Emerging science and technology at 700 characters per day

Getting serious with Twitter

I’m gutted.  I thought that blogging was where it is at—the cutting edge of the “new media” wave transforming modern communication.  But I now discover that I’m at least four years behind the times—a veritable dinosaur in the world of “Web 2.0!”

Which is why I’m pushing myself out on a limb with a bold experiment in social network communication this week!

November’s edition of Wired Magazine ran a story entitled “Twitter, Flickr, Facebook Make Blogs Look So 2004.” And just in case you didn’t get the message about blogging from the title, the opening paragraph rammed it home:

“Thinking about launching your own blog? Here’s some friendly advice: Don’t. And if you’ve already got one, pull the plug.”

The blogosphere is being deluged by a stream of “paid bilge” according to the article… drowning out the voices of original writers.  But as one form of self-expression becomes overwhelmed, others emerge—and social networking sites like YouTube, Flickr and Facebook are where the action is these days.

Add to that list Twitter—a high profile “microblogging” site that is attracting a growing following.  According to Wired,

“Twitter … is to 2008 what the blogosphere was to 2004.”

However, Twitter limits posts to text messages no longer than 140 characters—including spaces.  Great for letting friends and family know you have just had your first coffee of the day.  But what if you want to impart some slightly more substantive words of wisdom?

I suspect that web-based social networking is in danger of flooding our lives with trivia, making it increasingly hard to assimilate and make use of complex information.  Yet if this is where people are exchanging ideas and “hanging out” these days, perhaps it’s time to experiment with using the “new” new media, rather than simply dismissing it.

And so for the next five days—starting Monday—I propose to roll up my sleeves and attempt some serious “twittering.”

Here’s the plan:  Between Monday December 8 and Friday December 12, I aim to submit five non-trivial posts a day to the 2020science Twitter feed that tackle emerging science and technology issues—that’s emerging science and technology at 700 characters per day!

You can follow my progress at http://twitter.com/2020science.  You can even sign up with Twitter and comment directly on the posts—as long as you keep within 140 characters!

I suspect I’m setting myself up for failure here.  But I did want to see whether it’s possible to convey something meaningful within the attention-span of today’s web-users.  Because—and this is probably important—as more and more people become part of the digital sound-bite community, effective communication will depend on working within the new media—despite its flaws.

Happy Twittering!

(Expressed in 2720 characters – including spaces)

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9 Responses to Emerging science and technology at 700 characters per day

  1. nanotürkiye says:

    I think you should join to Friendfeed also. It is much more efficient than Twitter.

    Twitter and blogs have different purposes. In Twitter you can share interesting links (which will not be appropiate in blog you know), in blogs you can share long and professional articles.

    I am following and waiting for your tweets!

    Welcome again to Web 2.0 world!

  2. Andrew Maynard says:

    I think you are right, but I’m both intrigued and disturbed by the idea that people might eschew more detailed blogs for shorter comments on sites like Twitter – hence the “experiment!”



  3. A more radical idea would be no more than one twitter a day. I think five posts a day would be at least four too many. I’d like to know the single most important or profound thing you came across today.As another info professional, I feel besieged by information and the blogs are making it worse. I’d most want to have a channel to your daily observation of “the one thing to know today” rather than, “I just came across this…” Of course a twitter is typically/often a top level observation with a link for those who want to drill down.

  4. Ruth Seeley says:

    Early tech adopters are, I find, easily bored and quick to move on to the next latest, greatest thing. There are only 3.3 million Twitter users (compared with 346 million blog readers worldwide).

    Having said that, those 3.3 million Twitter users tend to be highly influential precisely because they are early adopters. I’ll be following your Twitter experiment with interest. I’ve found Twitter a very practical shortcut for information about social media and helpful in navigating through what Mark Evans refers to as ‘the tsunami of digital information’ (I had merely been referring to it as a deluge). http://www.markevanstech.com/?s=tsunami&x=0&y=0

  5. Andrew Maynard says:

    Thanks Stanford – I’m still not sure how much information can be conveyed in a single 140 character tweet (unless it is simply a link to another story – something I want to avoid); hence the “indulgence” of five posts a day. But we will see…

  6. Ruth Seeley says:

    Oh and if you feel the need to cheat a bit, Big Tweet gives you 280 characters. After all, nanotechnology uses up 10% of a standard Twitter tweet on its own! http://bigtweet.com/

  7. Andrew Maynard says:

    Oh dear – temptation before I’ve even started!

  8. Alan says:

    I’ll be aslo following your Twitter experiment with interest, despite I dont’t really understand what your experiment is about 🙂

  9. […] days, 539 words and 3,447 characters later, the Twitter experiment is over. Did I succeed in communicating on emerging science and technology in 700 characters a day?  I’m […]

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