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Short and Tweet: Attention Grabbers on Twitter Share Universal Wisdom

Copywriter Joshua Allen says of his Twitter presence: "I never want my tweets to rely on specific context. I want them to be something anyone could read and understand."
Copywriter Joshua Allen says of his Twitter presence: "I never want my tweets to rely on specific context. I want them to be something anyone could read and understand." (Washington Post Photo Illustration; Images From The Web)

But for users like him, and the hordes of would-be writers of Twitterature, there exist iPhone applications like Birdhouse. Birdhouse, invented by Californian Adam Lisagor (lonelysandwich on Twitter) is a new publishing tool that allows Twitterers to draft their tweets -- sometimes dozens of times over the course of weeks -- before making them public.

"Sometimes it's a matter of, this is the perfect idea but not the perfect phrasing," Lisagor says. Or maybe the phrase is 144 characters long, but if you sit on it for a few days, you'll come up with a shorter synonym.

Lisagor sounds a little nuts, but then again he's the one with 14,000 followers tuned to his every keystroke.

Of course, some might say that drafting a tweet defeats the purpose of a tweet -- if it's not spontaneous and it's not about something happening now, what's the point?

Which brings us to . . .

Make It . . . Art?

"Every new medium has the potential to be an art form," says Tim O'Reilly. Famous for helping coin the phrase "Web 2.0," O'Reilly is also the co-author of "The Twitter Book." "It just takes a while for [the medium] to adapt. When we first started making movies, we just pointed the camera at something, like a stage play. Why do we think that literature won't change, too?"

Twitter may have begun as a simple answer to a simple question, but as it has matured, good tweets have taken on specific characteristics. The best ones are intimacy wrapped in aphorisms topped off with self-deprecation and a dash of ambiguity. They capture individual moments in time, but allude to past and future. They are not memorable quotes so much as they're miniature stories.

O'Reilly suggests subscribing to California investor Chris Sacca's Twitter feed for a few days, promising laughter and at least a few "huh" moments.

Over the course of a recent week, Sacca (who initially invested in Twitter and tweets as sacca) sporadically narrated a trip to New York:

"Found 'em! The last two people who didn't know you can't bring metal through an airport metal detector. Glad we're past that now."

"The suit I'm wearing to my NY meeting looks like it got beat up last night, by a time machine."

Funny, clever, but is it literature?


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