How to Tweet Like Margaret Atwood

Question: Why does Twitter appeal to you?

Margaret Atwood:
Twitter is a very interesting phenomenon because you get all kinds of things going on and it’s not just one thing.  You have people writing Haiku on it.  You have people yelling at other people and they probably should realize that Twittering is publishing.  And you can end up with a libel suit on their hands.  That hasn’t quite sunk in, in some areas, but it’s true; so is blogging.  

So people are interacting in these unprecedented sorts of ways that were not possible before the invention of social media like this.  And we’re in the early stages of it.  The good sides of it are, for instance, if you want the answers to a question and you put it out there, you’ll get the answers.  Some of them may be wrong, but you’ll get a whole bunch of answers and then you can then sift through them and see which ones fit your question.  

If you want help with something, and people often send out cries for help for their various causes over Twitter, it works with that too.  So there are all kinds of good uses for it and everything has a dark side; there are bad uses for it too.  It doesn’t depend on the technology, it depends on the users, but the technology does facilitate a kind of instant communication that can just go viral and become a new story.  

So Twitter is now part of the news.  Twitter is not part of people making news.  And all of the news outlets have got their blogs and online versions and Twitter feeds.   

Question:
What makes for a good tweet?

Margaret Atwood: There’s all kinds of good tweets.  Some of them are just people replying to other people’s questions.  Sometimes you get a joke going.  For instance during the Canadian Olympics, the Canadians were saying, “own the podium,” and I put out something that said, “Oh, it’s a brash to say... it’s a bit un-Canadian, it’s a bit brash to say, 'own the podium,' what do you suggest?”  And the Twitter folks piled all these pretty hilarious suggestions that they could follow by a hash tag that said, '@podium.'  So they were saying things like, “A podium for me meant the podium, “Maybe squeeze over a bit so I can just snuggle up to the podium.”  So they went on like that for a while.  And right now, we seem to be proposing a turnip for the Prime Minister due to a remark made in an article saying, “I would vote for a turnip if it were transparent, accountable, listened to people, and wasn’t Parliamentary Democrat.”  So the turnip is now under some pressure to become a write-in candidate or possibly form its own party.  But being a vegetable, it’s taking a bit of time to think this over.  

Meanwhile, we are learning a bit about it, this turnip, its likes and dislikes.  And it did go to a publishing lunch today to discuss its book deal.

He’s not usually this spiffy-looking.  He put on his special New York outfit to go to the publishing lunch.  You can see it looks a bit like a cabbage, but that’s what’s in this season for turnips.  And he did have a nice lunch and I think he’s going to my reading and interview tonight at the the 92nd Street Y and I think he’ll be in Portland, Oregon talking to Ursula Le Guin, and I think he’s going to Portsmouth, New Hampshire where he hopes to meet with Stephen King.  I shouldn’t say "he" because he doesn’t actually have a gender.  I should say, "it."  He's an all round candidate.

Recorded 10/21/2010
Interviewed by Max Miller

The sprightly 71-year-old has really taken to Twitter and now has over 85,000 followers.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

4 reasons Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for universal basic income

In his final years, Martin Luther King, Jr. become increasingly focused on the problem of poverty in America.

(Photo by J. Wilds/Keystone/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Despite being widely known for his leadership role in the American civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. also played a central role in organizing the Poor People's Campaign of 1968.
  • The campaign was one of the first to demand a guaranteed income for all poor families in America.
  • Today, the idea of a universal basic income is increasingly popular, and King's arguments in support of the policy still make a good case some 50 years later.
Keep reading Show less

Dead – yes, dead – tardigrade found beneath Antarctica

A completely unexpected discovery beneath the ice.

(Goldstein Lab/Wkikpedia/Tigerspaws/Big Think)
Surprising Science
  • Scientists find remains of a tardigrade and crustaceans in a deep, frozen Antarctic lake.
  • The creatures' origin is unknown, and further study is ongoing.
  • Biology speaks up about Antarctica's history.
Keep reading Show less

10 reasons to be optimistic in 2019


Rwanda is pioneering the regulation and use of drones - such as delivering blood

Photo: STEPHANIE AGLIETTI/AFP/Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs

Even the optimists among us would have to admit 2018 was a challenging year. The fractured world that became the focus of our 2018 Annual Meeting a year ago came under further pressure from populist rhetoric and rising nationalist agendas. At the same time, the urgent need for coordinated global action in areas such as climate change, inequality and the impact of automation on jobs became more intense.

Keep reading Show less