In the era of printed news, the Times-Dispatch's article on Twitter would seem almost prescient; in the age of Web 2.0, it's interesting, but a bit late.
My favorite quote du jour – from Twitter user Dean Browell, which alerted me to the feature story by the TD's Melissa Ruggieri – sort of spells it out: "Ironically the only way I even knew the RTD had an article on local Twitterers was @rvabargains Tweet. Newspapers: Fad or Tool?"
At any rate, Ruggieri's piece is largely a well-deserved homage to Richmond's most adaptable newsman, the timeless Gene Cox of NBC12:
You might read the above musings and think they came from a random news story or, perhaps, one of those quote books found in someone's guest bathroom.
The online social networking service that specializes in brevity -- "tweets," or postings, cannot exceed 140 characters -- has about 18 million users in the United States.
Cox, whose amusing word spurts already have made him a Twitter hero to Richmonders who follow his feed (@genecoxnbc12), adopted the practice in January, after seeing some of his peers in the newsroom busily broadcasting succinct thoughts.
"I said, what the heck, I've got the time," Cox said with a chuckle. "I just kind of got hooked on it. I like short, snappy thoughts. There are some people who are very good at it, and some who are absolutely terrible. Some tweet all day long and have nothing to say."
The TD story also references another expert Twitter devotee – pop singer Elliott Yamin, who also has his very own key to the city.
The paper might have been better served spending the past week with the 23 Iraqi students and their 25 American peers who have been exploring the uses of social media – in journalism, in non-profit organizations and in daily life – with a handful of Richmonders that use the tools on a daily basis.
Now that's a fascinating new story, and one I'll post more about later.