With Twitter — No Time for Books?

I finished an overall enjoyable five-mile run at 5 a.m. this morning. Came home and did the usual: took a shower, ate a bowl of cold cereal, skimmed the dead-tree edition of the Akron Beacon Journal, walked the dog — and then headed directly to the computer to scan TweetDeck. Good morning, world!

Well, not quite. But good morning to my little world at least.

Most who read my blog posts are no doubt familiar with Twitter — even if you are not actively involved. And I’ll admit it. A year or so ago when I first learned about Twitter I thought it was a worthless time suck. Now I’ll admit that I can see some value from the standpoint of news, making connections with people who you would never “meet” otherwise, following conversations and other trends and so on. But it’s still a time suck.

I spend a lot of time these days looking at Twitter. And I expect I’m not alone. It’s engaging. It’s fun. You don’t have to exert significant energy or brain power to write or read something. And arguably it’s a way to communicate with folks — at least within your own little world.

And maybe communicating more via social media — Twitter, Facebook and so on — is the future.

Jessica E. Vascellaro addressed this yesterday in an article on WSJ.com, “Why Email No Longer Rules…” Here’s an excerpt:

Email has had a good run as king of communications. But its reign is over.

In its place, a new generation of services is starting to take hold—services like Twitter and Facebook and countless others vying for a piece of the new world. And just as email did more than a decade ago, this shift promises to profoundly rewrite the way we communicate—in ways we can only begin to imagine.

We all still use email, of course. But email was better suited to the way we used to use the Internet—logging off and on, checking our messages in bursts. Now, we are always connected, whether we are sitting at a desk or on a mobile phone. The always-on connection, in turn, has created a host of new ways to communicate that are much faster than email, and more fun.

Faster — and more fun. No doubt. But effective as a way to communicate with each other? Well, see.

I know this is generational — but I still like real — not virtual — relationships. I enjoy picking up the phone and actually talking to people — especially when I am doing research to write an article or speech. And I don’t particularly like e-mail. E-mail messages tend to be curt, often rude, and hey, most people can’t express themselves clearly by means of the written word these days — if it means trying to connect a handful of characters or words into something that makes sense. Tweet — yes. Paragraph — no.

And I wonder what happens to books — and what I’ll call thoughtful reading — as we move more to faster and fun media for communication? I should be reading more books these days — fiction as well as nonfiction. But that takes time — and some effort. And shame on me for admitting this — but it’s easier to fill the time by scanning the available blogs and following the bouncing Tweets.

So I have to admit that I have great admiration for Nina Sankovitch. She started almost a year ago to read a book a day — every day for a full year.

Here’s her story, written by Peter Applebome in the NYT, “A Quest to Read a Book a Day for 365 Days, Just for Fun.”

Wonder if Nina Sankovitch spends a lot of time on Twitter?

Just askin’.


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