It’s too soon to tell whether Twitter will break on through to the mainstream side; it has long since reached critical mass in the tech community, but the politico adoption rate remains low, and the entertainment ’sphere barely knows it exists. Blogging took this path to becoming a household word, so it seems reasonable to assume it might happen that way again with microblogging.
When he first signed up in July, his tweets (as messages sent through Twitter are called) merely answered the ubiquitous question hovering above the input space:
What are you doing?
This is what he was doing:
Hanging out with Ted! 07:54 PM July 14, 2007 from web
Participating in Live Earth today — Help spread the word. 08:45 AM July 07, 2007 from web
watching movies with my son Ted! 07:48 PM July 04, 2007 from web
He dutifully answered a few times, and then like most political types who have tried, merely set it aside, gave up entirely or just didn’t get it.
Here are two basic points about using Twitter: One, your best tweets will not come while sitting at a desk — in order to be interesting to others, you have to be doing something, which means getting out of doors, and this tends to mean sending text messages from your cell phone to Twitter. Two, sometimes you should just ignore the inquest about your current activities and just use Twitter to say something.
As for Trippi, his November Twittering has been done almost exclusively via SMS. And he most certainly is much busier now than he was in July, Noam Scheiber detailed last week. Trippi joined the Edwards campaign as a mere add-on adviser in April, but in recent months he has apparently taken a lead strategic role. (For what it’s worth, John Edwards himself has been on Twitter since January — Matt Gross’ handiwork, I pesume.)
This recent burst of Trippi tweets are both a glimpse inside the manic campaign schedule and a glimpse inside the frazzled psyche of its owner. They’re on the edge. In the moment. They don’t appear calculated, are not especially guarded, and sometimes they make no sense at all. This is, after all, the man who nearly went blind due to low blood sugar on the trail in 2003, and whose tearful exit from Burlington was broadcast live on national cable news.
A few tweets offer a keyhole view of the campaign:
up late working on a youtube video for John Edwards that will be released later today. Released our first Iowa ad earlier today. 01:32 AM November 02, 2007 from txt
Just finished another day in iowa. This time I really do know I won’t be doing this again. But Edwards was good all day 02:06 AM November 05
Others detail the life of Trippi:
Exhausted but still going. Actually went out and played pinball til 1am with a NY Times reporter last night in Iowa City. Had a lot of f … … 03:13 PM November 05, 2007 from txt
Off to Cedar Rapids for Edwards. Its my 10th wedding anniversary. I am so screwed 10:55 AM November 08, 2007 from txt
And still others… who knows?
price today 03:13 PM November 05, 2007 from txt
Stars 08:55 PM November 05, 2007 from txt
It almost dares you to ponder what he was thinking at the time. For the record, my guesses: Staring out a train window at night, standing in the grocery checkout line watching the total rise. Some people would call this bad Twittering, certainly for its incomprehensibility, but I disagree — this is more interesting than using it as a distribution list or RSS feed receptacle (perfectly legitimate uses, by the way).
Of course, there’s no reason he couldn’t drop it again just as quickly. An application like Twitter, which asks so little, is also easily forgotten. Twitter participation can be streaky, more so than blogs. Unless and until it develops into a full-blown next-generation instant messenger (my prediction) the site will remain erratic and insular. On the other hand, that’s why some of us pay attention in the first place.
P.S. Trippi isn’t the only person famous-within-his-respective-field to start tweeting again this month. Only Thursday, widely-heard tech podcaster Leo Laporte finally ran up the white flag:
I surrender Twitter. You win.
Laporte abandoned Twitter under entirely different circumstances. He ditched it for competing microblogging service Jaiku in April, citing fears of brand confusion. The flagship of Laporte’s podcast fleet is christened This Week in Tech, or TWiT for short. I assume he’ll explain in the next installment. Maybe there is hope yet that he will relent on the term podcasts, which he gave up for “netcasts,” which isn’t catching, and which I felt compelled to throw scare quotes around.
P.P.S. Aren’t you glad this post wasn’t actually about Second Life?
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