Surprise Hits: Twitter offers the profound and mundane in quick, addictive hits


For some, Twitter represents the end of the world -- or at least the death of human communication. In an increasingly "less is more" internet-writing trend, the incredible brevity of Twitter messages, or "tweets," leaves no room for deeper thought or connection. And the medium's ease of use notoriously encourages endless updates on the dull, seemingly meaningless events of daily life.

But a funny thing happened on the way to oblivion. Far from causing the death of communication, Twitter is revitalizing it. The sweet simplicity of 140-character messages makes it easy not only to enable bursts of urgent activism and journalism, but the medium's democratic nature theoretically makes it possible for unknowns to reach the rich and famous. Some celebrities appear to encourage this closeness: comedian John ("I'm a PC) Hodgman uses Twitter to solicit his fans' help, and horror writer Neil Gaiman offers fans intimate glimpses into his personal life.

Originally published