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Ai Weiwei Talks Cities and Twitter

Movies, Technology

Jonathan Landreth at Foreign Policy interviewed Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei. I like this bit about New York:

In Little Italy, you can still see the old buildings and the streets where they shot The Godfather and Mean Streets. That’s a town where you can still relate to other people, your father’s or your grandfather’s joy or sadness. You can sense it. Normally we call it humanity. Where is the humanity in Beijing? Who can remember the corner where he went to school, or can touch a particular old piece of wall? Can you remember anything here? There’s nothing left.

What he calls humanity many would call nostalgia. This seems to be such an excellent case for sentimentality. Perhaps it’s what makes us human.

He goes on to talk about Twitter:

Twitter is my city, my favorite city. I can talk to anybody I want to. And anybody who wants to talk to me will get my response. They know me better than their relatives or my relatives. There’s so much imagination there; a lot of times it’s just like poetry. You just read one sentence, and you sense this kind of breeze or a kind of look. It’s amazing.

I don’t know how many times I’ve tried to explain to family and friends that Twitter is a place where I like to spend time. They look at me like I have three heads and then go check their Facebook statuses, the irony lost on them.

Ai, who owes much of his international prominence to the social network, put it better than anyone: Twitter is a city.

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