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Wake Up! Twitter is Literature

Phil Baumann and I had a short discussion on Twitter about the simplicity of Twitter and its future changes. Baumann posted his thoughts,
Will Twitter Fly In A Walled Garden?, earlier this morning and inspired me to write my own thoughts from our tweets.

I stayed up until 6am this morning working on final evaluations for my English and Literature majors and answered questions like as “why do we study literature?”

I composed answers such as “we also study literature to transform ideas previously written with the life experiences of our own”  and  “[literature] moulds your identity as you start to define yourself by embracing or rejecting the ideas of others and transforming those ideas with the life experiences of your own.”

After completing this evaluation I had a most striking thought; Twitter is a library of the simplest living literature: “micro-literature.” 

Twitter is organic, published works. Every tweet is written thought and readers critique the tweet,  judge it’s authenticity, and add to the conversation by new written work that argues, supports, or evolves the idea.

I think we all can agree that tweets are literature, under the colloquial definition, as any printed works.

But I argue tweets can be a part of literature as literary productions as a whole; the body of writings produced in the young world of social media.

This literature is organic and fluid, composed of micro-literatures(tweets) that are constantly being evaluated and deleted or added into the Twitter canon of literature.

So, is the world ready to view micro-blogging as micro-literature, blogging as published works and  to recognize social media as mainstream?

I think some of us are.  For everyone else who thinks literature only comes in a pdf or rests bound in leather on a dusty shelf:  you’re missing out; literature has flowered and is bearing fruit in the social world.



  1. Twitter as literature – yes, of course it can be. Interesting commentary.

    In 140 characters you could have all of the ingredients of, say, flash fiction or flash non-fiction.

    There’s tons of “transforming of ideas” that transpires on Twitter (of course, there’s also a lot of BS).

    As we become increasingly sucked into the vortex which Moore’s Law is tugging us and we read less longer pieces, it’s not a bad proposition to impute a literary flavor on a tool like Twitter.

    Wow, a refreshing perspective. Thanks for the link and I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Keep it coming!


  2. Great post,

    I couldn’t use twitter for what it seems most everyone else uses it for–mainly as a networking and microblogging tool–and so decided to explore it as a literary medium.

    I’ve been writing what i believe is the first long work of literary fiction on twitter that’s composed and published fully in real-time. In other words, it’s fiction, but real world events and timing (as well as when I post) factor in to what I write. (you can follow it here: @dahveed_miller )

    Essentially it becomes a kind of gonzo novel-writing experience only, because of the form, you have to pause each line, cut down to just bare bones what you want to say, then blast. So it’s concise.

    I’m slowly gaining momentum. I think it’s hard for people to read up, but are getting used to it.

    Thanks for the forward-thinking perspective. We are definitely out there on the borderlands experimenting with this.


  3. Recently I too was thinking about the relationship between Twitter and literature but I ended up approaching it from the other direction and am currently exploring a piece of classic literature via current tech.

    The project I’m working on at the moment is a twitter called RealRaskolnikov based on the character from Crime and Punishment. It’s raised a lot of interesting ideas and questions which I’m trying to pull together in some form (especially given the interactive nature of Twitter) but I thought I should comment given we seem to have had a similar basic thought and pursued it in different directions (all tweets are twitterature vs literature interpretation in tweets)!

    Was interested to read your thoughts :)

  4. Agreed. Though there will definitely be challenges in finding useful ways to aggregate what we want to read/study/experience at that particular point in time, whilst still maintaining a sense of the flow of the meta-conversation … hashtags are a start but there must be a more holistic way of doing this too. Hmm.

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