I was tweeting the other day – you know, on Twitter…. What, you are not familiar with Twitter? How about Facebook? No? Does “the Internet” ring a bell? Okay, in case you’re still living in that cave in Northern Afghanistan (or are my elderly mother) and you’re still not familiar with Twitter, it’s this web site where you can tell the world what you’re doing – so long as you can do it in 140 characters or less. But, and this is key, your message must be of interest to absolutely NOBODY but yourself.
It is such an incredible improvement over previous ways of communicating online. Instead of having to pound out long, detailed emails, now you can post easy-to-skim “tweets” as Twitter posts are called. Oh sure, some people say that most tweets are just a complete narcissistic waste of time. But I could not disagree more. Heck, just this morning, I learned the following very timely and helpful information at my Twitter home page from lots of people, a couple of whom I think I might have actually heard of:
- Margy tweeted: chilling at Ted’s drinking beers with Don, King, and Craig. Good times. Hope Bernice doesn’t show up. Such a slut.
- Carrie: Made a tasty casserole for dinner! The secret is extra Tuna Helper.
- Marilyn: I’m not dancing because I have diarrhea.
- Scot: Off to the upper Haight to replace the tongue ring I broke on the plane. (I am not making this one up, I swear.)
- Mick: They are serving F11 in the snackateria! (I wonder if F11 is anything like Soylent Green.)
See how useful Twitter can be? Hard to imagine how we ever survived without it, I know. The great thing about Twitter is that because of its 140 character limit, it forces you to communicate with concise precision, like my buddy Scot did in the example above. No wasted chatter about how he broke his tongue ring on a plane or whether he is also going to buy a new bong while he is in Haight Ashbury. No, just the core “need-to-know” facts.
And not being known for my brevity, at first tweeting was a real challenge for me. Here are a couple of my very first unsuccessful tweets:
But I think I have, with practice, found out how to get to the point in 140 characters or less. Now I tweet all the time. Which got me to thinking (oh no, there he goes again – thinking – this can’t be good), what a wonderful learning tool Twitter could be for kids today. If your kids are like mine, they have roughly the attention span and metabolism of a Meercat on a diet of Mountain Dew and espresso shots. It’s no wonder the great classics bore them – they’re so full of… well, words.
So I was thinking, wouldn’t it be great if kids could read a condensed Twitterized version of the great speeches and important texts from history. Imagine savoring the classics in roughly the time it takes to burp. Just think how much more excited our kids would be to learn.
So I took the liberty of condensing some of the great speeches, historical treatises and literary classics into convenient tweet-size packages. Here is a small sampling of what could someday become Classic Tweets:
Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet: He loves her. She loves him. Parents just don’t understand. She fakes her death. He didn’t get the memo. He kills himself. She kills herself. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, blah blah blah… The end.
The Declaration of Independence & the US Constitution (they’re pretty much the same thing): King George is a jerk. We’re so done. We declare ourselves free. We hold these truths to be self-evident: All white males with property are equal. Oh yeah, WE’RE NUMBER ONE! Click here to check out our latest amendments.
Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech: 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation blacks are still not free. Wouldn’t it be great if they finally were? Gosh it’s hot in DC today. Anybody have a fan?
The Gettysburg Address: Four score and seven years ago we became a new country. This Civil War sucks. Let’s pull together, boys, and win one for equality – or at least for the Gipper.
Cicero’s famous oration in support of Julius Caesar in the Roman Senate (which originally went on for three hours): Aebuti impudentiae, quam tum in vi facienda cessit audaciae. Verum et illud considerati hominis esse putavit. Specto imago femina cum toga sexius, clickus ici
Neil Armstrong’s famous first words on the moon speech: That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind…. Hey Houston, check out this view! It‘s totally mind-blowing man. I can see Russia from here.
Churchill’s Blood, toil, tears, and sweat Speech Before Parliament: We’re in the middle of a mother of a fight. Hitler is one bad-ass dude. Gotta stop him. I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat, oh, and some really fine Cuban cigars – anybody?
Book of Genesis: In the beginning, God created light, dark, rocks, trees, dinosaurs, cows, pigs, birds and man – all in six days. Day seven: serious snooze time. Hey, don’t eat that apple. Men – they never listen. Okay, here comes the smiting.
I have proposed this idea to the good folks at Twitter and am waiting to hear back. I even have a name for this new product idea: “Twitter’s Speeches & Historically Important Texts” or “Shit Twits” for short.
Imagine how much funner learning would be if you read just a few tweets? Think about how quickly our kids could learn if we tossed out those boring 500-page textbooks and replaced them with Twitterized versions. With just a few short tweets, kids could learn about the Fall of Troy, Genghis Khan, World War II, and whether the Magna Carta was Magna-tized, not to mention the identity of Lindsay Lohan’s current rehab facility.
I myself have freed up eons of hours that I can now spend on more important tasks – like writing more tweets. Here is one I am working on now: “I totally think Parmesan Goldfish are way better than Cheez-its or Cheetos. Only losers eat Cheetos unless you’re talking about the crunchy Cheetos. They’re not bad.” This post was really long before I tweeterized it.
That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.
Send me a tweet with your thoughts at http://twitter.com/TimEJones or comment on this blog post.
© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2010 – 2011