Sunday, May 24, 2009

I am become Twitter, destroyer of long-form blogging

Twitter is pretty darn cool. The ability to publish brief updates to anyone who cares to receive them is a neat thing. I've been using it for months now, and am learning to use it as a kind of zeitgeist tool - I follow enough people that I can pick up on stories and trends via twitter rather than through other means.

But I'm finding that it just destroys blogging as a communications form for me. I'm an infrequent blogger anyway, for a variety of reasons, and giving me an outlet that forces me to be pithy and is expressly interpersonal and transient just encourages that.

Blog posts, for me, are something I craft. When I write anything longer than a couple of sentences, I revise and rethink, going over the sequence of things to make sure that it flows and is readable. I don't do that with Twitter (at least, I don't do it much) because there just isn't enough space to worry about it.

I don't think this affects everyone; I suspect it hits those who are primarily social bloggers much more than those who are journalists or creative writers.

- Kevin


@claylo said...

Kevin, I have the same problem. I keep sitting down to write longer posts, but never get as far as I'd like. Aside from Twitter destroying the urge to write longer posts, I am losing faith that people will leave their Twitter clients long enough to read a long post.

Brian said...

Same thing has happened to me, although I write and edit fast, so what I'm actually finding is that things I thought I had a lot to say about, I actually only needed 140 for.

mtnygard said...

Yep, same thing here. I was never prolific, but since I got on twitter, my output has decayed to one or two posts a month.

There's a downside to moving communication to twitter, though. It forces us to use highly compressed speech, which in turn relies on a common set of attitudes, symbols, or social context. I often read other people's tweets and wish they'd "unpack" their cryptic grunts into some long form argument. Otherwise, reducing all thought to soundbites can lead to trivial, surface level agreement as different readers each believe they know what the tweeter means.

(That's not limited to twitter soundbites, either... Care to make a bet on how many people read "Yes We Can" and "Change We Can Believe In" the same way?)

Brainiac4 said...

@mtnygard: Yes, there is a definite downside to the extremely low bandwidth of Twitter. Online, we're already limited to text, which means we don't have the nuances of intonation and facial expression. Further limiting to 140 characters means we're left with just the most basic communications.

Or, pretty much what you just said. :)