American in Spain

A Twitter Moment

September 8, 2008
A Twitter Moment

I had a Twitter Moment this afternoon. It was communication that would not have taken place on any other communication platform, but Twitter made it work. For several months now, I've been following the Bad Astronomy blog. I visited it several years go when investigating the prime "skeptic" websites (Bad Astronomy has long been the best source of reason against the cultural tragedy that was that stupid FOX TV special that started the moon landing hoax theories), and again when I was a regular listener to Astronomycast, where they would sometimes talk to Phil Plait.

Phil Plait is the guy that runs Bad Astronomy, and he's awesome. Think of your favorite science teacher, that one that was so enthusiastic about the subject that you kind of wondered if he should be in a straitjacket, but that his enthusiasm was so infectious that the entire class got excited about the material. That's Phil Plait, except that when he's not out energizing student bodies and attending geeky sci-fi conventions, can reach millions with YouTube and his blog. Most of the people on my blogroll will agree that I'm a pretty attentive RSS reader. When there's a new post, I'm there checking it out, usually leaving some silly comment. But when I get to Bad Astronomy, there are already two dozen comments and the blog entry already has 18 diggs. BA gets a lot of traffic. Phil almost never responds to his commenters because he's past the threshold where that is really feasible. And I have no doubt that email from random people like me would get much attention either. Phil is friends with geek celebs like John Hodgman, Penn Teller, Wil Wheaton, and Adam Savage. He's waaaay out of my league!

But that's where Twitter comes in.

As I've mentioned before, Twitter is to instant messaging what blogging is to email. But there's also a way to direct messages at a particular person, which doesn't really break the blogging analogy, I suppose. I can send a direct message to any Twitter user, an it will show up on their Twitter home screen. I knew that Phil was online at the time because I was reading a post of his that he had just "tweeted" (that's a Twitter verb) about. So I made a little complaint, as politely as I could, about his site that has been irking me ever since he moved his blog to Discover Magazine's website. And through the magic of the internet, and particularly the way that Twitter is set up, I got an instant response.

A Twitter Moment

I might not have explained myself very well, but that's pretty amazing to me.