Confessions of a not-so-live live-tweeter

These are the confessions of a live tweeter who ... is not tweeting live. There, I’ve said it.

This evening I’m due to attend a big event from which I’m supposed to tweet events as they happen. And so I will. Except the content of the tweets has - largely - been written in advance. It’s all being written by me, you understand. I’m pre-writing because there’s a lot of information (names, organisations, links) to pack into the tweets and not much time to get them done.

Fair enough? I think so, though it may seem like cheating to some. I’d contend that this is very different to pre-scheduled tweets, which can of course go horribly wrong (the LiveNation / Radiohead Toronto concert tragedy is a particularly unfortunate example). It will still be me tweeting my own stuff as events unfold. It’s just that I already know what is going to unfold - it’s an awards ceremony (for human rights journalism) and I know who's getting the awards - and I can get on top of the tweeting this way.

So no, prepping the tweets is not the same as pre-loading them and letting the timer send them out. But somehow I sense I’m still in breach of some unwritten rule about modern social conduct and Twitter use. We've been schooled to think of Twitter as the ultimate in comms spontaneity (“What are you doing right now?”) and a lot of modern marketing language is also based on immediacy (“Live in the moment” etc).

Hmm. Apart from the fact that 140-character knee-jerkism has already been the downfall of numerous people in the public eye, I’d counter this “just do it/do it now” tendency with a call to ... deferment. There’s absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t pause, reflect, draft, re-draft, pre-write and re-write. Tweets included.

Well, this is my confession. It’s not quite up there with the confessions of St Augustine or Rousseau. But even these and other giants of classical penmanship might have found 21st-century comms etiquette a tricky subject.

Staying with the classics, my current bedtime reading, believe it or not, is Thomas de Quincey’s Confessions Of An English Opium Eater. From my Twitter account I’ve already tweeted a few choice bits of this (ahem) highly addictive work, but live-tweeting an entire book is possibly a Twitter challenge too far. I’ve just read this memorable passage though, so in a spirit of live-tweeting I’ll share it:

I had been led in 1811 to look into loads of books and pamphlets on many branches of economy; and, at my desire, Margaret sometimes read to me chapters from more recent works, or parts of parliamentary debates. I saw that these were generally the very dregs and rinsings of the human intellect; and that any man of sound head, and practised in wielding logic with a scholastic adroitness, might take up the whole academy of modern economists, and throttle them between heaven and earth with his finger and thumb, or bray their fungus heads to powder with a lady’s fan.

Boom! I can’t promise you writing of this calibre, but my own fingers and thumbs will be tweeting from the Amnesty human rights media awards ceremony tonight. Feel free to follow the @NewsFromAmnesty tweets from 8pm, #AmnestyAwards2013.



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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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