Contemplating the Tweet

Internet Culture Technology
I'm not sure yet if I love Twitter or not. But I think I'd better get used to it, because it's clearly here to stay, and increasingly appears to be a game-changer in every corner of the social internet.

If proof of the power of simple technology were ever needed, Twitter is that proof. I bet that some within the company would like to expand and diversify the service, but I hope they continue to resist that temptation. If Twitter did not force every single user -- it doesn't matter if you're John Cleese or some guy from Queens -- to post into the same rectangle with the same 140 characters, a lot of the charm would be lost. I wonder if the company can sustain this simplicity forever, but even if they don't, even if Twitter.com were to ever degrade in quality (as Facebook did, a few times), "twitter" has already become something more than "Twitter". It's the way many of us spread our news now. It replaces -- to some extent, for some people -- the instant message, the text message, the quick group email. But will it displace the blog post? I hope not, and this is where I have some concerns about the growing trend.

When's the last time Ed Champion posted a links roundup? He doesn't have to anymore; he just tweets the stuff as it rolls in. What's lost is the archivability. A single tweet can be wonderful or brilliant, but it's a fact that Twitter doesn't archive well. A links roundup on a popular blog earns a spot on the Wayback Machine and belongs to eternity. Does a tweet? I hope so, but the format doesn't encourage a writer to think in timeless terms.

Still, it's a format we can't ignore. Unlike some other bloggers I read, I don't plan to begin twittering my thoughts on literature or philosophy or history or the arts. That's what my website is for. I've tried writing about what I'm reading a few times (like today), but I like the blog format better for a variety of reasons. However, I will occasionally post about other random things on my mind -- songs on the radio, changes to the Taco Bell menu, responses to things other tweeters say -- who knows what I'll talk about? And I guess it's about time I announce my Twitter account here. Follow me if you dare.
9 Responses to "Contemplating the Tweet"

Wow, I'm getting a kicks from that Wayback Machine! How cool to see how Litkicks looked years ago. Some of the formats, I remember. Others, I had forgotten about.

by Tim Barrus on

I twitter tempestuously. -- Tim Barrus

What writers would you give that think in "timeless terms"?

by Allison on

Just a note: you could try twitwall if you want to post more than 140 characters.

by Levi Asher on

Warren, here's one example of a person who uses Twitter to good (and possibly timeless) poetic effect -- my friend Greg Severance, who has been (among other things) posting single lines from the Dylan song "Visions of Johanna" at random intervals:

http://twitter.com/santababylonia

My tweets are not nearly as good.

Tim Barrus -- I will surely follow you!

by Bill Ectric on

Next someone will come out with something called "Word" where you post one word at a time.

I work for Tim Barrus. He does NOT Twitter. I do it (and everything else) for him. Please -- keep it down to 140 pages? Oh, I mean paragraphs. Characters? Pixels? Barrus would fail at Twittering. When he says he Twitters, he means someone does it for him. I am allowed to slander his character because he pays so little. About $1.40 per week. Bird feed. As I write this, he's in Japan. I get a few days off from his supervising my Twittering. I can Twitter in peace. Until he returns. http://twitter.com/Eavan

I am following Levi. He is really the best Twitter Twittering. Follow me. I am following Barrus. Twittering in the trees.

by xian on

Forget the dead you left/They will not follow you

(on twitter)

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