AU MA Social Media

A class blog about social media.

cool story about Twitter…

Posted by joellecostello on May 18, 2011

hi all,

last week before class, I heard this story by Scott Simon on NPR’s Weekend Edition.  Being a Twitter novice, I thought it was pretty cool and appropriate for my first day of Social Media class, so I’d like to share.

I’ve posted the transcript below, but it’s worth listening to if you have the time.

See you Saturday!

< Inspiration In 140 Characters, Long Before Twitter

Copyright ©2011 National Public Radio®. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

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Heard on Weekend Edition Saturday

May 14, 2011 – SCOTT SIMON, host:

Newt Gingrich announced he’s running for president this week in a tweet: a short message on Twitter, where all messages can’t be longer than 140 characters. Mr. Gingrich included a link to a YouTube video.

Tweets and other social media platforms have become their own media. Jokes and gossip, to be sure, built a lot of Twitter followings. But reporters and politicians now use it because tweets can reach millions of people almost as quickly, and even more directly, than even radio or TV can.

I began to write a few cranky reporters remarks despairing over the idea that important ideas can be shrunk to 140 characters. You can imagine some of my outrage: would you want to cram the Ten Commandments or the Magna Carta into just 140 characters? But the more I wrote, the more I realized – I like tweets.

I like the clarity and discipline of 140 characters. When Paul Revere yelled, The British are coming, the British are coming, he was sending the tweets of his time – they were called shouts.

As George Pyle, an editorial writer for the Salt Lake Tribune, tweeted me yesterday: Government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth; from Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, even leaves 38 characters to spare.

Winston Churchill’s electrifying oratory armed the English language, and sent it into battle, as President Kennedy once said. Churchill’s speeches should still be savored for their eloquence as well as their resolve. But I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat, and we shall fight on the beaches; we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, are phrases that all by themselves put steel into human souls.

As Lincoln’s: With malice toward none, with charity for all, let us strive to bind up our nation’s wounds, builds bold compassion into a few words.

Politicians often use words to obscure, not clarify. They use scads of words to hide their ideas in plain sight, piling up phrases like mounds of popcorn, hoping to give everyone a little something to scoop up.

You wouldn’t want to compress Don Quixote, Macbeth, or a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. into 140 characters, but instead of having a debate in which a dozen presidential candidates rattle off rehearsed phrases to score points, maybe we should just say: please tell us in 140 characters what would you cut from a budget? That might be a little longer, but more revealing, than a bumper sticker.

(Soundbite of music)

SIMON: And you’re listening to NPR News.

Copyright © 2011 National Public Radio®. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to National Public Radio. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR’s prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.


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