My friend and fellow social mediaphile Jim Duncan and I had lunch recently. We were on the topic of Twitter, when Jim said, “How would you explain Twitter to John McCain?” As with anyone raised, employed and heck, darn near retired before the digital age, McCain and his generation are the toughest audience when explaining social media. Add to that the challenge of doing it in 140 characters or less and I believe all bets are off. Twitter themselves can do it, though — their homebase message is this:
“Social networking and microblogging service utilising instant messaging, SMS or a web interface.” That’s 84 characters, folks.
Of course that definition would never work with McCain. “Microwho-ing?” he might say.
Ironically, the same day Jim issued his challenge, I caught this YouTube clip of Katie Couric explaining YouTube to Larry King; same genre, same generation. I shared it with Jim via Twitter, natch.
Once again, Commoncraft comes to our rescue in yet another video in the Plain English series, designed to make sense of all these social media terms and tools we’re steadily adding to our vocabularies and our computers.
Meanwhile, I’m still struggling to explain Twitter in 140 characters or less. I might like this, though, “An online tool for sharing what you’re doing right now and finding out what others are doing and thinking, no matter where they are.” That’s 108. What would you say?