Twitter Reviews

We are consuming more information than ever before. Newspapers, magazines, 24 hours news broadcasts alongside RSS feeds, blogs, and podcasts. Yes, it’s information overload, but there is something empowering about how easy it is to access information these days. We are in an exciting time where users of Twitter can post a review of a performance as quickly as they can turn on their mobile phone (I decided against using the phrase “tweeview”, which I have admittedly just made up, but I’m sure someone has used it before).

After a new production premiers, a quick search on the Twitter public feed around 10:30pm can reveal exactly what the audience thought. But, as a insect-themed superhero once said, with great power comes great responsibility.

What are the downsides to instant Twitter reviews?

Twitter encourages us to make concise comments on what we are doing right now. Our followers are not really interested in what we were thinking or doing last week: timely content is king. This is a powerful tool for crowd sourcing; gauging a general response to a particular topic or event (whether that be real-time responses to the recently broadcast political debates or a funny video from YouTube). However, it’s important to think of these responses as quantitative not necessarily qualitative feedback.

The number of tweets about a certain topic certainly gives us an idea of what people are talking about (the “trending topics”) but expressing our opinions in any form is a difficult task and on Twitter it doesn’t help that we only have a few sentences wiggle room. So, not only are we expected to give our responses quickly but we are only given 140 characters to express it. I have been guilty of tweeting my feelings after seeing a show, but then after giving it a few days to process, I find that opinion changes.

The demand for timely content is not just restricted to online media. In order to compete with the timely content of blogs, newspaper reviewers often have deadlines in order to make the print for tomorrow’s edition. After leaving a performance at around 10pm, they may only have a few short hours to form an opinion let alone articulate it. I’d be interested to see how many reviewers change their opinion about a performance a few days after the event.

In summary, I suggest that social micro-blogging is great for the factual reporting of events, but not a reliable platform for emotional responses and reviews. As tempting as it may be to tweet your review as you shuffle out your aisle, or from the pub you escaped to at the interval, maybe we should consider waiting until at least the next morning.

This article was written by Craig Steele, one of our young critics. He is currently on placement in Australia for 5 months. Expect news and critical reflections from ‘down under’ by Craig over the coming months. Twitter: Craig88

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