Another Post About Twitter

by Art Fag City on February 20, 2009 · 18 comments Events

art fag city, twitter, Paddy Johnson
Twitter screengrab AFC

“Can you explain Twitter to me?” my friend asked yesterday, worrying he sounded old.  He wasn’t asking me what it did per say, but why any cared about it.  I wrote him a response, but hadn’t thought to publish it until reading Edward Winkleman‘s Thursday post quoting a commenter who thought blogs had had their day.   The assessment is only partially correct, particularly in relation to Twitter a tool Winkleman mentions later in the post, but to understand why a bit of background is needed. As such, I’m reposting my email explaining the practical use value of twitter, and will follow it with a post about importance of editorial imprimatur.  This post does not address how the tool effects art criticism, though I will note the art world has not yet seen the equivalent of the record review tweeter 1000TimesYes. Jon Williams points out this isn’t entirely true. http://twitter.com/vvork

Twitter: What’s It Good For?

1: Let’s say a plane crashes into a tower; It’s the most relevant news item of that day, but Google doesn’t bring back results because it relies on links. Twitter solves that problem, because user status updates are entirely searchable. Twitter isn’t just a web app, it’s a search engine.

2: RSS feeds are great, but sometimes you don’t want to read everything on that site. A blogger with a twitter account (doesn’t always) but typically will post links only to the most interesting stories. Twitter is a filter.

3: 140 characters isn’t a lot to work with so it forces people to be very concise. In fact, I would go so far to say that its short hand will likely change written English (far more significantly than say, LOL). Twitter is a headline generator ideal for scanning.

4: Unlike Facebook, just because someone follows you on twitter doesn’t mean you have to follow them. Facebook has some of these settings of course (more from this person, less from this person) but it’s all manual, and more than I have time to manage quite honestly. Twitter is a semi-permeable membrane (excuse the cliche), that allows users to filter the information coming in, while maximizing the distribution outwards.

Part two to follow.

  • http://wizardishungry.com/ Jon Williams

    I will note the art world has not yet seen the equivelent of the record review tweeter 1000TimesYes.

    http://twitter.com/vvork

  • http://wizardishungry.com/ Jon Williams

    I will note the art world has not yet seen the equivelent of the record review tweeter 1000TimesYes.

    http://twitter.com/vvork

  • http://wizardishungry.com/ Jon Williams

    I will note the art world has not yet seen the equivelent of the record review tweeter 1000TimesYes.

    http://twitter.com/vvork

  • http://neditpasmoncoeur.blogspot.com Leah Sandals

    Thanks for these musings, Paddy. I belong to some freelance writers lists (yes, old-skool electronica indeed) and there is much debate about what Twitter is for, exactly. This should help.

    I don’t think blogs will suffer a demise, per se—hell, they’re free to publish, unlike print—but I do find the tension between paid “pitch” writing and unpaid “blog” writing interesting for freelancers in general.

    If course this tension doesn’t apply so much where the blog feeds a writer’s income, as it can for many.

  • http://neditpasmoncoeur.blogspot.com Leah Sandals

    Thanks for these musings, Paddy. I belong to some freelance writers lists (yes, old-skool electronica indeed) and there is much debate about what Twitter is for, exactly. This should help.

    I don’t think blogs will suffer a demise, per se—hell, they’re free to publish, unlike print—but I do find the tension between paid “pitch” writing and unpaid “blog” writing interesting for freelancers in general.

    If course this tension doesn’t apply so much where the blog feeds a writer’s income, as it can for many.

  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    Thanks to Jon for the twitter/vvork mention.

    I have a blog and I have a twitter account at twitter.com/tommoody – I put a fair amount of time into the latter but have always treated it like a goof; little blobs of nonsense, personal reminiscences, quotes, and in-jokes plopped into an easy-come, easy-go fad site, the likes of which corporate America gins out as fast as you can say stumbleupon.

    The content of my blog is mine, whereas I’m fairly sure my posts and everything else on twitter will be bought by a fortune 500 company and rules will begin to appear about who owns what and what you can do on the site. Like MySpace it will be vacated for the next hot utility. I’m saving all my twi44$, just as I’ve saved all the twitter/vvorks, for eventual editing and/or reblogging.

    The best uses of it I’ve seen are literary–people who think about what it might be like to read back over 100 or so twi44$. Strings of conversations someone is having with people you aren’t following are pretty much rubbish as a reading experience or an archive.

    A few of my friends use it as a diary and I enjoy knowing their whereabouts and doings. But I doubt I would ever use twi44er for information.

  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    Thanks to Jon for the twitter/vvork mention.

    I have a blog and I have a twitter account at twitter.com/tommoody – I put a fair amount of time into the latter but have always treated it like a goof; little blobs of nonsense, personal reminiscences, quotes, and in-jokes plopped into an easy-come, easy-go fad site, the likes of which corporate America gins out as fast as you can say stumbleupon.

