08.01.2010 07:53 AM

Tweet heat

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?

14 Comments

  1. lichtik says:

    Come on Warren: who’s the journalist?

  2. Lipman says:

    I find myself using it more and more, but I never tweet anything. I enjoy reading quick snippets of news on Twitter, and following politicians on the site. I am beginning to dislike Facebook, but there are people on it with whom I don’t want to lose touch, so can’t delete….

  3. Ronald O'Dowd says:

    Warren,

    I don’t know. I’m on Twitter but have sent only one tweet since the beginning. I’m not big on rules-of-the-game condensed writing. Being long winded, I need much more room to make my point. But it does serve a useful purpose as a social media outlet.

    As long as we don’t have some wise sage twittering while on the throne… That would say a lot more about Canadian politics — not to mention journalism than yours truly really cares to know!

  4. Tim says:

    Twitter me this. Do you really think anyone who isn’t stupid or self important or flying in evah decreasing circles until they ??? cares about Twitter?
    In Straight From the Heart the last (so far) brilliant Canadian Prime Minister warns against this sort of thing. He does for sure.

  5. Aurelia says:

    Their bosses will never ban them, for one simple reason.

    They are all about clicks and ads and promoting their shows and articles, and those tweets are a metaphorical peek up the skirt.

    Everyone knows they are being watched. They WANT it. They need ROI. They want speculation, it leads to eyeballs.

    There is a reason I’m going to The White House Project this week at BlogHer, and a reason why I’m on twitter. You should be too.

  6. Aurelia says:

    Yeah, between friendfeed (which aggregates all social media feeds in one place) and apps like flipboard which illustrate those feeds beautifully, the chatter is about to increase substantially. Listening to what they tweet out loud and also to the subtext which is left untweeted, unbuzzed, unshared, matters.

  7. Andrew says:

    Twitter is simply an exercise in banality.

  8. Doug says:

    I am fairly active on Twitter, and my feed is a mix of my personal experiences, news related to my profession, and other stuff I find of interest. I am pretty sure I follow some of the journalists you are referring to, and when I compare how revealing they are in their feeds vs. how revealing I am willing to be in mine, I wonder how well they really understand the tool. I think about my tweets so that I don’t reveal information about my employer, colleagues or customers that might be used detrimentally. There is still plenty of room to be compelling within these constraints.

    I’m old by Internet standards, so there might be a generational difference between my perspective and some of the younger folks on Twitter.

  9. allegra fortissima says:

    Twitter? Cyberspace’s Forum Romanum on marshy grounds. Mostly brackish, occasionally saline, sometimes fresh.

  10. Namesake says:

    The more things change…

    Have we already all forgotten Ronnie Ray-Gun’s, “My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microphone_gaffe#cite_note-8

  11. Mr. Kruger says:

    I thought I would share with the group, as this seems like many of you would be intersted.

    http://politicalview.ca/2010/02/house-of-tweets-twitter-and-the-house-of-commons/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


*