I never thought cutting my hair was a sign of the implosion of the American economy, until I read about it on Twitter.
The item is short, true, and was written a few seconds after the words left my mouth. I was sitting at my desk in City Hall making some idle conversation with a source when part of the talk went online.
Not that it was all that surprising. These days, if you don't share, chances are someone else will do the sharing for you.
I've been doing my best for a while now to get well into this spirit of full (or excess, depending on your taste) disclosure.
On Youtube, I’ve posted an interview with my mom, and more than once let some local politicos take over my camera and subject me to their questions. On Flickr, pictures from my vacation are interspersed with shots of Michael Bloomberg and David Paterson. On Facebook, “friends” I’ve met while covering their campaigns now know which high school I went to and how often I miss my favorite Wednesday night television show.
That was all before Twitter.
Now, rapid-fire Tweets have stripped away all bells and whistles from today’s multi-dimensional communication arts and put into everyone’s hands a haiku Uzi.
This Twittery new landscape on which New York politicos meet their online audiences is dramatically different from what existed just a couple of years ago, meaning that the online reporting world that followed Michael Bloomberg’s first re-election looks nothing like the one that will follow his second.
Dissemination of news is instantaneous. The gathering part is quicker too.
Take, as an example, me: Twitter helps me find what's floating out there, letting me aggregate RSS feeds into a cascade of, well, everything. Sometimes, it acts like a comments section detached from any particular web site or blog entry. Other times it acts like a quicker (and more public) form of email. I asked a New York Times employee, over Twitter, who else in his company uses the site. Minutes later, over Twitter, he sent me the list. (Thanks again.)
The PolitickerNY site automatically feeds stories to Twitter, using a formula most web sites do: the headline is the body of the lede are sucked into the body of the Tweet and then there’s a link to read more if you like. Additionally, I go on Twitter, using my own name, to write my own Tweets that let people know in the shortest possible terms what I have to offer.
A growing vanguard of local politicos and journalists seems to be warming to the possibilities of doing likewise. Earlier this month, Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum starting Twittering, making her the latest New York politico to enter the hasty new world of unfiltered, incremental communication with the public.
Here are a few more Twitterers:
Michael Bloomberg, mayor
Howard Wolfson, Bloomberg spokesman
Kevin Sheekey, Bloomberg aide
Bill Thompson, comptroller
Jeff Simmons, Thompson spokesman
Christine Quinn, Council speaker
Bill de Blasio, councilman
Eric Gioia, councilman
Eli Richlin, Gioia spokesman
The Working Families Party
Patrick LaForge, Times editor
Sewell Chan, Times reporter
Errol Louis, Daily News columnist
Alex Zablocki, public advocate candidate
KT McFarland, former Republican Senate candidate
Joseph Mercurio, consultant
Brooklyn Young Republicans
Andrew Hawkins, City Hall News reporter
John DeSio, Riverdale Review reporter
The New York City Council