Reading Myself Twittering

This post by Jeff Jarvis has me thinking about the relative merits of blogging and twittering.  For me and many in my internet circles, it seems some of the functions of blogging have been assumed by Twitter -- especially linking to and discussing current things as they occur.  Twitter is so much easier to use than any blog application, and its rewards tend to be more immediate.  Another big advantage seems to be that we are much less likely to feel that Twitter is a time suck, since no tweet takes longer than a moment to compose or read.  Blog entries by comparison typically demand more time and energy.  I was interested to note that some of my tweeps have said that they're not blogging until a writing project is complete, and I am basically in their boat (say what? I guess am off the boat temporarily).  Interesting that we have not suspended our twittering as well, or our Facebooking for that matter.  It's not like they are not also a public display of time spent doing something other than our most important business.

Maybe a shift from blogs to tweets is not entirely for the best?  I can think of a few things better about blogs aside from the obvious -- many ideas cannot be expressed in brief.  One big one is that Twitter has no effective archive, and exists mainly in an ephemeral present.  This blog gets traffic every day from people looking for writing on television style and photos of VHS tapes.  On the right-hand side are archives by date and a "greatest hits" link section of previous entries I like to think represent the work I have done here.  The writing on a blog comes up in a Google search and it can be found easily by anyone who seeks it.  Old tweets, by contrast, are much harder to locate and there seems to be little effort to preserve them in any useful way.

Thinking about the temporality of Twitter made me want to look through my old posts, which is not all that easy to do.  You can't easily access the tweets from specific dates or look them up by keyword.  You just have to keep clicking "more" at the bottom of the page to get to older and older material.  So here are some of the things I have said on Twitter -- things I might have said here if it weren't for that easier but also more temporary alternative to a blog.  The point is to reflect on the form, but also to save some of the statuses I like in one place.

12/22/06 I'm writing a letter.  This is my first tweet.  I had no followers when I posted it.  My first follower was @chutry, and he was my only one for a few months.

3/22/07 why do people watch 4x3 content distorted on 16x9 screens? are some people "visually dull"? graphpaper.com.nyud.ne... I would post this again today.  I still have the same thought all the time.

5/15/07 Yes, it's hard to say goodbye to Rory, Lorelai and the good citizens of Stars Hollow. We'll miss them all, a lot.  It surprises me that my Twitter days overlap with Gilmore Girls.  Twitter seems to be of the present, and GGs seems to be of the past.

6/20/07 So, The Good German was pretty much as I expected, a failed pastiche. But it wasn't terrible and I had fun watching it.  This one freaks me out, as I have no recollection whatsoever of watching this movie.  I can't picture it at all.

7/16/07 Did some major gardening today. Not my usual thing. I can see why rich people pay poor people to do it. A new homeowner tweet.  Now that gardening is part of the routine I no longer reflect on it this way.

8/6/07 8:00 garage door won't close. 8:02 Google "garage door won't close" 8:04 problem solved.  I do love the internet.

12/6/07 thinking I might start paying attention to the presidential races...talk me out of it!  I can't believe anyone was paying attention so long before the election.  Seems like a pretty stupendous waste of so many people's time.  I started tweeting more about the race around now, with the primaries in clear sight.

12/27/07 holy shit, Roger Ebert is talking about me! http://tinyurl.com/2z6ezz/2... It doesn't happen every day!

1/15/08 trying to explain to Leo what I do for a living  Certain topics I have tweeted about a lot, like American Idol, hold almost no interest for me now.  I'm not saying they weren't interesting when I wrote them, but that their appeal is ephemeral.  Every mention of the boy, though, is a precious little nugget of lost time recaptured.

1/27/08 Idea for a twitterstream: Obama campaign reporting by Rory Gilmore  It could have been good!

2/14/08 McCain called to ask for my vote next week. He sounded bored and tired. He could work on his vocal variety.  That was a one-percenter for people who have taught public speaking.

2/27/08 Amazon thinks I might like to buy Das Kapital. That or the Laguna Beach second season DVDs.  Basically, a slice of life as a media scholar.

2/28/08 why twitter is so good: no spam or trolls? russellbeattie.com/blo..  Ha ha, no one would say so today.

4/5/08 I don't care what the snobs say, I still love iceberg lettuce  Some tweets have no quality of timeliness.  I don't know why I said this on April 5, 2008.  I could have said it any day in the past 10 years.  After a year or two of creating content on Twitter I could come up with a random tweet generator, and instead of coming up with new material every few hours I could just recycle one of these gems from the archive.

