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Twitter and the Wired Writer

Do you need Twitter?  Maybe.  A lot of you have recently signed on and now I’m wondering if Twitter is the new Facebook.  And more importantly, what can Twitter do for writers?

When I joined Facebook – was it only a couple of years ago? – few of the writers I knew were using it.  At first, I couldn’t really figure out what the big deal about Facebook was.  I knew I wanted to do some storytelling using its tools, but I didn’t get the whole social networking phenomenon…mostly because I didn’t have many friends.

Then suddenly it seemed like everyone joined at once.  Friend requests started rolling in.   And Fb became really useful to me.

Partly it was because I had regular access to writers I knew and liked and they had access to me.  I connected to a whole lot of writers I hadn’t known before and through their status updates and photos started to get to know quite a bit about them.  And not just writers, broadcast execs, producers, directors, actors…  It was like a daily dose of networking.

At the same time, the great Karen Walton made Face even more useful by moving Ink Canada onto it.  Suddenly there was a space for discussing craft and meeting other writers.

Then came the parties and events.  Facebook made it incredibly easy to run events that spread widely to writers, agents and executives, including Denis’ and Alex’s fantastic writer mafia parties, WWTV and lately the Ink events.  These helped to make us not just Facebook friends, but a living breathing in person community.

Back before writers started turning up on Face, I could never have guessed that a website would do so much for writers.

(I should mention that scribosphere has been a vital part of this process.  There are so many screenwriting bloggers out there doing fantastic work that helps to build a sense of a writing community.)

Now writers are starting to turn up on Twitter.  There have been a few of us for a while (but Robbo and I are the most verbose).  But in the last couple of weeks there’s been an influx… and when Ink and heywriterboy turn up, you know the party’s starting.

What are writers going to do on Twitter?  I’ve done a couple of things:

I did a whole lot of Story2.OH on Twitter.  You can still find Ali and Simon there (unlike on Facebook), although they aren’t active at the moment.

I’ve Twittered my notes during quite a few conferences including three NextMedia events, ICE, the Banff television festival and AdTech New York.   I also twittered the Geminis.

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Once, when I was stuck in an airport, I sent out an SOS and my twitter friends suggested lots of websites I could go to watch streamed TV shows and movies.

But mostly, I use Twitter to lament my inability to cook.

Doesn’t that sound like something you need more of in your life?

I can’t say why you should jump onto Twitter and start using it wildly. Back in the day, I didn’t know why you needed a Facebook account.  But you did and you made it into something pretty cool.  And I suspect the same thing’s gonna happen with Twitter.  If you go start using it, you’ll turn it into a writer place in ways I can’t imagine right now.  I just ask one small favour, don’t forget to follow jill380!

NOTE: For more on Twitter, check out Rob’s post on the Twitter HoHoTo event.

4 Comments

  1. Robbo wrote:

    Yeah, Jill!

    I started on Twitter because of Fred and Ze Frank – that whole “Colour Wars” summer camp game / social experiement that Ze Frank ran a while back. He’s notorious for herding the mice of the interwebs (that would be us) into new territory with the express purpose of simply “playing” – and then he frickin’ just moves on – leaving the rest of us lab rats to floundr about and wonder what the fuck we’re supposed to do in this strange terrain now.

    My first response to to Twitter – when it emerged on my radar – was: “Oh give me a fucking break, like I need yet another online waste of time. No thank you very fucking much.” – And that was that.

    Until I stuck my head through the surface of that glass darkly and saw what law on the other side.

    There are an amazing range of things happening within Twitter – and an ever greater number of possibilities left unplundered. Writers in the Twitterverse? Damn straight! There are (including myself) a number of people attempting to craft a new form of narrative that lives exclusively within the limited range of the 140 character paragraph.

    Yes, you and I are guilty (more than others) of being excessively verbose – eschewing the over-use of “u” and “r” and “4″ and the myriad of other abominations against the “proper” use of the English language. I take heart whenever I see the posts from @stephenfry where he embraces enthusiastically the inherent textual limitations of the form and still manages to craft expressive and inspiring bon mots that fit the form and convey precisely what he seeks to evoke.

    It has, in fact, become a matter of pride amongst the writers within Twitter (or those similarly manically obsessed) to be able to “perform” within the constraints of real time and deliver linguistic and narrative gems that neither exceed nor rest within the allowable 140 characters but which finish, fully complete and fully justified at EXACTLY 140 characters.

    It ain’t no sonnet.

    But it’s a cool cultural invention that can (and should) be played with.

    Everyone should jump into the pool. The water’s fine.

    cheers

    Tuesday, December 16, 2008 at 7:34 pm | Permalink
  2. admin wrote:

    Try saying that in 140 characters!

    But it’s true, you and I love to play with form and that’s a big part of Twitter. And then there’s the listening in to the ongoing worldwide conversation.

    And the fact that it’s a “heard-it-here-first” place. A lot of stories are getting broken by the Twitterverse.

    Tuesday, December 16, 2008 at 8:12 pm | Permalink
  3. J wrote:

    I like the idea of reading what other people write, but I can’t imagine my life at the moment being very “update” worthy…

    “Shoveled some snow today.”
    “It snowed again. Slipped on some ice.”
    “…I hate NH”

    Thursday, December 18, 2008 at 7:15 am | Permalink
  4. Robbo wrote:

    At the risk of creating a Twitter ouroboros:

    http://www.millsworks.net/blog/2008/12/18/twitter-ouroboros/

    Cheers.

    Thursday, December 18, 2008 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

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