As only Lileks can:
A local columnist decided to go after Twitter today. (h/t Julio, via Twitter.) Now, we all love Joe around here, and his afternoon talk show is a ratings powerhouse that stands as the last remaining local example of how you create, build, and keep a radio audience without resorting to sports. No small feat, and detractors are advised to try it themselves before pitching rocks.
Now and again, though, even the zestiest observer of the scene can slip into onions-on-the-belt territory. I’ve come to expect two kinds of Twitter stories: one written for a mass audience by someone who gets the medium, like the Strib’s Randy Salas, and one written for people who still think the Morse Telegraph ruined the lovely art of hand-written letters.
You see any sealing-wax salesman downtown lately? ‘Course not. I remember when they’d come by with their cart, and you’d pat old dobbin on the nose while discussing Teapot Dome, and ‘ventually you’d get down to whether you wanted the new-fangled smokeless sealing wax or the old bituminous variety. I didn’t like the smokeless style – time was, a man felt his letter was done when the room was full of choking fumes, and when you wiped down the walls a few times a year with a real sponge, not one of those cellulite monstrosities, you felt like you were gathering up the spirits of all the letters you’d sent. Then Tony – that’s what we called him even though he had some other name – would offer to regrind your seal so you’d get a nice imprint, and he’d do it there on the spot. Kids today with their beep-beep-beep telegrams – what can you say in a medium that’s made up of long and short, and charges by the word? As the man said about the telegraph, “What hath God wrought?” Someone said that about the nuclear bomb, too.
Read the whole thing (because it really does describe Twitter and its utility better than I’ve ever seen it). I love the way he assumes that his readership will get the onion-on-the-belt reference. Not to mention five bees to a quarter.
I should note that one key point he makes that I hadn’t considered is that Twitter is a digital communications channel that hasn’t (yet) become spammified beyond recognition.