4/21/08 Heidi has Down and Dirty Pictures on her bookshelf, maybe she thinks it'll help her break in to the indie film biz I could not have imagined then that Heidi would one day be among my Twitter followers!

5/5/08 TJ's caramel yogurt is basically candy, but you look healthy when you're eating yogurt and this improves your sense of self Many of my favorite old tweets to read are about food.  I often hesitate to tweet about food because it's a cliché of a boring oversharing online topic.  People mock the bloggers and facebookers who broadcast every cheese sandwich and pancake breakfast for their self-absorption and inability to distinguish interesting from mundane.  I internalize some of this judgment, but actually I find food and eating to be among the most interesting things people talk about online.

5/12/08 Leo sez there are only boys and girls in this world, but some children are boys AND girls. For a while, the phrase "in this world" was big in our house.  E.g., "there are no monsters in this world."

5/18/08 my Milwaukee wishlist: Ikea, dim sum, Hockey Night in Canada  Still true, thought I think you can get HNIC if you subscribe to one of those expensive DirecTV packages.  I want it over the air, like real TV! 

6/29/08 Explaining twitter to Leo (age 4) who thinks I should twitter: "Hi I love you I'll see you soon"  Interesting that I would have given his age.  Now I expect everyone knows, partly because more of the people reading my tweets are friends offline as well as on.

(I stopped Twittering during the summer of 2008.  I felt like I wasn't getting enough in return for what I was giving.  I returned after many more friends joined up, not to mention TV stars and journalists and spammers.)

4/30/09 neither Judaism nor flu panic will come between me and my pork cutlets One of the first tweets after my return.  Timely.

5/10/09 Chipotle is called Barburrito here http://barburrito.co.uk/ and they should definitely use this as their jingle: youtube.com/watc... Writing from Liverpool, the point, as with travel writing in general, was to notice things that are similar but different.

5/15/09 guy next to us at this coffee shop is reading a Kindle, it's our first time seeing one, and we want to reach over his shoulder and lick it There are many varieties of tweet -- jokes, links, complaints, minute details of one's own daily routines, etc. I think my favorite is this kind, the observation of something striking or novel.

6/9/09 a typewritten letter from Costa Rica has arrived and although dated 2009 I'm pretty sure it came from the middle of the 20th century I still have to reply to it!

6/12/09 just watched the noon-hour digital transition on WTMJ, where the phones are reportedly ringing off the hook! Historians of the future will be cursed with so much evidence of our daily experiences.

7/7/09 Up is great, esp if you like dogs, children, faces, voices, aviation, sentiment, and color Not convinced yet that Twitter is a suitable medium for reviews of movies, music, etc.  Maybe it could be.

8/7/09 summer 2009 is when Gen X nostalgia overtook Boomer nostalgia I think this has been my most retweeted post to Twitter.  I like the idea that you could take the content of an essay or blog entry and make it just as informative in a very brief burst.  It has to be the outline of an idea that the reader can fill in for him or herself pretty easily.

8/28/09 Fun times @ the Adam Lambert concert! (The 9 others were there too, Matt & Allison rocked & the hometown crowd screamed loudest for Danny) I wanted to include something to do with American Idol here, just to make this sample representative.

9/2/09 my unscientific data tell me that when you make your syllabus available online but not on paper, many fewer students read your syllabus I often resist the urge to post teaching thoughts on Twitter, because I know some students are reading it.  This is an exception.

9/19/09 Uncle Fred's bowling team isn't giving high fives after strikes, etc., this year. Don't want to spread germs. Sometimes they bump elbows.  This is the kind of thing I like to read when I look at Twitter.  It's a 140-character story about social trends put in terms of personal experience, a citizen journalism equivalent of a "the way we live now" story.  I'd like to write more tweets like this.

9/25/09 seeing "flickr from YAHOO!" is like waking up to find that Nike put a little swoosh on your Converse All-Stars I might have blogged about this two years ago.  It would never occur to me to do that now.  Twitter for the win.

Polanski's supporters manage to combine sexism, anti-Americanism, romantic auteurism, elitism, and disregard for rule of law, yuk  Of course Twitter is a conversation.  The best change since it was introduced was formalizing the @___ function so that it would link to that person's page. 

11/5/09 on Miramax and "the end of the large-scale tarting-up of independent film" salon.com/ent/mo... nice quotes but I predict more tarting up  The last thing I Twittered before I wrote this blog post.<