Contemplating the Tweet

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

  1. Wow, I’m getting a kicks from
    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.

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

  3. Warren, here’s one example of
    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!

  4. I work for Tim Barrus. He
    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.

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Litkicks will turn 30 years old in the summer of 2024! We can’t believe it ourselves. We don’t run as many blog posts about books and writers as we used to, but founder Marc Eliot Stein aka Levi Asher is busy running two podcasts. Please check out our latest work!