For those who don’t know, Tvittering refers to the process of mounting a discussion on Twitter about a particular episode of a program as it is being broadcast.

It’s a relatively new phenomenon – something which is starting to change the interaction between academia, industry, journalism and fandom. I think that it has huge possibilities, but I have some concerns about it as well, which I don’t see being given voice anywhere. That said, I know the Flow TV conference is planning a roundtable on Tvittering, so possibly these ideas will be raised there.

The first issue I have is timing. I’m not actually sure how this is handled in the US, given the variety of broadcast times and time zones. But for me, the problem is exacerbated by living in New Zealand. Now, I still try to keep up with US broadcasts of a large number of programs, but I still end up at least 24 hours behind. The up-shot of this is that I have to try to avoid various Twitter streams for 24 hours or so, following any given episode of SurvivorIdolAmazing RaceLost etc. Reality programming, especially competition-based reality programming, proves especially problematic, as even fairly obtuse comments can prove to be spoilers.

Timing forms the basis of my second issue with Tvittering – which is the ephemeral nature of Twitter. Trying to read tweets that might have happened a few days ago can be a slightly disorienting experience, and that is assuming they can still be accessed. And beyond that, once it has happened, the conversation moves on, and so even if you are able to “catch up”, your ability to contribute is limited.

While writing this, I’ve started to realise that this sounds a lot like the whinings of someone who isn’t being included in the reindeer games, and I came close to deleting this post completely; but, after a little consideration, I decided it was worthwhile just pointing out some of these ideas, as they may not be apparent to those on the “inside”.

I don’t have any particular solutions to these problems, and I hate raising issues without positing at least some form of possible answer. I guess one thought might be software-based – a plug-in perhaps for particular Twitter software (Tweetdeck is my software of choice) to allow the temporary hiding of Tvitter-related tweets. I have played with Tweedact, but it is a little clumsy for the sort of regular usage I’m thinking of. Plus, this only addresses the first issue.

It’s interesting, but in an era when the time delay between North American and international broadcast is (generally*) diminishing, the immediacy of interpersonal discussion online makes that small delay feel like a lifetime.

*Dollhouse has YET to hit our screens. Ridiculous.


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