If we accept that changes in technology beget new methods of narrativity, then it stands that it was only a (very, very small) matter of time before writers tried their hand at Twitter. There was a bit of a hubbub today about @danbaum twittering about his 2007 firing from the New Yorker, which reads as very round peg/square hole. The microblogging service only works as a stream of several users’ updates, which appear as one’s homepage. Rarely does anyone simply scroll through a user’s page, which Dan Baum seems to think people will do. I urge you to click on the link above and try to follow the story. You have to skim down until you find an appropriate starting point, and then read up. And since he’s updating in concentrated bursts, it’s likely you’ve been stopped in medias res. Which as Baum surely knows is not how one uses that particular rhetorical device.
On the other hand, @astro_mike used Twitter ingeniously by live-tweeting* his NASA shuttle launch.
Besides the easy metaphor in the vertiginous nature of the form mimicking the launch itself, there’s something truly exciting in imagining this astronaut’s updates appearing between the rest of your friends’ and colleagues’. His last update, like the best flash fiction, writes out invisible paragraphs in the reader’s mind. I will also concede this is an instance when the generic Twitter background is entirely appropriate.
- Some guy writes Homer’s Odyssey on Twitter (via boing boing).
- John Wray twittered a chapter of his acclaimed Lowboy.
*Do you ever get the feeling Biz Stone et al just want us to talk like babies?