The other day I spoke at a conference for the leading bloggers in Norway.
It was a little unnerving. Bloggers are a pretty fast bunch, so singing the praises of Slow to them felt like barbecuing a steak at a vegan retreat.
From the stage, I could see laptop screens glowing in the dark. An iPhone rang. Members of the audience tweeted my talk, their dispatches scrolling down a large screen behind me. In Norwegian.
Even so, the Slow message seemed to go down well. I was not booed, heckled or pelted with tomatoes. Okay, someone tweeted that I reminded him of Quentin Tarantino. But given the high geek content in the room, I’m going to take that as a compliment.
The surest sign that the Slow philosophy made sense to those Norwegian bloggers is that several of them will soon be blogging on Slow Planet.
But the conference left a mark on me, too. I lost my Twitter virginity there. I decided that the only way to balance all the tweets about me was to start tweeting back.
So what do I make of Twitter? It’s a question put to me a lot by journalists these days. My view is that, like all technology, Twitter is neither good nor bad. What matters is how we use it.
Twitter can be a fun, enriching and provocative way to air views and connect with people. It can even reshape the political landscape, as we’ve seen during the protests in Iran. Sometimes a heat-of-the-moment 140-character missive is just the ticket.
But I think Twitter is best enjoyed as part of a balanced diet. In other words, it should complement – rather than replace – other forms of communication.
The trouble is that it can be very tempting to do everything at the speed of a tweet. And I mean everything.
Two university students are now reducing some of the greatest works of English literature, such as James Joyce’s Ulysses, to 140-character tweets.
This strikes me as an amusing parlour game that might inspire some people to read the original books in their entirety. It might even add to our understanding of the English canon.
But it also plays into the cultural pressure to reduce all communication to high-speed sound bytes.
Already, research shows that millions of people are no longer bothering to update their blogs. Why? Because blogging is now too slow. It’s much easier (and quicker) to type a short update on Facebook or to fire of a tweet.
If the Slow revolution stands for anything, it stands for doing everything at the right speed. And that principle holds true for communication. There are times for a shoot-from-the-hip tweet, but there are also times for more reflective – or slower – forms of communication.
I’ll tweet from time to time when it feels right. But I’ll also continue writing blogs, emails, articles and even books.
If you want to follow my tweets, my username is carlhonore.