    The content of my blog is mine, whereas I’m fairly sure my posts and everything else on twitter will be bought by a fortune 500 company and rules will begin to appear about who owns what and what you can do on the site. Like MySpace it will be vacated for the next hot utility. I’m saving all my twi44$, just as I’ve saved all the twitter/vvorks, for eventual editing and/or reblogging.

    The best uses of it I’ve seen are literary–people who think about what it might be like to read back over 100 or so twi44$. Strings of conversations someone is having with people you aren’t following are pretty much rubbish as a reading experience or an archive.

    A few of my friends use it as a diary and I enjoy knowing their whereabouts and doings. But I doubt I would ever use twi44er for information.

  • Art Fag City

    @Leah Funny, I too find there a tension between what I put on my blog vrs what I write elsewhere, but the blog often precedence.

    @Tom Twitter’s slowly replacing my RSS feed, so I definitely use it for info. As you said though, the strings of conversations people have with those you aren’t following are basically meaningless.

  • Art Fag City

    @Leah Funny, I too find there a tension between what I put on my blog vrs what I write elsewhere, but the blog often precedence.

    @Tom Twitter’s slowly replacing my RSS feed, so I definitely use it for info. As you said though, the strings of conversations people have with those you aren’t following are basically meaningless.

  • http://www.heather-rasley.com heather r.

    “In fact, I would go so far to say that its short hand will likely change written English”

    I would even venture to say that Twitter will have a lasting effect on the way we interpret and talk about the world around us, every day.

    In my clutch of techie friends, things are rather explicitly classified as Twitter-worthy or not-Twitter-worthy. When, for instance, a clever phrase is said during a conversation, it often gets posted to Twitter on the spot. This act is announced to the group so we can all be aware and agree that, yes, that was in fact a Twitter-worthy moment. Events, conversations, and even objects are evaluated based on whether they are appropriate for being broadcast to a group of a few hundred followers, in 140 characters or less.

    There are lots of implications here on what types of events and moments will get amplified, and which will get lost — not just on Twitter, but in our lives. Plenty of beautiful, thoughtful, wonderful things aren’t Twitter-worthy because there’s just not enough room to explain them there. Will a few years of continuous tweeting dull our ability to appreciate them? I’m curious, and a little scared, to find out.

  • http://www.heather-rasley.com heather r.

    “In fact, I would go so far to say that its short hand will likely change written English”

    I would even venture to say that Twitter will have a lasting effect on the way we interpret and talk about the world around us, every day.

    In my clutch of techie friends, things are rather explicitly classified as Twitter-worthy or not-Twitter-worthy. When, for instance, a clever phrase is said during a conversation, it often gets posted to Twitter on the spot. This act is announced to the group so we can all be aware and agree that, yes, that was in fact a Twitter-worthy moment. Events, conversations, and even objects are evaluated based on whether they are appropriate for being broadcast to a group of a few hundred followers, in 140 characters or less.

    There are lots of implications here on what types of events and moments will get amplified, and which will get lost — not just on Twitter, but in our lives. Plenty of beautiful, thoughtful, wonderful things aren’t Twitter-worthy because there’s just not enough room to explain them there. Will a few years of continuous tweeting dull our ability to appreciate them? I’m curious, and a little scared, to find out.

  • http://www.heather-rasley.com heather r.

    “In fact, I would go so far to say that its short hand will likely change written English”

    I would even venture to say that Twitter will have a lasting effect on the way we interpret and talk about the world around us, every day.

    In my clutch of techie friends, things are rather explicitly classified as Twitter-worthy or not-Twitter-worthy. When, for instance, a clever phrase is said during a conversation, it often gets posted to Twitter on the spot. This act is announced to the group so we can all be aware and agree that, yes, that was in fact a Twitter-worthy moment. Events, conversations, and even objects are evaluated based on whether they are appropriate for being broadcast to a group of a few hundred followers, in 140 characters or less.

    There are lots of implications here on what types of events and moments will get amplified, and which will get lost — not just on Twitter, but in our lives. Plenty of beautiful, thoughtful, wonderful things aren’t Twitter-worthy because there’s just not enough room to explain them there. Will a few years of continuous tweeting dull our ability to appreciate them? I’m curious, and a little scared, to find out.

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  • Wick

    If it were 1997 I might understand the twitter technical merit. However, it’s 2009. Just about everything “web 2.0″ is laughable and hardly any sort of technical advancement.

    Pretty sure I’d rather have a nostalgic brick phone than an iPhone anyday.

  • Wick

    If it were 1997 I might understand the twitter technical merit. However, it’s 2009. Just about everything “web 2.0″ is laughable and hardly any sort of technical advancement.

    Pretty sure I’d rather have a nostalgic brick phone than an iPhone anyday.

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