Explaining Twitter

As regular readers might know, I’m a big fan of Twitter. Perhaps it’s my lamentably shrinking free time or the general state of fatigue that makes it hard for me to coerce sentences together into a coherent post, but it’s a lot easier for me to prolifically twitter about all the profound and mundane (okay, pretty much just the mundane) moments in my life. More personal than the referential style of tumbleblogging but also too short to generally encourage overweening preciousness, Twitter hits that nice sweet spot of letting my friends know what I’m up to, but without it becoming a large chore to do it. Yeah, twitter is stupid, but it’s the right kind of stupid in the way in which it emphasizes that communication is the glue of community and the ease in which it allows everyone to take part. Microblogging is here to stay.

Last week, I gave a talk at the New York Times about Twitter. At the Times, we regularly have lunchtime talks on various educational topics and I thought it would be fun to do one on twitter and why I think it matters (_on a related note, it is interesting to see how various sections in the paper have covered the twitter phenomenon so far). As the developer behind the nytimes twitter feed, I also personally have an interest in seeing how twitter might mesh with more traditional forms of journalism and discuss what we could do further with the feeds, so it seemed like an excellent opportunity to talk about new technology at the Gray Lady. Here are the slides.

I was going for a more oblique visual style on the slides, so you might need to infer the context for a few of them, but the general thrust should be apparent. I’ve also had to redact a couple of slides where I made some suggestions about how the New York Times could expand and enhance its presence on twitter. There was nothing proprietary or wildly radical in them, but I wanted to just head off Gawker or other sites that might erroneously construe them as representing the Grand Official Vision for the New York Times on Twitter. There are some changes I would like to make to the feeds (visual branding of the icons is an obvious one), but my real goal here is to be part of a discussion at the paper and beyond about our place on Twitter and the modern Web at large. Let me know what you think. Thanks.

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  • Comments (1)
  1. Brilliant set of slides, Jacob, for which I have to say,”Thank you.”

    To be brutally honest, though, “zietgeist” strikes me as an awfully fancy word for what you must admit is mostly trivial, vacuous, banal.

    Haven’t sign up yet. Do I really want to spend my days reading and writing tweets? Especially when I don’t understand what most of them are saying?

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