A Twitter Moment

September 08, 2008 By: erik Category: Geeky, Internet, Musings, Science, Weird 291 views

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A Twitter MomentI 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.

  • Heh. Well, I looked over the blog again, and I see a solid 1 inch margin on the left from my browser edge. I’m using Firefox, so maybe the new version has bollixed it up.

    And yeah, reading comments is getting harder due to +volume and -time. But clicking a tweet is easy. 🙂

  • I bet Wheaton uses Firefox 3. 🙂

  • I too am surprised who will respond to you on Twitter — and furthermore, who’s Twittering to begin with 🙂

  • Wow, the CSS padding problem has even been fixed. My deed is done for the day.

  • I have gone from being a serious Twitter skeptic when it launched to a true believer, and the joy and usefulness I get from Twitter gets stronger all the time. Go, Twitter!

    (Boo, FailWhale!)

    And you just reminded me that I have to re-favorite Jane’s tweet from today, since Twitter doesn’t like such ‘requests’ made from my phone.

  • And thanks for including a link to Astronomy Cast in the post. You might be surprised how accessible we all are. Especially when you find a problem with our websites. 🙂