s all off. You’d better go to ground. It’s all gone helter-skelter
out there.” Another alien phrase, like something overheard in another
language.
Ball cap nods decisively, glances almost wistfully around at the
square, the choiring of families, the percussions of children losing
themselves. Finally he sticks out a hand. The player takes it, toes
prickling with relief, when ball cap pulls him in for a sudden
embrace, wooden and jarring.
“I’ve been in deep for years,” he says fiercely into the player’s ear.

“It’s been so long since I’ve seen an initiate. Someone who can be trusted, who knows.” The player clamps his teeth, fighting down the urge to stiffen, suppressing repulsion. Ball cap releases, visibly embarrassed.

“Wish it was under better circumstances. It’s just… nice to know there are true believers out there after all.” He finishes in a rush. The player nods, lips tight. The contact adjusts his bag.

“You’d better split. I’ll give it a few to divide pursuit, then disappear. Again.”. He fixes the player.

“Make sure you’re not followed.”

The player nods stiffly a last time, turns and marches away, claves bounding with tension. He hears ball cap shout after him, “good luck!”. He ignores it. It’s time to get back to the office. There are still other bombs around the city, but nothing to be done. Not his responsibility. He has stopped all that could be stopped. The job is over.

Tomorrow the fact that there will be no news in London will be his
nod. His silent heroism, unrecorded and unavowed. Non-event will have
become event. The alternate reality will last for as long as the
player does, long after the game is over. And for the next few days,
without willing it, he will find himself glancing over his shoulder.

Player 2 has been watching the strange exchange. Another contact,
maybe? As the new face walks away, the man in the ball cap takes out
his phone and types a text. That’s the signal. Player 2 takes a deep
breath, adjusts his bag.
Going to an unknown number somewhere in the city, the text is just one
digit long.
‘1’
Send.

All credit to @castophrenia, my love.

p

—————————————————

Transcribing my interview with stony, mottled Union leader Chris for the Community Action feature I’m working on. He reminded me powerfully of my friend Pat. I miss him.

“… you know the JET program?”

“Yeah. they make quite a lot of money.”

“well, quite a lot…”

“Well, they make more money than me!”

“Oh, I know. I’ve known everyone who’s worked for this magazine. You’re worked hard and not given all that much, right?”

“Well, I’m reasonably happy. I’ve just had a raise… Maybe I’m just misinformed… but I’m happy.”

“Well that’s the important thing.”

JETs make about 30 man/month (1 man=10,000 Yen. =around £50 when I left Britain in Sept ’08. God knows now). Non-JET ALTS make around 22 man. With my raise I now make 9.2 man. It’s an arbeito, a part-time job. But then I am still up working, and it’s just gone midnight. But then, I don’t have to pay rent. And I am happy.

are we nearly retro yet?

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