a conversation with twitter and the new yorker on the future of fiction
i went to this today.
it started out with a 20-minute presentation by andrew fitzerald, “twitter’s head of editorial programming and representative to the publishing industry,” in which he more or less sang twitter’s praises as a platform for story-telling. the title was “twitter is for story-telling,” and, despite being rather sceptical (and still being sceptical), i did enjoy his presentation, and i do think that it’s cool how people are using twitter and how it is being used in creative ways. he had three main points about twitter — that twitter:
- is the ultimate creative canvas
- allows you tell stories in partnership with your audience
- offers a return to real-time programming
it was no surprise that twitter works closely with television, and i do think it’s interesting how twitter is bringing people back to “real-time programming” instead of dvr-ing. of course, i don’t know the actual numbers behind any of this; i’m just going off what he said during his presentation.
twitter will be holding their first “twitter fiction festival” later this month (more info here).
anyway, the reason i went to this event was that it was a two-part event — a presentation and a discussion — and the other half of the discussion was deborah treisman, specifically talking about black box, the jennifer egan short story that the new yorker “serialized” via twitter in may of this year before publishing it in its entirety in the magazine. (confession: i still have yet to read it.)
(personally, i just find it interesting to listen to deborah treisman; she’s a good, albeit somewhat detached, speaker; and, yes, on a personal level, part of that stems from the fact that she’s the fiction editor of the new yorker — but how awesome is that, too, to be the first woman fiction editor since the department was launched by a woman in 1925 (1925!!!) and to be the youngest person to take the job ever.)
jennifer egan wrote black box for twitter (apparently, jennifer egan created a twitter account some time ago, but it was soon hacked by someone selling juices, and egan isn’t an active twitter user) and sent it to deborah treisman, and i believe the new yorker fiction twitter account was relevantly young (or new) when they were prepping black box. they tried to find an automator that would generate the tweets, 2 per minute, every night for 10 nights, but, in the end, they decided that they would release one tweet per minute for an hour starting every night at 8 pm. an automator was found, and an intern was tasked with copy-pasting the tweets into the automator (which makes for 600 tweets), but, on the first night it was set to start, the automator glitched, which meant that, for 10 minutes, an intern had to copy-paste each tweet every minute. (she was apparently hired in the end.)
haha, and i just typed up a long story that’s really not that interesting … well, it is to me; i find this kind of minutiae amusing.
anyway, i’d say half of the time was andrew fitzgerald and deborah treisman talking and the other half was open to q&a. as usual, there were the weird/insipid questions, but most of the questions were actually pretty good. but, in the former group, there was one lady who asked about abbreviating on twitter (specifically for the twitter fiction festival) (also because andrew fitzgerald had said earlier that he personally doesn’t abbreviate on twitter), who asked if it’d be okay to drop a letter when letters repeat in words, saying that doing so wouldn’t make much of a difference, to which andrew fitzgerald quipped good-naturedly, “your balloons would become balons.”
the q&a closed with a question to deborah treisman about how often the new yorker publishes unsolicited manuscripts, which was … awesome ….. to hear …. (because it’s always different knowing something to be true and hearing it from the person who’s actually in charge). she said that it only happens a few times a year, that what usually happens is that an assistant will read a manuscript and like it and pass it on to an editor who, if s/he thinks there’s potential in the manuscript, will write a personal letter to the author and a relationship in formed in that way.
and, so, that was that, and the event was nice because it was interesting, and it was also good because it sealed up the rage i’ve been grappling over law school since wednesday morning. then i got jamaba juice, restocked on otona no amasa kitkat, bought more amazing japanese bread, also bought a pair of those new earbuds apple has, and came home and ate ramyeon and finished escape from camp 14! so it’s ended up being a pretty good day, and my new books will be arriving tomorrow, and i’ll be lunching with a friend, and thank God it’s friday!!!