Saturday, September 2, 2017

The case against tweetstorms

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Proposed: Tweet storms are a bad way to communicate complex ideas. Blog posts are much better and easier to discover in future.

As an example, Kevin Milligan is doing great analysis on tax reforms but reading his feed means some arguments appear backwards or disjointed.

On the other hand, only nerds like me still use RSS, so perhaps tweet storms are the best way to reach a large audience?

I'm also curious: Why have tweetstorms become more popular for writers than blog posts? Even when arguments are really long? Are tweetstorms easier to dash off on a smartphone? Less work to write? Is there less expectation for writing to be polished? Are they more appropriate for "ideas in progress"?

Are tweet storms more likely to go viral than blog posts? I doubt it. Lots of links to articles go viral on Twitter.

My biggest concern about tweetstorms is they're not easily discoverable. For example, someone Googling CCPC reforms won't find Milligan's tweets.

Twitter is also less popular by far than Facebook. Tweetstorms bypass Facebook's audience (blog posts, meanwhile, can be shared on Facebook and Twitter).

That said, if tweet storms are a way to work out ideas for a later blog post/article, I'm less concerned.

My bigger worry is when people with great ideas share them only in a tweetstorm and never crystallize their ideas in an article or blog post. I think that both limits the audience for their ideas and makes those ideas harder to digest.

NOTE: This blog post was adapted from a tweetstorm about tweetstorms. Given the topic, I thought it was appropriate to adapt it into a blog post as well. The text above is almost identical except for cleaning up the language a bit and adding a conclusion that the tweetstorm lacked. This is also an experiment with writing shorter, less polished, blog posts as I think one reason some writers default to tweetstorms is because of the expectation they place on themselves when writing blog posts rather than tweets: both in terms of length and quality. Blogs should be a safe place to dash off rough ideas.

Kevin Milligan, whose tweetstorms on tax policy inspired by tweetstorm, wrote a thoughtful tweetstorm of his own on why sometimes he tweets rather than writing longer pieces.

1 comment:

  1. Not only is Twitter a limited audience (numbers indicate that most of all the twitter accounts don't tweet), but they never link to outside pages/services, and this and other URL-reduction accounts will be lost, if they are not already lost and broken.

    Plain text, with limited HTML/XML is the best way, and archived as the national libraries of Australia, the U.S. Library of Congress, and the German DNB are attempting to do,