Musings —08.01.2010 07:53 AM—
140 characters or less: I didn’t use to follow Twitter, now I do.
As this New York Times piece suggests, there’s something about Twitter – its culture, perhaps, or simply the ease of access – that compels certain people to use it all the time. And I mean all the time.
There’s a certain Ottawa journalist, for example, who Twitters everything he/she does. Everything. What he/she saw on the ride into work, what the view is like out his/her window – and, most notably, what he/she thinks about particular politicians or policies. And, sometimes, even how he/she plans to go after news stories.
As a consequence, political parties have started to closely follow what he/she Twitters. So, too, some of his/her equally-addicted Twitterers. “It’s an early-warning system for us,” said a partisan friend. “It gives us access to the slant they are taking, the stories they are pursuing, even the line-up of newscasts.”
In the good old days, politicos and publicists couldn’t often get that kind of intel. Now, thanks to Twitter, they can. Free of charge.
There have been plenty of news stories about politicians and their staff writing dumb things on Twitter. In campaigns to come, you’ll be seeing more and more of those stories. My species often say things that we shouldn’t.
But that Twitter axiom cuts both ways. Some journalists are perhaps revealing more than they should.
Editors and news bosses will eventually wise up, of course, and tell their writing staff to be a lot more careful – or perhaps even ban work-related Twittering altogether. In the meantime, the Twitter-ati are providing the rest of us with a fascinating (and maybe even useful) glimpse into a world that was heretofore off-limits.
Now, was that 140 characters or less?