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I’ve embraced wittering on Twitter with a vengeance. And tweeting on Twitter is fine. The risk is not, as David Cameron so recently said, that too many tweets might make a twat (which is a given for any Tory MP), but that 140 characters is a beguiling limit.


The micro-blogging that Twitter gave birth to reflects the ideal that much can be said in a small burst of text. And that is undeniably true. Powerful ideas are often expressed in simple slogans. Twitters meteoric rise shows how fascinating the idea of strong but frequent updates can be, especially in parts of the world where Internet access  is not safe in big bursts (think China or Iran).

However, I’m not fighting an evil regime, and I have no desire to evade the Great Firewall.

My concern with Twitter is more prosaic. It’s making my ideas dumber. It’s so simple to constrict an idea to the simple idea and to limit it to the (micro) format. The challenge posed by Twitter is to make things simple. By hiding the the idea behind big explanations and fancy acronyms we fail the challenge of communication through Twitters jaundiced eyes.

At the same time I’m drawn to the words of Albert Einstein – that things should be made as simple as they can be but no simpler. I wonder if Twitter has failed me in this, or rather that I have failed my ideas by turning them over to Twitter.

When you start to think in terms of the drafting limit, when take  an idea, and wonder how to compress it into 140 characters, into a caricature of the notion you want to convey you do the idea an injustice. An injustice that you cannot repair because ideas are fleeting, and their impact transient if you decide not to lock them down through expression and the written word.

The question becomes one of balance. What do I do with Twitter that is different from this blog, and what do I do with this blog that is different from what I do with Twitter.

The obvious answer is that this blog is for longer posts. For ideas that deserve expansion. The reply to that is that I don’t know which ideas are deserving until I start expanding them, and if I commit them to Twitter first, they are committed to the world as they are and as they will be. For better or worse, once I commit something to Twitter, I rarely revise the idea in my head.

At the same time I know that the process of writing for me is a process of discovery and balance – and that perhaps things are going too smoothly and too well for me to depend on the outpouring of words that is my outpouring of grief . So in that sense perhaps the answer is to keep my blog for a day when its needed, and to convey happy banal thoughts over Twitter.

If that makes me a Twittering buffoon, so be it.



    • Dom
    • Posted September 9, 2009 at 11:09 pm
    • Permalink

    Have you tried Woofer?

    • mtalib
    • Posted September 9, 2009 at 11:14 pm
    • Permalink

    I haven’t but I like the idea 🙂

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