I Am a Twit
Posted by: Keir Graff
-terer. And I’m not twitting you. You can follow my unvarnished, 140-character musings on life, the universe, and everything (related to books, that is) at http://twitter.com/Booklist_Keir. I still have mixed feelings about this stuff–I really do fear that we’re getting so glued to our social media that we are losing our ability to think, reflect, or read a book for an hour without checking to see what someone else has said. And the news cycle is moving so fast that it’s possible to miss a whole cycle if you happen to not log on for a weekend.
Case in point: I created my Twitter account last Friday, Tweeted once or twice, and went home for the weekend. (After, of course, the bird tweeted to mark the end of my shift.) As this feed will be a forum for my work-related thoughts–and as I am a soccer dad–I didn’t log on until yesterday morning when I returned to work. Astonishingly, Easter Sunday had turned into a veritable Twitstorm as the Twittosphere took Amazon to task for, well, supressing gay and lesbian themed books.
Early, unverified reports said there was some sort of policy behind it–or maybe a hacker did it. Amazon said it was a “glitch” (“Amazon Says Glitch to Blame for ‘New’ Adult Policy,” by Rachel Deahl and Jim Milliot, Publishers Weekly), then a “cataloguing error” (“Amazon Cites Cataloguing Error for Ranking Fiasco,” by JM, PW). Everyone agrees they’d do themselves a favor by acting with more transparency, but the general consensus now seems to be that–surprise!–Amazon wasn’t trying to alienate one portion of the book-buying public in order to placate another, as some surmised.
(Only a day after the online furor, the New York Times ran a capable summary by Motoko Rich, “Amazon Says Error Removed Listings.” In it, author Larry Kramer is quoted as saying “I don’t think for one second that this was a glitch,” adding, “We have to now keep a more diligent eye on Amazon and how they handle the world’s cultural heritage.”–apparently investing the retail giant with the kind of responsibility we usually reserve for libraries and museums.)
At any rate, some people are now accusing the Twitterers of hysteria. Some Twitterers are defending their role as kind of an early-warning system. I think they’re both right. If you like to be on the leading edge of the fray and in the thick of the argument, Twitter is a great way to get there. If you’d rather wait until the dust has settled–and, ultimately save yourself some time–you can wait a day or two and read the newspaper. There’s some news that hardly seems like news once all the facts are known.
But I’m looking forward to giving this a try. I plan to use the Twitter feed for quick hits, sharing passing thoughts and links that I don’t really have time to write up fully for Likely Stories. When I have the time and the ability to string two thoughts together, I’ll do a blog post.
Sure hope I have the stamina for this.