Twitter is a social communication platform in which users send and receive short, 140-character messages to and from their cell phones--and any networked computer. But could 140-character "tweets" be developed into something bigger? I was curious to find out.
Invited to give a keynote address remotely to a conference in Singapore on learning technology, I chose Twitter as my topic: 26 Ways of Looking at Twitter. Then I chose to write my presentation in the form of 52 tweets.
My line of thinking began with Wallace Stevens's poem "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird." I thought I would double-down on Stevens's poem. If he could poeticize 13 ways of looking at a mere bird, I could certainly come up with 26 ways of looking at software that allows humans to tweet. And from 26 to 52--the number of playing cards in a deck, minus the jokers--seemed to give ample padding.
What's the significance? On the one hand, it's a proof-of-concept: yes, you really can connect pithy, 140-character messages to create something longer. On the other hand, in the context of the liberal arts, the stunt showed something else. Namely, that Twitter lets a text become something others can rewrite. One technologist responded to my tweets by "storifying" them: bundling them together on the Storify.com platform and adding commentary.