Tweet me, bubba

Twitter is a great thing for work-at-home freelancers. Once you’re up and running with a nice cadre of people to follow, it’s the perfect background banter you get from that mythical thing ‘the workgroup’ – yes you do, bunch of people in an office, working together, but working on separate projects. Things people say and do spark off other comments and witticisms, which then infect what you’re doing for the better as everyone shares and steals in equal amounts.

I’m editing today. Just standard cut-and-shut stuff, but I’ve got TweetDeck open in the background and thanks to Growl, I get a little ‘bong’ when a new tweet (ultra-short blog-style sentance of an ongoing conversation/stream of conciousness from somebody I think is interesting) comes along. It keeps me company and keeps me thinking. Less intrusive than email, tweets don’t require a response, they often don’t require any thinking at all, but it’s chatter. Think of a flock of birds in a forest of trees, thinking out loud. Now imagine internet style filtering so you hear only the voices that make sense to you.

Sure, okay, sometimes it’s pretty mundane. Listen to birds, learn a fair bit about berries. Ho hum. But once you and your flock (yes, you select ‘birds of a feather’) find each other, things get interesting.

You’ll find – in your self selected flock – there’s a meme in the chatter. Sometimes there’s a rattle in the hum. It gets you thinking.

Today, it’s been subtitles. So much world cinema, so little polyglotism, and there’s some really bad dubs out there. In our new world of multimedia on demand, we can cope with watching and reading and thinking – even if it makes the average male break out in a sweat with all that multitasking. But I digress.

Most of us have learned a little bit of another language. Maybe a bit of French or Spanish, maybe a bit of Female or Geek. Whatever. Once you have got that view, and then you view somebody’s opinion of how it was translated, suddenly it’s Time Out, Guys. Big joke missed, irony flattened, subtlety mashed – it was lost in translation.

So here’s our meme today: imagine a world of wiki-subtitles. Open source, match subtitles to any movie you can find from BluRay to YouTube, there’s the official source, but there’s more. Personal versions, group versions, official versions, unofficial versions, parodies, spites, it’s all just text with timecodes in and out.

Imagine the insight, the fun, the outrage, the debate, the learning, the passion, the cross-fertilisation that this can bring to our medium. It’s low cost, low footprint, anyone can do it, all inclusive.

An open source subtitle plugin that allows in-sync tweet-style text on ANY non-text media.

Of course, nobody’s going to get rich with this idea. We all get richer by participating, though.

Google ‘crowdsourcing’ and apply open source principles. Let’s not get hung up about the dimensions of a house brick or cinderblock. Take them and build great things. If you can improve the bricks and blocks, pass it on – doesn’t hurt your building.

By the way, you can ‘follow’ me on Twitter (http://twitter.com/matt_davis) – and find others who you’d like to share an office with. It’s interactive, so you need to share and tweet too. It’s an investment of time and effort, so don’t expect instant nirvana but after a month or two you should be reaping the rewards.

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