Late last year, for instance, Ross Storey wrote on his blog about the death of e-mail, claiming that text messaging and its related platforms are the preferred medium of communication among young people. Storey provides some convincing statistics to back up his argument. Of course, in 2007, I remember reading this "death of e-mail" story in Slate.
I work with young people every day, and I have to explain to my bosses that I yes indeed do text my students when I need to get in touch with them. They will respond to a text, almost to a person, within an hour -- most of them within 10 minutes. To many of them, w-mail, which often requires sitting at an old fashioned computer keyboard, seems formal and old fashioned. Forget the handwritten note. If the art of letter writing was elbowed aside by email, its been positively decimated by text messaging. But who was writing long, literary letters anyway? Aren't writers going to write, regardless of the medium?
Rather than bemoan the death of the paper-and-ink letter or the e-mail, let us instead embrace the form of the tweet and the text -- all 140 characters of them -- despite the awkward SMS shorthand and l337isms, as a form of composition that rewards the concise, the clever, and the well-timed. If you want to see fine Tweeters at work, go pick up the feed from film critic Roger Ebert (@ebertchicago) or the disturbing and hilarious @eddiepepitone. You don't know what you're missing if you won't dip just a toe in the waters of the Twittering sea.
Readers, where have you found your most artful texts?
by Mark Hayes