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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)

Dinty Moore, an Ohio University professor and editor of literary journal Brevity, thinks it counts. When sent about a dozen anonymous tweets from various prominent Twitterers, and asked if any of them have the hallmarks of art, Moore selects two. Both belong to Sacca.

"They raise questions," Moore says. "They don't answer questions. You want to know more about these airport people." You want to know what that suit looks like. "Like poetry, very short prose pieces are all about compression. Every word and detail must do triple duty to set a mood." Sacca's tweets leave enough detail in for intrigue, letting metaphor and irony do the rest.

Nearly a half-million people agree with Moore's assessment: Sacca is one of the few non-famous people to regularly appear as one of the 100 most-followed Twitterers, according to Twitterholic.com, an independent site that ranks users by followers. He had 417,000 when research for this article began and gained 30,000 more in the course of a week.

Following Sacca's feed over the course of several days reveals more about his Twitter personality: impish, winking, often faux-clueless.

"It will be unsettling," he comments one day, "when the oldest woman in the world dies and then we don't have one anymore."

Some earnest literalist immediately writes to correct him, to inform him that the next oldest woman will simply get a promotion.

"Oh, good point," Sacca responds. "Well, definitely after that woman dies then. Then we're done. Right?"

The more one follows him, the less it feels like reading about a stranger's day and the more it feels like keeping up with a favorite satirical author. "In a medium like Twitter, the literary work isn't the tweet," O'Reilly says. "It's the persona that you're putting together."

Whether volumes of Twitterature will enter the literary canon is unknowable.

But if Mark Twain, Dorothy Parker and Oscar Wilde were still alive, they would probably all be on Twitter.


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