Tom Clancy Too Dense? Cozy Up with a Twiller


New York Times journalist Matt Richtel has invented a storytelling format called the Twiller. The idea is for Twitter users to follow fictional characters -- which some already do anyway -- as they progress though a plot.

It's not the worst idea ever, and when my friend Atif first explained it to me I thought, "Hey, that sounds sort of like Memento."

Except Twillers are a long-term commitment. Richtel's been developing his plot for the last two months. Follow @mrichtel, tweet by grueling tweet, as he works out the narrative kinks.

From what I can gather, there's a hooker involved, and a killer, and for some reason everybody went to the Democratic National Convention. It probably doesn't help that there are two characters "using" the same account. Plus, what's with the poor choice of hooker name? Shalala?! High school boys do better than that.

Richtel boasts 530 followers as of this writing, so the project definitely sparks interest. And it's not all bad. I dig how the plot weaves into current events, but I don't like how @mrichtel doesn't follow anybody back. It makes the characters' attempts at reaching out look disingenuous.

In a snarky jab against Amazon's ebook reader Kindle, Steve Jobs recently declared people don't read anymore. Kindle's sales demonstrate that's not true, but it is clear that readers' habits have changed. Maybe reading, of a (bastardized? evolved?) sort, would catch on with more people if the material were cut up and spoonfed in wee doses. (It worked in Japan, right?)

That is to say there may well be a market for Twillers, but I'm not yet convinced Richtel's the lonelygirl15 that precipitates it. (He's already weirded out Valleywag.)

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