Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Best of Twitter

om•pha•lo•skep•sis (äm´fә lō skep´sis) n. [omphalo- + Gr. Skepsis, a viewing: for base see SKEPTIC] 1. the act of contemplating one’s navel, as an exercise for mystics 2. Tweeting

Twitter has several uses, despite tweeters’ inclination toward navel-gazing.

For example, what’s better than Kanye West’s banal tweets? Kanye’s banal tweets paired with New Yorker cartoons.

Yes, these are authentic Kanye tweets paired with real New Yorker cartoons. Here’s a convenient Flickr gallery with them all.

Paul Sabourin, the mastermind behind #kanyenewyorkertweets, offered two explanations why the juxtaposition works during an interview with Urlesque.

“The pretentious explanation: Kanye's tweets are more or less raw id (unfiltered, portraying base emotions and simple thoughts) and New Yorker cartoons are almost entirely superego (carefully considered, 'quiet' presentation).

"The simple explanation: it just struck me as funny at 3 a.m. Luckily, unlike most 3 a.m. inspirations, this one actually seems to hold up.”

Some of my favorite Sabourin compositions play on slang, like this:

Or this:

Another Twitter use: Susan Orlean was tired of reading Magic Treehouse to her 5-and-a-half-year-old son, so she turned to her Twitter page for suggestions.

Orlean is one of the more successful authors on Twitter (in terms of both follower numbers and quality of Tweets.) She’s in that Colson-Whitehead, Neil-Gaiman, Stephen-Fry range.

She has more than 67,000 followers on Twitter and asked them what books they would recommend for her son, using the hashtag #booksthatchangekidsworlds. Her followers offered more than 250 suggestions, including my favorite book as a child, The Phantom Tollbooth.

Orlean later said on her blog, “What I have loved about reading through them is not just the great suggestions for my son but the shiver of pleasure I get each time I see a title that meant everything to me when I was a kid but that I haven’t thought about in years. I actually gasped when someone recommended Hailstones and Halibut Bones, by Mary O’Neil, a book I wore out twice when I was little but haven’t thought about in decades; I can’t wait to read it to my son, to see if it will change his world the way it changed mine.”

Carolyn Kellogg commented on the LA Times Book Blog, “Having someone like Susan Orlean on the Internet, blogging and tweeting about everything from her chickens (an unlaid egg led to lamaze-style ablutions) to books is a treat. It's like getting seated next to her on a plane on a day when she happens to be feeling chatty, or finding that she's in the office right next to you and wants to know what you think about donkeys.”

People post a lot of helpful links for writers on Twitter, but they also post a lot of other crap, too. I mean A LOT of worthless stuff you will never use.

Fortunately, Jane Friedman of The Writer’s Digest sifts through the stupid and provides the best tweets for writers each week.

Jason Lea,

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