Friday, January 30, 2009

Can Too Much Make You Go Blind?

James Lileks explains Twitter to ignoramuses such as me.

Twitter is an addictive message service that lets you find out what 2,026 strangers put in their coffee that morning.

You ask: How is this different from a "blog," other than "blog" sounds like a drain obstruction and Twitter sounds like someone who's free-based espresso and helium? Well, you can go on for 934,045 words on a blog. Twitter limits you to 140 characters.If you say that no one can accomplish anything with 140 characters, I'd agree, if we were talking about the recent Star Wars movies. Otherwise, no. Short = good. Brevity, soul of wit.

I have come across many blog posts that lost me in about that many characters. James explains the terms.

Twitter is the service. Twittering is the general conversation. A "tweet" is an individual message, and yes, it's an infantile term. "I tweeted" is what a 3-year-old with gas might say. "I got a tweet" sounds like someone squeezed a budgie and mailed you a recording.

A prominent Minneapolis politician uses it.

Anyway, a while ago someone tweeted the news that Mayor Rybak is on Twitter; I decided to "follow" him, which is the term for subscribing to someone's tweets. He'd pop up every other day, announcing some initiative or conference. Then one day he tweeted his reelection bid, and that's when I thought: That might be a first.

I sent Rybak an interview request -- via Twitter, of course heaven forbid I pick up a phone. We spoke later. Are you the first mayor in this country to be on Twitter? "Let's say that I am and see if they argue," Rybak said. "I feel lonely that no other mayors are on it."