On why Twitter is like talk

This post by Seth Godin got me thinking about how tweeting is like talking in more ways than one. It is not just all the conversation that makes Twitter a talky place. It is also the completely trivial treatment we give to the act of tweeting that makes it so. When writing a blog post, most bloggers give some amount of thought to the mental associations relating to that particular piece of content. Things like what it is about, its structure, and various other contextual considerations. But when it comes to Twitter, we tweet first and think later. We shoot off little patches of text without giving context so much as a hoot (except when we add hashtags).

Why do we do this? I think it is all about the archive. When blogging, the thought that what we are writing is going into a permanent archive is always at the back of our heads. We know that the post will lie in the archive and will very likely be read and re-read many times in the coming years. We unconsciously start creating a work of lasting value. On Twitter, we are writing for the moment and we know that our words will stop being relevant the moment the reader's timeline refreshes. The archive is the least of our worries -- very few people go back and look up what they (or someone else) tweeted a week ago, forget months and years.