Are “tweetstorms” a new form of publishing?

Fred Wilson has just published a #tweetstorm about #tweetstorms. It’s my view that in order for a new media concept to “become a thing”, someone needs to complete The Strange Loop — discussing the concept using the concept.

Strange Loop

Listicles became a thing for me when the NYTimes made one about BuzzFeed, 15 Crazy Facts About BuzzFeed That Will Blow Your Mind. GIFs became a thing when Clickhole wrote the hilarious satire article, 16 Incredible GIFs We Would Make If We Knew How.

Fred Wilson’s #tweetstorm isn’t quite as meta or funny, but it’s clear it’s now a thing, too.

For the uninitiated, let me define a tweetstorm. It is a hybrid form of tweeting and blogging. The way it works is that the Twitter user makes a series of related tweets, all at once, typically numbered and organized into a single conversation. Some of the web’s most popular tweetstorms to date have come from Venture Capitalists, notably @balajis and @pmarca. For example, here’s a recent one about a study on the relationship between VC diversity and investment success.

Here are Fred Wilson’s thoughts on this emerging medium:

1/ The thing that’s interesting about #tweetstorms is that they turn Twitter into a blogging platform with several unique characteristics— [link]

2/ Instead of prose the posts are bursts of unique thoughts in sequence— [link]

3/ And each thought has its own comment thread—[link]

4/ Like @tumblr but few other traditional blogging platforms, Twitter comes w/ a built in follow model which insures your posts will be read — [link]

5/ But possibly the most interesting & unique aspect of #Tweetstorms is you are posting in real time and the reader experience is real time — [link]

6/ Which creates this anticipatory reading experience that is unlike anything I’ve experienced in online publishing — [link]

7/ Like @replies and #hashtahgs, #tweetstorms are emergent behavior created by users (hattip to @pmarca ) — [link]

9/ If #teeetstorms were more discoverable, consumable & permanent, @twitter would have an entirely new product and mkt oppty that is native—[link]

10/ EOTS (end of #tweetstorm)—[link]

Like every new media thing, the beginning is often messy. These #tweetstorms are not editable, so Wilson is missing a “#8″ tweet and has a few spelling/grammar errors. And he made a rookie mistake: he didn’t make each tweet a reply to prior tweets, thus making the entire tweetstorm less discoverable in a single place. That’s part of the point of this article: to make it easier to see his thoughts as a single thread.

But, Wilson is right about the novel aspects of this publishing form. Readers can follow the writing process in real-time, which creates an anticipatory reading experience. The short-burst posting form is highly shareable; every thought is an edited nugget and includes a permalink complete with a dedicated discussion thread. Finally, being native to a social network (Twitter), these posts have built-in audience that guarantees it will be seen by someone — unlike self-hosted long form blogging.

How might journalists learn from this form? How might the web be changed by it?

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