Monday 21 June 2010

News: Thoughts on Twitter

This is, in some ways, a long way of saying: follow us on twitter. We're @americanstudies. You can keep in touch with our blog posts, get some bonus content, and join the happy 100 who are already experiencing the fun. Failing that, you can keep your eye on the twitter box in the sidebar.

But it's also an excuse to highlight some of the ways in which twitter is increasingly making its mark on popular culture - indeed, on lives. This is the week, after all, when, in 140 characters or less, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff announced the execution of Ronnie Gardner and a South Korean man left a digital suicide note.

1. First, prolific and creative twitterer Roger Ebert (@ebertchicago) spent some time thinking about the unexpected ways in which the social network has impacted on his life. He writes:
I vowed I would never become a Twit. Now I have Tweeted nearly 10,000 Tweets. I said Twitter represented the end of civilization. It now represents a part of the civilization I live in [...] When you think about it, Twitter is something like a casual conversation among friends over dinner: Jokes, gossip, idle chatter, despair, philosophy, snark, outrage, news bulletins, mourning the dead, passing the time, remembering favorite lines, revealing yourself.
2. Second, Susan Orlean (@susanorlean), for the New Yorker (@newyorker), had a twitter experience which got her thinking about the future of book publishing:
I woke up thinking about Ron Hansen’s majestic, mournful book “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.” The book had gotten into my head the way some songs do, repeating its rhythms and tones over and over. On a whim, I mentioned it on Twitter, added the searchable hashtag #booksthatchangedmyworld, and sat still for a moment. About three seconds later, the flood began—dozens and dozens of other people started listing books that had changed their worlds.
3. Third - and this is old news, but still interesting - the Library of Congress (@librarycongress) announced in April that it was going to become the repository of twitter's entire archive - everything tweeted, ever. The New York Times notes, "They contain more observations, recorded at the same times by more people, than ever preserved in any medium before."

Still a twitter naysayer? Or convinced of its utility and interest? Either way, let us know - here, or if you prefer, @americanstudies.

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