My mind has been on Twitter a lot lately.  One hundred and forty characters (INCLUDING SPACES!!!).  Retweeting.  SMS.  Hashtags.  Trending topics.  Followers.  For all the simplicity of Twitter, it's sometimes exhausting to think about.  I don't 'tweet' as often as some.  I don't always like being bombarded with status updates, and I don't like bombarding other people.  If I want to receive a constant stream of information, I will call someone, or make plans to meet in person.  I like to think I'm old-fashioned.

This is not to say I don't appreciate Twitter.  I love hearing what my SIL is up to all the way down in Dayton at 3 pm on a Tuesday, and I love the @FakeAPStylebook guidelines my good friend from college retweets on occasion.  I even enjoy following (haha) the latest headlines -- that's when I really appreciate the 140-character limit.

More and more, I am understanding the doors Twitter has opened for the lines of communication, and the standards it is setting for the future.  Major companies all over the U. S. (if not the world) are using Twitter for networking purposes.  Friends and family are using it to keep in touch.  Remember when email got big?  We were all overwhelmed by the idea of a delivery system that was so fast-paced and impersonal.  But here is why I believe that Twitter is so revolutionary: not only is it breaking new ground in the way we communicate, it's keeping us comfortable at the same time.

Unlike some other social media sites, Twitter's technology is simple -- each user gets a profile and their own page to fill up with tweets.  On this page you can also see tweets from those you want to stay in touch with, or follow.  You can choose your own level of involvement: you can send and receive tweets on your cell phone, BlackBerry, or just stick to the web if that's what makes you happy.  And Twitter is faster than even sending an email; businesses, and regular people like me, value that.  I may be old-fashioned, but I'm not ashamed to admit that I'd prefer writing a 2-sentence update every day, rather than wracking my memory to churn out an extensive letter every month.  The best part is, Twitter has that personal feel to it.  The people you follow are familiar to you -- from your closest relatives to your coworkers. Or they are companies or organizations of major interest to you.  And because the beauty of Twitter updates is in their brevity, it's easy to want to stay connected.  There's no doubt about it, I do feel a special bond with all of my other Tweeters.  It's like we're in our own little club, even though I know millions of people all have members only jackets just like mine.  But I'll admit it.  I do love Twitter.

But then I worry.

Have you seen this book called Twitterature?  Written by two college students, Alexander Aciman and Emmett Rensin, the premise of this book is "The World's Greatest Books in Twenty Tweets or Less."  When I first heard this concept, I thought it was genius.  The approach sounds hilarious, in that "Oh, man, I've got to see what this is about" sort of way.  I mean, that is some love of literature, to have learned it so well that you could condense it that much...And then I see the Editorial Reviews on Amazon:

"Do you hear that? It's the sound of Shakespeare, rolling over in his grave."
--The Wall Street Journal

"Twitterature makes me want to punch someone, preferably the 'authors'. They're in Chicago. I'm gonna take a road trip..."
--@damig, Twitter

"JUst f*#%&ng shoot me now..."
--Mike C,

Yeah.  And after seeing a fellow Shelfari user point out that "unfortunately the writers have chosen to poke fun at the novels they're condensing, in addition to...well, condensing them. Most of the jokes fall embarrassingly flat..."  I guess I'm not so convinced anymore that the explosion of inspiration I imagined Twitter providing will actually transfer seamlessly to a physical paper page.

I find it curious how people need to take a communication tool and inject it into every other related mechanism that's been out there previously.  Twitter is a useful tool, but I don't believe it can be molded to the expectations we have set for books.  That's not what it was intended for.  I can argue that Twitter is an expansion of literature, which I thought was where Aciman and Rensin were heading with Twitterature.  Literature was formed, I assume, for communication -- to present ideas.  I just think we should be careful when thinking about using new technology to enhance the tried and true.  I must admit, it was fun to imagine the marriage of Twitter and a book.  But now that I've had a chance to ponder, I realize it's like incest.  You can't marry the son to the mother anymore.  You end up with a child who can't even read, and then I won't have anything to blog about.  Do people push books and Twitter together because deep down they fear the change?  Or are they trying too hard to make the new technology even more accessible?  It's a whole new world out there, and that is scary.  But you know what's nice about it?  It's the only one where we'll still able to stand in two places at once.


  1. Twitter mystifies me. I don't think I understand how to use it -- I usually tweet when I have an idea for a blog post but no time to write more than one sentence. I get overwhelmed when I get on the site -- I only follow about 100 people but there are maybe 10 of them who are tweeting every few minutes and it would take days for me to catch up with them.

    So needless to say, I can't see Twitter and books finding harmony any time soon!

  2. I agree with you, the amount of updates can get quite overwhelming. My solution to that was to choose only a select amount of Tweeters whose updates I would receive on my cell phone -- maybe 4 tops -- those whose days I REALLY care to know about. I also made sure they were pretty average in the number of times they tweet per day, so I'm not buried in updates. For the rest, I just view them on when I feel like it. These are my acquaintances, or news organizations, etc. If I don't hear what's going on with them for a few days, or weeks, it won't be the end of the world.

    Maybe one day I'll turn all of my own tweets into a memoir. ;) Don't tell me you're not intrigued, haha! Thanks for reading, Lynn!