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Is Twitter a New Genre?

posted: 6.2.09 by archived

by Kimberly White, Editor

This video is primarily for comic relief, but it begs the question—is Twitter a new genre? As this comedian makes clear, you can’t just stand on the street corner and shout out a tweet. And yet, that is what we do online when we use Twitter. So what are these digital shout-outs? Are they a new form of literature or are they junk? Dom Sagolla, who is writing a style guide for Twitter entitled “140 Characters,” has this to say about the new form:

There has emerged a new genre of literature: the short form. A combination of short and instant message services, status appliances, and social networks has created a new audience that is both voracious and deficit of attention.

What are your thoughts on this emerging genre and its (allegedly) voracious, attention-deficient audience?

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Kimberly White is a new media editor at Bedford/St. Martin’s. She works on multimedia tutorials, online games, book companion sites, e-books, and other digital learning tools. She is the editor of the “Bits” and “High School Bits” blogs.

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One Response to “Is Twitter a New Genre?”

  1. nick richardson Says:

    I’m all in favor of short burst writing, but I think I have to disagree with Dom when he writes that Twitter users are “voracious” (although I’m inclined to agree with his attention deficit assessment). It seems to me that Twitterers are primarily broadcasters, and as such: they’re not gorging… they’re purging — although, considering the addictive quality of Twitter, it might be most accurate to say they’re “voracious purgers”.

    I don’t know that I’m ready to comment on what exactly this means, except: Twitterers don’t seem to be simply broadcasting the day-to-day minutia of their lives – “answering,” as the Twitter main page advertises, “one simple question: what are you doing?” — they’re dissembling, crafting their best selves for public presentation. A good skill, and perhaps a literature — I can certainly see the pedagogical uses of this technology… but I wonder if this “public” actually exists or if the Twitter universe is mostly a bunch of people deafly shouting “LOOK AT ME” (as in the video above).