Tweeting Literature- the Next Big Thing?

Tweeting Literature- The Next Big Thing?
During my summer internship at NBC Bay Area News, I wrote an article about Matt Stewart, a local author who published his first novel via 3,700 tweets on Twitter. Stewart claims to be the first author to publish a novel on Twitter, but after digging deeper I found that he is one of a few people who are using Twitter to publish literature.
In all honesty, when hearing Stewart brag about being a published author on Twitter I was not impressed. “Ok,” I thought, “so no one credible wanted to publish your book so you did it yourself. Is anyone actually going to read it?”
Well, Stewart’s novel The French Revolution may only have 1,023 followers on Twitter, but it turns out credible literary organizations are starting to use new media Web sites such as Twitter to publish literature as well.
According to a New York Times article, Electric Literature, a quarterly literary magazine is using new media to its advantage to “revitalize the short story in the age of the short attention span.” In addition to using Facebook for publicity, the magazine also publishes videos on Youtube and will begin having authors tweet out short stories on Twitter.
I suppose it is good that people are trying to maintain art and literature in a world of decreasing attention spans and the-world-at-your-fingertips-technology, but at what point is this too much? Is our society ever going to look back at the simple days when magazines and books were published on paper and miss it?


Alex said...

I don't think paper books and magazines will ever go out of style. There is something comforting and so easy about curling up on the couch with a book or magazine. Also, magazine and books can enhance themselves and appeal to consumers by providing more tangible features--such as pop-out pictures, glossy photos--that computer screens can't duplicate.


I like the questions you pose at the end of this post. But I don't think it's ever going to get to the point where we are looking back on "the simple days." I think that these links between new media and literature were a natural step. Like you sort of noted with Matt Stewart's mode of self-publishing, it is just taking advantage of niche markets- a segment of people who feel comfortable mixing new technology with old literary values. I don't think this style will ever be for everyone, but as fledgling writers, I think it's really good that more options such as this continue to open up and push the boundaries of media dissemination.

Greg Schimmel said...

I think this is a really cool and innovative idea, but I don't think books and magazines will ever be eliminated from our society. There is still something comforting to people about reading an old-fashioned book, and I don't think this will ever completely change. Much like the way journalists use Twitter, people may adapt to the new technology and include it in their routine but they won't complete abandon the traditional way of sharing and obtaining information.

Sophie Terbush said...

I think that if you are an author, Twittering short stories or maybe sections of a book that you're releasing soon would be good ways to create a following. But I really don't like the developing trend of people using the Internet and hand-held electronics to read literature. For example, the Amazon Kindle is a tablet that you can use to read books and newspapers online, but you have to pay-per-view which is worse than just buying a book once, and it's also bad for your eyesight to look at a computer or laptop screen for too long. I had to get glasses because my vision actually got worse due to how much time I spend looking at the computer, and I'm only supposed to wear them when I'm using my laptop. I think that reading books online and electronically sounds cool because it's new technology, but it's really doing more harm than good.

Jenna Shulman said...

All I can say about Matt Stewart is WOW! Your research and article bring up very interesting view points in the new era of journalism world. This past summer, I would always see the Amazon Kindle on the train on my way to my internship. I would constantly think to myself, "Is this what technology has become?" I find it really hard to believe that print copies of books are going to disappear. Nothing can replace having that fresh new stack of paper in your hand and being able to read it wherever you want. Who wants to deal with a computer screen? My vision has already decreased from surfing the web and doing homework every day. I could not imagine what it would be like if I tried to read a book for 5 straight hours. It makes me sad to see how tradition is disappearing. It also makes me sad to see how short people's attention spans are. Twitter should NOT be used for stories. They give you 140 characters for a reason !