Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Non-Fiction: Twitter Power by Joel Comm

I’ve been successfully avoiding Twitter since I first heard about it a couple of years ago. I’ve been busy with my blog and my Facebook and my life, I really didn’t think I needed to add yet another thing. My single encounter with Twitter confirmed this early assessment. I’m a journalist and a novelist: I have a track record for going long. Being scintillating in 140 characters or less just didn’t appeal. I mean, it’s one thing to be concise: I’m all for that. But then there’s silly. And that’s where in my mind I stuffed Twitter.

And then 2009 happened and it seemed that suddenly even old men who shouldn’t know how to program their mobile phones are using their crackberries to tweet. So I start telling myself: OK. I’ll play with this. Get it working for me. But, you know the drill, life just keeps getting in the way.

After a couple of very productive weeks of procrastinating in the Twitter department, I caught a break: not one but two review copies of Twitter Power (Wiley) showed up in the January offices. And multiple review copies from various sources is a sign: it’s one of the ways we can tell if a book is getting some push. And, clearly, Twitter Power was one of those.

To be honest, most often, a book like this? I would have assigned it. But considering my Twitterless state and the fact that it was something I’d been thinking about, I started on the book myself and, within 24 hours of beginning to read, I’d set up two Twitter accounts -- one for myself and one for January -- and had additionally and quite easily done some fairly complicated footwork.

I love it when life conspires. Had Twitter Power been published a year ago, it would have been a useful book and probably held its own in sales, but that’s about it. But because this is the Twitter moment and Joel Comm chose this one to show up with this blazingly lucid book, he’s a star. The book is a bestseller and Comm is leaving a path of new tweeters in his wake.

Luckily, there’s more than timing at play here: Twitter Power is a good book. Comm (can that possibly be his real name?) is a social networking master, but he also has the depth of knowledge and the spiritual calm to explain all this stuff in a rational, logical way. And, of course, the book is published by Wiley, who have been producing excellent geek books for just about as long as there have been geek books to produce.

Now, honestly? I personally still do not love Twitter. I had an instant affinity for Facebook when I joined a couple of years ago, but Twitter still strikes me as a bit empty. The “micro” part of “microblogging” still leaves me a little cold. And “thumbtyping” is never going to be any fun for me. Maybe these are conditions I’ll grow out of. Meanwhile, I’m there and doing it and Twitter Power brought me there effortlessly. It’s a well thought out, friendly and entirely easy to follow book and it sounds considerably more sensible than the upcoming Twitter Wit, “a book of Twitter’s wittiest messages, edited by Nick Douglas and coming out Fall 2009 from HarperCollins.” As John McCain surely knows by now, you don’t have to be witty to tweet.

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