Review: Twitter's new retweet feature

The term feature is used loosely here.

I was skeptical when Twitter announced a Project Retweet. Why fix what isn’t broken? Sure, I had to copy and paste what I wanted to retweet, but that was just a little annoying, and after downloading the Twitter client now known as Echofon, right clicking and clicking Retweet put the text in the box for me, leaving space (provided that the characters were available) to provide commentary, something I like to do in a tweet.

Then the retweet feature rolled out.

The first thing I noticed was that I wasn’t receiving all my tweets in my Echofon feed. In fact, the only reason I noticed this in the first place was because I checked the trending topics on the website and noticed that someone had retweeted via the retweet button. This tweet did not show up in my Echofon feed. Neither did several other retweets via the retweet button.

Then I noticed the retweets button on the website where I could view all the things my following list had retweeted. After clicking it, I noticed that none of the recent retweets showed up on the feed; in fact, the newest one was several days old. To this day the newest retweet on the “retweeted by others” section of the feed is from November 18th, and many of my followers have retweeted through the website since then.

Yesterday one of my followers retweeted about the Macy’s Thanskgiving Day parade. I tried to reply to her via that tweet and noticed that the reply went to the person who made the original tweet. This makes sense in theory since the person I’m following couldn’t leave any additional commentary, but I wanted to reply to her and not to the original user.

Then there’s the fact that the retweet feature doesn’t let you add any additional commentary or edit the tweet in the first place. Sure, someone retweeting one of my tweets the old way loses eighteen characters to type “RT @sushimustwrite“, but honestly, I don’t care if the tweet is cut short, and they probably won’t ask for my permission anyway.

I still can’t see the website retweets in Echofon, and as far as I know, many clients haven’t adopted this feature yet. (Can someone add to this?) I’m hoping they don’t, for seeing my entire feed (RTs and all) is actually a good thing. Lots of valuable information can be gained from RTs that can’t otherwise be found.

Thumbs down, Twitter. This is a great idea in theory, but the core ideas that make retweeting so powerful aren’t integrated into the feature. I don’t plan on using it.


Review: Running with Scissors (book) by Augusten Burroughs

You know that saying “Truth is stranger than fiction”? It’s true. I finished reading Running with Scissors, a memoir by Augusten Burroughs today, and despite all the reviews on the back cover saying that the book was twisted and horrifying (yet hilarious). When I read the book, though, I found the book hilarious and well-written but was disappointed in the lack of twistedness. Where is the train wreck factor, I asked myself as I read. The reviews on the back cover promised me train wrecks. Now where are they?

But as I read, the story continued to be surprisingly tame. Was it my own fault, or was I expecting something that may not even show up? The answer was both. See, I have train wreck syndrome. Have you ever passed an accident on the road and absolutely have to stare? That’s me with just about everything. What most people would read and say “Wow, that’s terrible!”, I read and just keep on reading because that’s how my brain works. I’m used to the horror, so to speak.

Overall: A good book, but I probably wouldn’t read it again. Not because it was only mediocre, but because I don’t think I’d get more out of a reread.


The real review: Artemis Fowl

As I mentioned yesterday, I finished reading Artemis Fowl, a book about a twelve-year-old criminal and genius who gets on the bad side of a bunch of fairies. He also has a minion…erm, bodyguard named Butler. Sounds cool, right? The plot was actually interesting. The writing made me suffer through the novel. Yes, it’s a young adult novel, as so many people pointed out to me. However, the mark of good fiction is to be immersed in the world that the author has created and to forget that such a world outside the book can even exist. This book didn’t do that. The writing was as jerky as a car ride with that friend of my brother who nearly gets himself killed on every trip. Colfer enjoyed reminding me that no, we haven’t met this character yet, but we should have, and this is why they’re important. Let us take a moment to explain. How important can that character be if he was artificially introduced?

While we’re talking about Artemis, let’s talk about his character. He’s a twelve-year-old genius and criminal. He’s also arrogant as all hell, and boy, does he show it. Yes, he does have his occasional human moments (see a notable instance at the end of the novel for an example), but for most of the novel he’s static, and there’s little evidence of character development that would lead to the ending.

Overall, I read this like a dry textbook. Read it for the text and not for the meaning. Would not read this (or the rest of the series) again.

On another note, Eoin Colfer also wrote the sequel to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. This depresses me slightly because I was satisfied with the ending (even if Adams himself wasn’t) and I’m not a fan of Colfer’s writing style. Perhaps the style will be better when he’s not writing for teenagers, but there is no replacement for Douglas Adams’s humor.


Review: The Kite Runner

I finished reading The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini a few days ago. For me, the book is typically better than the movie, and despite the excellence of the movie, The Kite Runner is no exception. As a writer, I’ve trained myself to look for the points in a novel that we all learned in high school literature: the inciting incident, the buildup, the turning point, the climax, the resolution. (You may remember them by the proper names; I’m going by memory.) For the terrible books, it’s obvious that they’re just following a formula: possibly because the education system is failing us yet again by churning out barely literate citizens, and possibly because they haven’t spread their literary wings and tried to write without the formula as a crutch. For the wonderful books, the formula may still be there, but the reader doesn’t notice because they’re too engrossed in the story.

One thing in particular struck me while reading: the character-driven story. It’s tempting at first to say “But there is no plot! People are just wandering around and doing things!” Character-driven stories are centered around people, not things, and Amir and Hassan’s childhood turns one unfortunate incident into a life story worth telling, especially when you figure out the significance of the prologue. In fact, the character-driven story made me remember why I love writing so much to start with. With characters leading the way, there’s more room to explore the world around them, and you get to hear the voice inside them that just wants to have their own way.

The verdict on the book: Would read again. I’m keeping this one. It’s a good thing, too. I think I got some water stains on it at the bus stop one morning.

Book vs. Movie: The book, hands down. The movie is great, but there are only so many themes one can explore in a feature-length film.