Is Twitter Living Biography?

Listening to Michael Palin being interviewed on Danny Baker’s radio programme on BBC Five Live this morning gave me some food for thought. He was talking about the publication of the latest volume of his diaries, and, in particular, about the process of sifting the content of his original hand-written diaries to decide what was suitable for publication.

The gist of what he was saying was that, while there is a lot of mundane trivia in the diaries, he felt it was important to include some human detail because it helps to give a rounded picture of the author.

This set me thinking. One of the things that people who have not “got” Twitter yet, is that it is “full of trivia”. They say things like “why do I want to know what you had for breakfast”. And my response to that, is that I use Twitter for serious purposes, but that some, at least, of the trivia, is what makes Twitter so engaging. I may get lots of useful information from my Twitter contacts, but, I also get to know them as people, because of the trivia which surrounds the useful information. Thus, Twitter allows me to feel that I am part of a team of people with similar objectives, many of whom I have never met face-to-face, but have a pretty good idea of what kind of people they are. And that also helps when I DO meet people face-to-face. It breaks down many of the initial social barriers which might otherwise be experienced on meeting someone for the first time.

So, this leads me to think that Twitter is living biography. No longer do we have to wait for the publication of someone’s diaries, through Twitter, we can experience their biography in real time as it happens.