Always New Mistakes

December 13, 2007

Twittories and the art of writing

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , — Alex Barrera @ 3:03 pm

Some days ago, our good friend Duncan Riley wrote about Twittories. It’s a website where many people collaborate to write a short story. The catch is that they have to do it with a twitter message. This means, each user can only submit one message with a maximum length of 140 characters. While reading the story I was reminded of a game we used to play when we were little, I know it has another name in English but can’t remember now. In Spanish it was called the broken phone. Anyway, although it’s a fun idea and a cool experiment, there is no way you can read a story written in that fashion. The central plot is so broken it’s impossible to follow. But I must say it got me thinking about the quality of most articles. Before creating my current startup, I developed a prototype for what was going to be my first try in the entrepreneur world. I designed a semantic algorithm that was able to detect and highlight structural problems in texts. In other words, a style corrector. While I was testing it, I realized how badly written where most news articles. One of the most common problem was the use of overly large phrases in terms of words. And when I talk about large phrases I’m talking about 50 or more words per phrase without a full stop. So, back to the twittories, I realized that, even though the plot might be messed up, the 140 characters restriction could be a great thumb rule for many writers (including myself of course). Maybe we could enforce some rules like that on our blog platforms. Now that TypePad is also open source, there is no excuse 😉

What are your thoughts about this?


1 Comment »

  1. I fail to see the point of exercises like TWITTERIES. I suppose if it occasionally resulted in ground-breaking, interesting prose, that’s one thing but, as you point out, the only thing that emerges is a hodgepodge, incoherent and futile. It drives the point home that creating art is a lonely, solitary experience
    and amateurs need not apply…

    Comment by Cliff Burns — December 13, 2007 @ 3:55 pm

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