Before reading Silver’s article on The Difference Between Thick and Thin Tweets, I thought of Twitter as a place to be sarcastic about my life in 140 characters or less. I would always add a witty punchline at the end, crafting a perfect joke into something short and without punctuation so it can follow a hashtag symbol. Outside from my friends, I only chose to follow the accounts of people who were funny and of newscasters as well as major news sources. I wanted my Twitter feed to only be filled with current events, from CNN to Rolling Stone Magazine, and jokes, from Adam Devine to Modern Seinfeld. I would read these tweets while on public transportation, figuring out what is going on in the world and simultaneously laughing at it.
My first thought to Silver’s definition of what constitutes a thick tweet was that these are the tweets I usually skim over. When something doesn’t grab my attention right away, I scroll. If something looks like it uses all 140 characters in a cluttered way, I scroll. This “Internet prowling”, as Rich describes in his article Literacy Debate: RU Really Reading?, is not meant to replace reading a book. I’m not expanding my creativity with a fiction novel or having an internal philosophical debate with Plato’s Symposium. I simply use Twitter as a way to quickly stay informed and temporarily entertained. I am taking advantage of the Internet’s ability to give to me different points of view and in a shorter amount of time than it would take me to get that information from a book.
I never realized that I could be the tweet someone clicks on in order to look at an interesting article included among the 140 characters. I was always doing the clicking. From one source to the next, I filled my transit time by jumping from one spot on the web to a different one. My tweets never included anything more than an “@” or a “#”. I didn’t link to the pages I was looking and reacting to. It’s not that I didn’t want to share what I was seeing with my twitter followers, it’s just that the thought never occurred to me to use Twitter in that way. Which is ridiculous, because now I see that Twitter in the perfect platform for posting a short reaction to an article you just read. I like how Zachary Sims, quoted in Rich’s article, describes the Internet as more of a conversation. Thick tweets are a perfect example of that. 140 characters opening up a discussion with your Twitter followers. 140 characters encouraging thought, debate, and reaction.
When do you catch yourself skimming over tweets? Whose tweets are they? What do they look like?
Did you find yourself using Twitter in a more conversational way after posting your thick tweets?
I also found an article from last year, on Twitter’s advertising blog, about how mobile devices are connected to the use of Twitter. This blog post breaks down mobile users into statistics and includes commentary for advertisers. This opens up a whole new discussion, but since we had been talking about “filter bubbles”, I figured it was relevant to see how marketing direction changes based on how users interact with these platforms.