The word “blog" has always sounded kind of gross, like the precursor sound to vomit. And for most blogs on the net (except for the ones on this fine newspaper’s website, of course!), that’s actually the case! But what about We The People of the short-attention span, “Generation-Youtube?" We don’t want to read another thousand-word indictment of Tim Kaine’s eyebrows or a tome about celebrity culture or even a blog about blogs. Except this one. Where are the concise Microblogs of the internet? Let me tell you about Twitter.
I can tell, just by the name, that you are immediately twittelated (sorry, I had to). The concept of Twitter is simple: in a 140-character-or-less message (a “tweet,") you are to answer the question, “What are you doing?"
Not unlike status updates on Facebook and Myspace, Twitter facilitates social networking of a different kind; not only can you follow what your friends are doing at any given time (you can update via the web, text message, IM, and now iPhone/iPod Touch applications), but you can also search for certain topics or groups of terms to see what people around the world (in every language imaginable) think about said topic.
Unsurprisingly, this has completely changed how information is divested across the web. Instead of waiting for reports from news websites, I recently searched Twitter for updates on this year’s ComicCon in San Diego. The result was millions of tweets giving detail on every part of the convention imaginable: hilarious/sad people in costumes, announcements from television showrunners, new Lost footage. And I didn’t have to read a long, expository article to get to the good stuff. Now it only takes one lick to get to the center.
Twitter can also be almost a challenge: instead of literally answering the question “What are you doing?" (which, let’s face it, could be boring to read), how can you be witty and clever and endearing in 140 characters or less? I struggle with doing it in 500 word articles.
Sometimes blow-by-blow updates are still amusing, especially if you’ve just witnessed the famous Hooters birthday song, as I recently did in Panama City Beach. I mean, how else can you describe something like that except completely straight?
On the other hand, a handful of Twitter updates from Oscar-winning Juno screenwriter Diablo Cody a few months ago solidified Twitter as a viable force in blogging to me. In a chain of updates, she delivered the following observation:
When I was 20, I tried sushi for the first time. / I felt retroactively cheated, like, “how could I not have tasted this food before?" / It seems patently unfair to wait two decades to discover a favorite food. Different than a band or film. Primal. / Anyway, some people are like sushi in that regard. / You're like, "How did I just meet you? Where were you when I was 6, 14, 22?" / “What took you so long?"
It was at once concise and profound, not a total dissertation on the human condition.
The question “What are you doing?" becomes a springboard, a Platform 9 ¾, transporting blogs to an entirely new dimension. And as more people hear about Twitter and become involved (my own father, for instance), we’re one step closer to complete connectedness. If that scares you, I’m sorry. I find it completely fascinating.
What am I doing? Wondering if people who use Twitter would be called Twits. In that case, you absolutely should be a Twit with me. (113 characters!)