Twitter is not a new idea

Amanda Holden on TwitterThe celebrity Tweeter, Amanda Holden, was “told off” last night by her producers at ITV for using her mobile during Britain’s Got Talent this week to send tweets. Apparently she was seen on camera sending her little messages during the live show. How do we know she was told off? She said so in one of her tweets during a commercial break.

People who do not use Twitter will probably think she is one of a clutch of celebrities who use this micro-blogging service for promotion, self aggrandisement, ego boosting or because of personal insecurities. Whilst that may be possible, a new study suggests it is less likely than you might think.

According to an historical study going back to the 18th Century, researchers at Cornell University have discovered that diary entries kept by people over the past 300 years are remarkably similar to tweets. Far from tweeting being new, it seems we have been doing it for centuries. It’s just that now we can do it “real time”. Historians explain the findings by saying that notebooks in the past were small, limiting the extent to which people could write. They could not produce extensive notes because of the physical restrictions, so they just jotted down short items about their daily activities. The experts on diary writing also say that diaries were indeed public documents – much like Tweets. Diaries were written in the 18th and 19th Centuries to share with others; they were not intended to be kept private.

It all rather suggests that Tweets fulfil an essential requirement. It implies that Tweeting is nothing new – it appears it is something we have always done.

So, rather than be critical of Amanda Holden and those other celebrity Tweeters, perhaps the real question to ask is why they are being so 18th Century….?

I have a thought on this, for what it’s worth. There is some evidence that sleep is an essential human requirement during which much brain activity occurs that appears to “sort out” all of our daily inputs. Some creatures with smaller brains do not sleep, as we know it. Our larger brains and – perhaps – consciousness itself means that sleep has a neurological function to it. Could it be too, that writing things down – jotting notes in the past, or writing Tweets today – is part of that same process. It is a function that helps our brains organise things more effectively. Otherwise, all those thoughts and inputs just float around waiting to be organised. It’s possible that Twitter is performing a significant function for our brains.

And, if you don’t use Twitter, that may mean that Amanda Holden has a better organised brain than you. Now, there’s a thought.

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