The Tweet of Cthulhu


Fail Cthulhu, by Robert Cadena

Those of you who know me know I love me my Twitter. I am an avid twitterer (tweeter? twit?) and reader of the live feed. Among my subscriptions are @SarahPalinUSA and @daveweigel, @glenngreenwald and @larrysabato. I even follow @fivethirtyeight.

So it was with interest that I read about this case from Australia, which shows the perils of liveblogging with Twitter. As you know, liveblogging is one of the most dynamic forms of blogging and it’s exciting and fun. We did it on Election Night and had a blast. Using Twitter to establish a liveblog is one of the best ways to liveblog, and I never thought about how it might go wrong.

The present Australian case has all the great tropes: a villianous Old Media mogul, a burned-out reporter giving her One Last Scoop with a Bile Topping, and just for you, Mister Universe, global warming deniers. In short, man vs man, man vs nature, and man vs himself. Faulkner would’ve been proud.

Jonathan Holmes does such a great job of summarizing the facts of the case, I’m not going to do that here. Go to his Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC) blog, have a read, then come back here and make a comment. Or two or three.

We even have some attorneys here who might be able to opine on the legal ramifications of the case. Knowing that Commonwealth libel law is quite different from US libel law, could something like this happen here?

About Monotreme

Monotreme is an unabashedly liberal dog lover, writer, and former scientist who now teaches at a University in an almost-square state out West somewhere. |
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11 Responses to The Tweet of Cthulhu

  1. shiloh says:

    As a non twit, after being re-directed twice, having foolishly started to read said article must agree w/Andrew’s comment …

    Andrew Mclennan: 30 Nov 2010 4:30:57pm ~ Twitter is a medium for idiots.

    btw, Sydney is (14) hours ahead of NYC … time wise, not tweeter wise!

  2. Monotreme says:


    Not sure if your beef is with the entire medium of Twitter, or the way Holmes has constructed the links in his blog article. Please explain.

  3. shiloh says:

    As a non twit, not so much a beef as I really don’t care one way or the other. Andrew’s comment struck me as cogent, but maybe he’s a non twit also lol.

    Should have bypassed the article altogether as silence is golden


    Re: wiki-leaks and cyber space in general, nothing on the internet/information highway is secure, so start from there and one can’t go wrong, eh ~ but that’s another thread.

    garbage in, garbage out! as the minutiae is defeaning …

  4. dcpetterson says:

    Clearly, 140-character bumper stickers are not the place to express thoughts about complex topics. It happens anyway. And in a culture addicted to the soundbyte, we can expect it to continue. Our national discussion is becoming Palinized, with even the most vital ideas reduced to M&M-sized morsels — and, therefore, misrepresented.

    It’s easy to evoke visceral responses with only a few words. Subtle nuance, not so much. You can engage in sloganeering and can evoke existing talking points. Expressing some new and intricate idea, describing a workable balanced budget plan, explaining the pros and cons of a reform bill — no.

    Reports by haiku.
    Bumper sticker governance.
    Tweets from the front lines.

    Australian libel and slander laws differ from those in the United States. And a good thing, or Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann would have been in prison long ago. Wait, did I say that was a “good” thing?

  5. filistro says:

    We are Babes in Toyland… explorers in a brave new world, navigating without a map. There are so many pitfalls in this new media we’ve created. Worst of all… IT LEAVES A PAPER TRAIL. One can’t say… “You must have misheard, that’s not what I said…” because somebody else can (and will) instantly whip out a copy of what you actually said.

    I know nothing about tweeting and hope I never will. I don’t even carry a cell phone because I don’t WANT people to be able to reach out and touch me whenever they choose. I really need long periods of solitude when I am all alone with nature and my thoughts… I’d go nuts if I had to bve connected all the time.

    But I’ve been terrified for years by e-mail and its two ever-present possibilities for personal horror… the “send” button and the “reply all” button.

    If somebody invents a way to reverse the “send” function, they will be an instant billionaire. And as for “reply all”.. shudder…

    How many e-mail loops have experienced the delicious awfulness of somebody directing a private message to another person on the loop but inadvertently hitting “reply all” instead? I knew a successful writer whose career was ruined by that one finger-tap. Not only did she lose a publisher, no other publishing house would touch her after word got around what she’d said about her editor… and word circled the globe within an hour.

    You have to be SO CAREFUL…

  6. Mr. Universe says:

    Here’s why I have kind of rejected the twittersphere.
    1. Monotreme has to get on to me for constantly doing it wrong
    2. We have to add this whole new vernacular to our vocabulary
    3. 140 charachters is quite the limitation for what I have on my mind
    4. I have to constantly go to the Internet to decipher what BFF, ZOMG, ROTFLMAO, etc. mean
    5. I hate what this is doing to the English language
    6. tweeting whie driving, dining, or any other time you should be paying attention to me.
    7. I have enough distractions in my life

    I’m sure I can think of others.

  7. filistro says:

    What does ZOMG” mean? I know the OMG part… but I’m baffled by the Z.

    Zounds? Zowie!!? Zeus?

  8. The “Z” comes from its proximity to the left Shift key. When someone is typing excitedly, they often will hit adjacent keys on the keyboard or transpose letters. Hence ZOMG, teh, and exclamation points interspersed with ones (!!1!!11!). It’s all part of Leetspeak.

  9. filistro says:

    I’m betting Mr U shares my passionate, visceral hatred of the very concept of “leetspeak.”

  10. Monotreme says:

    Haters gonna hate.

  11. dcpetterson says:

    I’m waiting for the first work of serious fiction written entirely in leet. Has it been published yet?

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