I'm So 2006 or Blogs are Bad Enough, But Twitter?
Where am I going with this? Where am I coming from?
These thoughts were inspired by the case of Jay Rosen, and his seeming abandonment of blogging for tweeting (what one does on Twitter). Jay is a brilliant media scholar and critic, a member of the NYU journalism faculty. He was also my Ph.D. dissertation advisor. I had been following his blog PressThink for some time, and had been surprised not to see any new posts after September 18. After all, this was the height of the Presidential election season, and surely the press was generating sufficient fodder for Jay's incisive analysis. But there was silence on PressThink. Was Jay away somewhere, perhaps Outer Mongolia, on a grant? Or worse, was he ill and unable to blog?
Yesterday, I was speaking with David Mindich, professor of journalism at St. Michael's College in Vermont, also a former student of Jay's. I mentioned that I was surprised that Jay hadn't blogged in close to two months.
"Do you know why he's not blogging?" David asked.
"He's been on Twitter." David went on to explain that Jay had been prodigiously tweeting these 140-character-maximum messages to a network of similarly press-obsessed tweeters, or twitterers, or whatever one calls them. Jay has over 2,000 followers of his tweets--that's the official term, "followers." The last thing I'd want is "followers." Readers, yes. Anyway, Jay apparently likes the fast pace and immediacy of Twitter, but what he's jettisoned is the essay, where thought is given form.
Call me old-fashioned, but I'll take essays over brain farts any day.
Twitter is, no doubt, a brilliant application, a tool for mass, public instant messaging. But I hope it doesn't seduce too many writers away from, dare I say, writing. While the minimalist in me does see possibilities in the tweet as a new literary form, I'll probably just stick with my usual 200 to 500-word behemoths.