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.