Why Twitter? Why Now? Why Not?

I’m still processing conversations from the STS-129 Launch Tweet-Up at the Kennedy Space Center on Sunday and Monday. Because we spent launch day at the press site, I crossed paths with a number of veteran reporters and cameramen — yes, most were men.

They found it “amusing” — to say the least — that we wanted to host a group of “twits.” Ar Ar Ar Ar. Think loud belly laughs and shared nods. (A modern version of their reaction would be fist-bumps.) We prefer the word, tweeps, thank you.

Here’s one common question: “What can you possibly say in 140 characters?”

My answer: A few well chosen words speak volumes. What about:

I love you.

You’re fired.

Thank you.

You’re free to go.

I’m pregnant. (I’m not. Just so you know.)

Here are a few words I tweet often. Reality check on our industry. We’ve been reluctant to let others see us sweat. So. I like to remind the twitterverse:

Space is HARD! We make it look easy.

But noone can tweet it better than @Astro_Mike Massimino, who is eloquent in his 140 character essays on life in space.

@Astro_Mike's tweet from orbit

@Astro_Mike's tweet from orbit

My point is simply this: 140 characters, crafted thoughtfully, can be life-changing. We, in the government AND media, are wedded to our wordiness. (Just look at some of the titles on our business cards.) We ensure nothing is left open to interpretation. We want the “last word” to close out the argument.

Twitter invites a conversation. Free form. No boundaries.

Is free-flowing conversation a risk? Sure. Isn’t it always? But, I think we call that democracy. Right? Freedom of speech? Twitter simply makes it global. And how cool is that!

Follow the living, breathing NASA STS-129 Tweet-Up conversation.

BTW, you can help @Astro_Mike win TWEET of the YEAR for his first tweet from space in Mashable’s Open Web Awards. Vote & vote often!

Cross post on GovLoop.

4 Comments

Filed under culture, federal government, Gov 2.0, leadership, NASA, social media, space, tweet-up

4 responses to “Why Twitter? Why Now? Why Not?

  1. Info-rich tweets always existed, were called eg book titles (this comment is itself a tweet & has room to spare)

  2. I have used twitter for a while now. Every new person has the same reaction “I don’t get it”.

    Like anything, the first time can be an overwhelming (or underwhelming) experience.

    @elross (twittermcom/elross) has introduced twitter to a huge number of people and each person takes something new away from it.

    From what I saw of the NASA crew was pure joy. To have that expressed in an open forum is an awesome way to show the country and the world why NASA is important.

    Thanks for inviting me out to the launch.

  3. Great piece, I’m going to show this to all the people who ask me those questions about Twitter in general. Hard to believe it’s so powerful, but it is!

    It may also be the best tool for learning brevity around. ;)

  4. Pingback: SpaceTweetup: #Awesome | Bethbeck's Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s