Sunday, September 18, 2011

In which a beginner thinks about Twitter

The brevity that is the soul of Twitter is not, I feel, entirely my thing.

It's enough of a struggle writing four short fiction reviews a week, into which one must somehow cram just enough of the plot to make one's subsequent remarks about the book comprehensible and then try to say two or three acceptably useful things about it, in a space the size of a hummingbird. For me, trying to fit pithy observations into 140-character Tweets is a sort of busman's holiday in triplicate.

What I'm enjoying very much about it, however, is following people. There are those who were already bloggy mates, who greeted me so warmly on my arrival in the Twitterverse that it felt like arriving at some gigantic cosmic party and catching sight of a group of one's mates waving to one over by the canapés. And there are those to whom I am unknown but of whom I am a fan at a respectful distance.

People in the latter category who have taken to the form like ducks to the proverbial include Crikey's brilliant First Dog on the Moon ('Poodles! I have seen them!'), ABC political reporter and incidental comedienne Annabel Crabb, the inimitable Stephen Fry, the dazzling Margaret Atwood and the incomparable Alexander McCall Smith, whose specialty seems to be poetically encapsulating complex yet common moral dilemmas in 140 characters or less.

I have discovered from reading his tweets that he is a fan of Auden and Vermeer, which makes me love him even more, and among other things he is the master of the gem-like obituary: 'Alas, alas Patrick Leigh Fermor is dead: a writer who was a master of elegant prose, Latinate in its feel; a beautiful voice is silent now.'


Mindy said...

I use twitter almost entirely for cooing at other people's babies, catching up on the latest news and leaks, admiring from afar, and generally chatting about kids, cats, chooks and various minutiae which is usually easily put in 140 characters or if I go too long I use >> to indicate that it continues in the next tweet.

Twitter is actually a good way to find interesting people without having to rely on someone linking on a blogpost. However, beware of people getting personal about their lives then betting all upset when someone dares give them advice (I have seen this in action but not been caught out yet). Sometimes it feels like you know someone because they have shared some quite personal stuff, but of course you don't. It is like people watching, but seeing inside their head sometimes. Fascinating.

elsewhere said...

Is it different from blogging and fb in that way, Mindy?

I'm too scared to join in case of writing something irredeemably tactless which is online forever. I know people who seem to use it, however, s their main way of following news, current affairs, etc.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

It's very early days, Mindy, but I don't think I'll be using it for that stuff - FB is my medium of choice for cooing etc. As for interesting people -- the actual real-life people in my life are almost too interesting for me to cope, so I'm not looking for any more. My instincts so far have led me to follow mainly literary types (but not publishing houses, which mostly just post ads and blurb) and the political journalists I like.

El, I agree about posting something and thinking better of it when you realise how it might be taken -- I've done that once or twice on FB. I think the main rule here is to never, ever post anything on the intertubes, including to one's bank (perhaps especially to one's bank) social media if one has had more than three drinks. Maybe in the case of Twitter, two drinks.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Sorry about the bad cut'n'paste non-sentence there, but I think the meaning is clear.

Ann ODyne said...

everyone laments the passing of PLF, and Dr Sandy McCall-S is wonderful, but not as wonderful at Twitting as:
I've decided to retweet all of Dickens
Twitter over capacity! Couldn’t Tweet for 30 minutes. Forced to tell doorman that I had Cream of Wheat for breakfast. Not the same.
shift key broken period what comma what am I parenthetical thank you auto-correct end parenthetical going to do question mark

from his first week:
#Did you know it’s possible to Tweet a concise, grammatical, correctly punctuated sentence that is exactly one hundred forty characters long?

I enjoy being on Twtr during a good @qanda edition, and reading the no-restraint comments on proceedings by @leslie cannold and @godwingrech and their kind.

During the April Royal Wedding telecast the @jennyeclair comments on the guests were hilarious.
Twtr is better for reading than for actual twting.

Mindy said...

I like it because it is constantly updating, unlike blogs and my FB page which can be slow. There is generally someone to read and chat to on Twitter and lots of different things going on. It's like being in the middle of a dozen different conversations at once, but at your leisure. I also like that people say "hey I liked this" and pass it on.

Link said...

It's a bit discombobulating, but very entertaining. I like that the 140 characters are actually, (mostly) in the otherwise very famous person's language.

And it's said, Twitter is for 'following' people you like and admire who are not your friends and facebook is for those who are your 'friends' but who you may not . . . . .etc.

Nigel Featherstone said...

Damn it, the Tweet from Alexander McCall Smith almost makes me want to join the throng on Twitter. Almost.

Anonymous said...

Twitter is good for lost cat alerts.
Sophie Cunninghams cat ---

19th Sept has been chased away by Fitzroy neighbours dog. any local readers pls help -

Our cat Wilson has gone missing,last seen in John St, Fitzroy a/b 1 pm yesterday.May be injured.

Please RT.
51 minutes ago

x x annie o'd

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Nigel: if you like that, how about these:'Most beautiful name? River Phoenix is hard to beat. For a dog: Rover Phoenix' or 'Walking back from monastery, we discuss the lost library of Iona. Charming myth. Did Vikings take the books? If so, massive library fines.'

You could identify him blindfold as the author of these, I reckon.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Ms O'Dyne, tx for missing feline alert. Would post on FB but I think all my Melbourne FB friends are Sophie's too.