Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Hello from Singapore! (@HellofrmSG)

If you've been spending time on Twitter lately, you might have seen the rise of a new phenomenon known as rotation curation, in which a Twitter account sees a change in the person tweeting (or the curator) on a regular basis (usually weekly).

It all began with the Swedish governmental tourist bureau, VisitSweden, and the Swedish Institute. Realising that the world's image of Sweden was constrained by stereotypes of uniformity, it was decided to turn over the nation's official Twitter account, @Sweden, to a new and different Swede each week for uncensored expression of their individual Swedishness.

This soon spawned similar projects all over the world, with rotation curation projects representing the people of cities, countries, cultural groups, and so on.

As the Rotation Curation site states:
What this means is that while Twitter began as a medium for individuals to share their experience with other individuals, it has now evolved into a medium for communities to share their experience with the entire world. Moreover, and reciprocally, it has become a global offering for individuals to dynamically participate in the real-time life experience of communities they find of particular interest.

This evolution of Twitter elevates it from the commonly understood stage of social media to a new — with vast potential — plane of cultural networking.
Rotation curation has generally been well-received, despite some controversy regarding the statements made by some of the @Sweden curators. It was probably a matter of time before Singapore joined in as well.
One Twitter account. A different person living in Singapore a week, every week.

Rotation curation projects started off with Sweden's official twitter account (@sweden). Since then, similar accounts have blossomed for nations and cities all over the world, from Mexico to Russia to London.

This is Singapore's version.

We want to show that Singapore is not just a place where chewing gum is banned and graffiti gets you caned. We are so much more than Disneyland with the death penalty. We want to tell stories of Singapore and Singaporeans and those who live in Singapore.

So join us. Talk to us. Curate with us. Madness? No. This is Singapore.
Hello from Singapore is the brainchild of June Yang (@MizHalle) and Kirsten Han (@Kixes). After making its debut last week, in the hands of journalist and history buff Eisen Teo, I took over the reins this week, and will be the face of @HellofrmSG until midnight, 15th July.

It's been an interesting experience, representing the nation in some way on Twitter. I've tried to showcase aspects of Singapore culture, especially our food, to the point that people overseas say that they miss Singaporean food.

I've also been sharing a lot of information about Singapore's biodiversity and wildlife. For instance, I talked a bit about my Sunday trip to look at the marine life on Terumbu Raya:

And highlighted instances of wildlife being encountered as roadkill:

Over the last few days, I have provided nuggets of information and links to publicly accessible resources and reference materials covering a range of topics, often the result of questions from curious Singaporeans. From monkeys, squirrels, and bats, to birds of prey, lizards, spiders, and plants, these questions have helped me exercise my knowledge of local wildlife and biodiversity, while at the same time highlighting the fact that a lot of this information is available online. I've also participated in discussions regarding illegal pets, fossils in Singapore, and introduced species. I've even helped answer queries regarding guided tours on Pulau Semakau. It's easy to fall into the trap of tweeting too often and spamming people's feeds, but it's really exciting to be able to talk about our natural heritage, not just to fellow Singaporeans, but also to the rest of the world.

It definitely has been a very interesting experience, and while the natural history-related tweets from @HellofrmSG will end once I hand over to the next curator, I'm sure there'll be lots of interesting insights and content from future curators.

In the meantime, I'm fielding questions about nature in Singapore, and we'll see what other topics I'll talk about over the next few days.

People who are interested in volunteering to be curators for @HellofrmSG are welcome to sign up.