Is Twitter the New Long Form? – UPDATED

Is Twitter the New Long Form?

I follow several social justice leaders and activists on Twitter. I have noticed that they use Twitter in a way that is different from in the past.

In the past, tweets were singular events – a comment, a link, a share of some sort. A lot of people, myself included, still use Twitter that way.

The activists using Twitter now use it as a long-form platform. They pick a topic and tweet about it at length. Dozens of tweets in a day. If you stumble onto Twitter in the middle of one of these tweeters making a point, you must to go back, find your way to the beginning, find your way through the thoughts and watch to keep up. It often requires looking at whole conversations, checking for replies and questions, and then going back to the main thread.

Since most people are not watching Twitter 24/7, this approach requires some work for the people who may care about what is being tweeted, but it offers some advantages.

For the readers, a blog post would be easier to follow. All those thoughts could be put in one post, in the right order, and sent out. But easy isn’t the point. Advocacy is the point. Change is the point. Being heard right now is the point. Interaction is the point.

Twitter offers immediacy. There’s immediate feedback, immediate retweeting, immediate sharing of voices and information. Twitter is engaging. Many people can think and talk about an event or an idea in real time.

Twitter is forgiving of speed. Typos, awkward phrases, abbreviated thoughts are overlooked in the name of speed. There’s no need for polish.

Who would have imagined, when Twitter began, that it would become the long form discourse platform of choice for social change?

Update 8/26/15

Thanks to @redcrew, who just alerted me to Introducing the Tweetstorm. This article proposes a solution to the problems I outlined above for anyone trying to either write or follow a series of tweets on a particular topic. The developer, Daniel Rakhamimov, suggests a way to connect a series of tweets automatically through what he calls a Tweetstorm. His idea has many advantages to both readers and writers when Twitter is used as a longform medium. It’s a must read article and a great idea!


Useful Links: power in social media, ROI, web fonts

Social Media Breakfast Leverages Two Truckloads of Tyson Food Donation for Boston Food Bank! at Beth’s Blog is another story to add to the list of amazing things achieved with social media. In this case, blog comments were enough to raise 2 truckloads of food for a food bank in just 3.5 hours. How did we ever get anything accomplished before Twitter?

Web Standards: Where the ROI is from Molly writing at MIX online explains the business reasons for web standards. (MIX online has an interesting stylesheet, by the way.)

@font-face in IE: Making WEb Fonts Work is from Jon Tangerine. He says, “What we need to encourage designers and developers to use EOT today is a good tool to create EOT files in the first place. Perhaps even one hosted remotely, where we can buy a licence, convert the font to EOT, grab the same OTF subset for complaint browsers, and get the work using the typefaces we’ve always dreamed of. WEFT is not the tool right now to enable EOT usage. In fact it discourages it.”

Useful Links: the power of Twitter, Yahoo pipes

Twitter Agency–Crowd Sourced Consultancy. This started out as a bit of a joke and within mere minutes turned into a finished product with participants: The Twitter Agency. It’s a spoof, but it’s also more than a bit awe-inspiring when you consider what the power of Twitter can accomplish. How could you apply this amazing dynamic in other ways?

Tracking Yourself and Your Blog Brand Across the Online Social World I’ve been using Google’s custom blog searches to do something similar to this, but Yahoo Pipes Social Media Fire Hose sounds as if it might be even better. Have you tried it yet? I’m about to do that.

Summary of eHow articles for June


It’s that time of year when taking kids to the zoo or the swimming pool seems like the most important thing on my schedule. Makes it harder to keep up with blogging, but I did get some eHow articles written.

Useful Links

Mobile Social Networks: An Interview With Christine Perey is an interesting interview with an analyst and freelance associate of Informa Telecoms & Media.

What are Your Customers Tweeting About You? – Part 1 takes a business perspective, but the same tools could be used to track people Tweeting about educational institutions or instructors and classes. I know that some businesses are on to these techniques. I said something about Comcast on Twitter not long ago, and within minutes I received a Tweet from Comcast support. What if you used this idea to communicate with unhappy students who were complaining about your school or course, or just asking for help with an assignment or concept?