The Twitter verdict

October 22, 2008 | 6 comments

I’m in.

Last week I listed my hesitations about getting a Twitter account. So far only #4 has been proven to be a legitimate concern. Here’s why I like it:

It’s the ultimate water well
Every time I log on to Twitter I think of that great discussion we had back in March about how the internet can function as a sort of village water well for those of us who are out of the workforce and live in areas where high mobility means a lack of cohesive communities (if you haven’t read the comments to that post and the follow-up, you really should — very interesting discussion).

I love being able to see what’s going on with everyone I follow on a minute-to-minute basis, and to “overhear” conversations by seeing people’s replies to one another. I’m surprised at how much I enjoy the updates about even the most mundane matters, like “Heading out to a dentist appointment, ” or “Gotta go start dinner — veggie lasagna tonight!” It’s interesting how much you can miss little things like that when you live in isolated circumstances. Back in my career days I would have coworkers stop by my cubicle and make passing comments about those same things — dentist appointments, what they’re cooking for dinner tonight — and I didn’t realize until now how much those little glimpses into other people’s lives were a source of comfort for me.

In the morning there’s a lot of buzz about how everyone slept last night (especially from moms of little ones!), in the afternoon there’s talk of appointments and lunches and naps, in the evening I get to see what other families are having for dinner, and at night people mention plans for tomorrow before logging off for the day. It’s not fascinating, but it’s oddly comforting.

It’s good writing practice
I love the challenge of trying to fit stories about my day into just 140 characters. This article makes a great point:

Twitter imposes a 140-character limit on posts (including spaces and punctuation). Nearly every user I’ve spoken to about using Twitter admits to constantly revising each post to squeeze it into 140 characters. The habit and skill of revising for brevity and clarity is one of the secrets to good writing.

Like professionally written and edited material, Twitter posts are harder on the writer and easier on the reader. And that’s why Twitter’s popularity is growing. It’s one of the few places online where people on the brink of information overload can get a break from long-winded blather and read something concise for a change.

I think it’s good practice for writers to use Twitter.

It doesn’t take much time
Even with revising posts to make them fit the 140-character limit, it doesn’t take that long to post. I probably spend an average of 30 seconds on each update. For the same reason, it doesn’t take long to scan updates. A quick glance through new posts takes just a minute — time well spent to see what’s going on with a bunch of other people today.

So those are my thoughts on Twitter. If you want to see what I’m doing right now, you can find me at


  1. Flexo

    Hmm. A new comment box.

    Anyway, the best secret to good writing is reading.

    The second best secret to good writing is using an old-fashioned typewriter, where you have to think entire sentences and paragraphs before you type so you don’t end up using an entire bottle of correction fluid on a single page. Or, stated another way, the greatest cause of bad writing today has been the invention of the word-processing computer.

    (wow, over 471 characters — I’m way over!)

  2. Shannon @ Rocks In My Dryer

    I TOLD YOU SO. (Ooops, did I say that out loud?)

  3. mrsdarwin

    I’m with Flexo. And I’ve got an old-school typewriter in case you want to borrow one.

  4. Chris Burgwald

    Jennifer, have you heard of Plurk? It’s like Twitter, but better. Or so say Fr. Roderick (Daily Breakfast podcast) and Jeff Miller (The Curt Jester).

    I’m just trying to figure this micro-blogging thing out…

  5. Liza's Eyeview

    I just joined last week 🙂

    I so not have an iphone so my updaes are slow but I enjoy reading the twits of the twitters I am following – so twit! 🙂

  6. Melissa Wiley

    I’ve enjoyed seeing you in my TweetDeck, Jen. Welcome to the flock! 🙂

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