My mouth is so much larger than my brain…about tweets.

Posted by on Wednesday July 29 2009

I owe a huge apology to the other members of the MCN Board.  We had a conference call yesterday and the topic under discussion was how to use twitter best in our upcoming annual conference.   Lots of good ideas were bandied about and I know that a huge number of my colleagues use twitter in a variety of interesting ways.   I confess twitter is not a terribly interesting tool or means of communication for me—but that is no reason for me to be dismissive of a tool that works well for others.  And so, I believe the comment I made to my fellow board members , that I am apologizing for, is that I find tweets “staggeringly shallow.”


I don’t find my colleagues who tweet staggeringly shallow—I find the tweets themselves are necessarily shallow because the character limitation means that those who tweet are almost invariably saying “I see this” or “Look at this” or “This is interesting” and they seldom get to the level of “I think this is important” or “I think this is insane” of “I think that you are an idiot Holly” because it’s not a good medium to do that.  Tweets provide me with the “what” but not the “why.”  You’ve connected with something—some  issue, some person, some philosophy, some book, some idea, some news article—and you ask me to share that same sense of fun, enlightenment, disgust, eureka but you are unable to communicate to me, except on a “staggeringly shallow” level why you’ve connected with the subject of your tweet.   

There are a number of my colleagues for whom I have immense respect and I follow their blogs, or their papers, or their presentations—because I need something more from them than pointers to information.  The very articulate and polarizing discussion between Nina Simon, Rob Stein and other members of the staff of the Indianapolis Museum of Art is an example of what I’m talking about (    For me it was infinitely more satisfying to follow the well-written arguments on both sides of this issue, than to follow a series of  tweets.  In addition, I wonder if a tweet would have been a more interesting way to find out tabout this issue than the very satisfying two hour breakfast I had with a colleague who originally  brought the discussion to my attention?  I don’t think so.

Once again, my apologies to those of you I have inadvertently offended.  I will defend your right to tweet, but I’m reminded of the fact that the Pied Piper of Hamlin had a lot of followers too.

Filed under: Random Musings

2 Responses to “My mouth is so much larger than my brain…about tweets.”

  1. Amalyah Keshet
    August 8th, 2009 08:38

    As a matter of fact, the thing is, well, …tweets are staggeringly shallow. Not the tweeters, as you point out — the tweets. Kind of like my kids’ chat messages (I had a peek once or twice): “Ha ha!” “Ha ha ha!” “You said it!” “Ha!” On and on for a staggeringly shallow infinity.

    Okay, not that bad, but unintelligible, uncontexted, and kind of like being hampered with Morse code. A step backwards in communication, surely. Either that, or I am just terminally verbose. In love with the languid sound of intelligible language.

    I once hastened to “follow” a very important conference via Twitter. It was astounding — couldn’t understand a thing. “Prof. Puffery just made the same point!” What point? “His next slide gave the full outline.” Which of course I can’t see. “Dr. Doolittle giving a good rebuttal.” Which is…? Frankly, it was ridiculous.

    In short, an excellent tool for preventing communication.

  2. Martin Greaney
    August 13th, 2009 09:40

    What you must remember with Twitter is that, although known as microblogging, it’s not a drop-in replacement for blogging. As the previous commenter mentioned, text messages are shallow, and out of context they are completely unintelligible. But the key is that it gives a window on the interests of the writer. So you follow the tweets to be pointed to things, and you also follow the full blogs and conference talks (which are signposted through Twitter no doubt!), and that’s where you get your depth from. You could almost see it as a less shallow version of RSS!

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