A New Type of Writing Assignment
Updated: Aug 15
” You need to write what ?” asked my mum.
Like all things 21st century, if you can explain a new-fangled project or something rather abstract to your mum or to a child, then it means you have passed the explanation test.
It was sehr viel Spaß (and slightly daunting) at the end of August to be guest Curator of a 12K cultural twitter account @I_amGermany
Guest curators are on a weekly rotation and have to be living in or lived in Germany for a certain period of time, work in Germany and have some pretty strong views (in a good way though). It is a rather difficult process to get selected. But one that was incredibly rewarding particularly during the week I was curator as it was the anniversary (Germans do love anniversaries!) on 13th August of the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961.
Inspired by the same hugely successful twitter account @sweden where a weekly Swede was given the rotating curatorship, @I_amGermany is a fantastic platform where there are thousands of exchanges across time zones, continents, social demographics,age, gender or religion.
In a world of trolls and cyber hate, the purpose of these accounts is to promote free speech, cultural exchange and debate on any topic, nothing is off limits. I had to somehow steer the conversation in a meaningful and engaging way with the thousands of followers, to ensure that people’s views are respected but note that any discriminatory, sexist or racist tweets were off-limits.
It is quite simply, twitter’s best version of itself.
As a digital curator, the assignment was somewhere at the fault lines of a MC, ethnographer, social media manager, creative thinker and….mediator !
As part of my 6 day curatorship, 1000s shared their views on
🔸life in divided Germany 🔸travel destinations in Germany 🔸family history 🔸parenting 🔸German culture & differences to english speaking countries
I will be honest, it wasn’t easy asking complete strangers on twitter to share their experiences of living in a divided Germany and whether they grew up in East or West Germany.
A few people opened up, and then literally it opened the floodgates so that about 50 people shared their stories and photos of the heartbreak of divided families or anecdotes about sending care packages to aunts in the East or about an escaped brother or their family history generally, amongst the many posts.
It was very affirming.
Because I was getting RSI from lots of typing, I offered an “ask me anything” session and recorded my answers.
Here’s a little video of answers to questions on 1) the Berliner “Schnautze” (the Berlin attitude) and 2) life in Sydney
Interestingly as I was drafting this month’s newsletter, I learnt that @sweden twitter account is going to be closed down, according to the NYT.