Sunday, February 17, 2008

Another Twitter victim

Succumbed to the pressure of Twitter to keep in touch with Leslie in L.A. and Rogelio here in Charlotte.
Ran into an unexpected success story right away.

Ro had emailed me a link earlier this week to Tommy Tomlinson's blog, which I admit I don't regularly visit. Tommy was asking readers to describe Charlotte in six words.
I couldn't visit at the time, but came back Sunday morning to see 193 comments. That's bigger than anything I've ever seen at blogs.

Had chosen on Saturday night some different people to "follow" on Twitter that I don't normally read via Google Reader. There's a small group of incredibly wired folks who travel in the same circles on the web, and one can fall into the trap of reading the same people all the time. This time, I chose Jack Lail as one to follow, from just over the mountains in Knoxville. He's more from Neil Mara's or Ted Mellnik's generation of wired journalists, and I wanted to hear a new, "old" voice. Within the hour, Lail started following my "tweets" because I was following him.

I "tweeted" early Sunday about Tommy's 193 comments, and Lail picked up the idea on his blog. How cool: Tommy's idea leaped the mountains.

So, in the spirit of Twitter, some small, further thoughts:
--Twitter is a great signpost to other content, in combination with tiny urls.
--It's a great playground for headline writers and others who enjoy the challenge of conveying information in tiny bits. Copy editors can rule there.
--Busy moms trapped in cars schlepping children are there. (Steve Gunn note.)
-- Newspapers are there. The smart ones fragment their feeds. NYT lets me follow arts coverage only, or business, or metro.
--Some content ideas are perfect for Twitter when they wouldn't find an audience elsewhere. Charlotte's feature pages are soliciting emails from readers on their six-word descriptions of their lives; I'm betting Twitter would've been a better tool.
--Twitter can be one tool to help give a voice to those who only have cellphones to get their word out.

Others have written plenty about Twitter and "micro-content." Posts worth revisiting include Rich, here, and Howard Weaver, here and Weaver on the six-word game, here.

Like other new tools, Twitter likely will have explosions of interest and then settle down, with many orphaned accounts. It's possible mine will be one of them. Life intrudes.
Still, it's a powerful, fast way to share ideas with little maintenance, and something else journalists should put in their arsenal.
It seems to work best bite-sized, like the New York Times feeds. So I'd love to carve up and start hurling tiny urls, instead of one big lump feed. But I do have that day job and some other stuff to do, so we'll see. Thanks, Jack, for giving me a success story. Thanks, Paul, for making me laugh at Austrian sock puppets discussing the plight of workers. Thanks, Leslie and Ro, for dragging me into Twitter. I think.

"Stop talking, start walking."

--Jimmy Carter, 1980

1 comment:

Andria said...

Checking my facts further:
Fellow Bulldawg Jane Pope in her Sacred Space blog had a post recently that generated 129 comments, including several from "pornstudent."

The lively back-n-forth resembled the mud wrestling at Mary Newsom's space earlier.

Jane weighed in at one point with this:
"I would like to remind everyone to talk about beliefs, not individuals. Danbo59, you are stepping over the line in calling Iztok an egotistical drug user whose beliefs are laughable. You have a lot to offer the conversation, so please tone down the insults. There are plenty of disagreements to discuss without making it personal."

Question remains: When the blog generates an emotional battle of words, is it worth the cost to the blogger/moderator? Do those comments count as much as others when measuring reader engagement?

Tommy escaped this with the six-word game. Other bloggers have to be prepared to wade in and break up the mud fight occasionally if one breaks out. Just something to remember. And good job, Jane.