Depends on What “Is” Is

After the initial glow of playing with social networking again wore off, I (predictably) reverted to ignoring Facebook. Except that every time someone friends me or begs me to add the app for their pet cause, I get an email ping reminding me that Facebook exists and that I, apparently, have unmet social obligations. Which reminds me that I really need to update my profile so I don’t look like an abandoner. 99% of my Facebook activity over the past month has been relegated to obligatory updating of my “Is” status.

Scot is contemplating Joomla.
Scot is digging the new William Parker disc.
Scot is no longer contemplating Joomla.

and so on. Not much, but it keeps my crackers from getting too stale. In so doing, I’ve been flummoxed that the “is” part is required. If I want my profile to say “Scot digs the new William Parker,” it comes out as “Scot is digs the new William Parker.” Lame. But Machinist says Facebook has dropped the “is” requirement, and that the verb is now free-form. Thank god for small miracles. But did the “is” play an important linguistic/artistic role?

What Flaubert meant was that it is precisely an artform’s constraints — and not the lack of constraints — that juice people’s creativity; the Facebook “is,” no differently from Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter, forces people to look for interesting ways to say things.

Nevertheless, the new API lets the user control “is,” not the API. But hold the phone… that’s all lovely, but apparently not yet in play.

Scot is wonders when Van Morrison jumped the shark.

Standing by…

Music: William Parker :: Corn Meal Dance

3 Replies to “Depends on What “Is” Is”

  1. wait a minute: it’s language /without/ any form of the verb “to be” that engenders creative ways of saying things. well, at least saying truthful things…. (google “e-prime”, “Korzybski”, “general semantics”)

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