Following Stephen Elliot’s post http://bit.ly/32Mt06, I began covering Dan Baum’s Twitter story relatively late in the game,
three days after his first tweet about being fired from The New Yorker.
May 8, 10:46am: “People often ask why I left the New Yorker. After all, I had a staff writer job. Isn’t that the best job in journalism?”
By the time I arrived @danielsbaum on May 11, I had to hit the “more” button 8 times to find the beginning of his story.
Reading the story backwards gives you the sense that each tweet is drawing you closer and closer to an inevitable end.
140 characters at a time, and once it’s out there, it’s out there.
Dan employs many conventional storytelling techniques as well: dialogue, cliffhangers…
and poetry too, if you’re a fan of the line break.
Though Gawker calls this “a watershed moment for Twitter,” http://bit.ly/uc66O
others have been more skeptical of Dan’s Twitterfest.
Why write about his 2007 dismissal now? asks The LA Times. “Maybe he’s promoting something. Could he have a book out?” http://bit.ly/gngza
He does. The book, ‘Nine Lives: Death and Life in New Orleans,’ chronicles the lives of 9 disparate New Orleanians. http://bit.ly/teKQl
Remembering Baum as “a charmingly bedazzled and sometimes gaffe-prone tourist,” the Best of New Orleans Blog writes,
“It’s hard not to feel empathy for the man, even as he comes off as tone-deaf to the way other writers (and people) live, complaining
about a gig that paid him $90,000 a year for 30,000 words.” http://bit.ly/n7xoZ
Probing the relationship between Dan and his writing partner/wife, Margaret Knox, The American Prospect notes that
Margaret’s work goes completely unacknowledged outside danbaum.com, an arrangement that seems “deeply problematic.”
“Their system seems to reinforce the oldest sexist divide, the one that pushes women into the ‘private sphere’ while men go out
and conquer the public world, taking most of the credit.” http://bit.ly/ztDqi
According to GalleyCat, hundreds of Twitter users have been analyzing Dan’s tweets “like ancient scroll fragments.” http://bit.ly/Hh3oa
Indeed, searching “dan baum” on Twitter reveals interesting discussion. http://bit.ly/sZiyN
New Yorker staff writer Susan Orlean weighs in RT @susanorlean:
“Contrary to @danielsbaum, I don’t think The New Yorker office is a creepy place, nor is the atmosphere ‘strained’. He seems WAY off to me.”
RT @erickoeck: Just tried to read this Dan Baum thing. So completely unreadable at twitter.com/danielsbaum.’
RT @R_Nash: I don’t think it’s optimized. This feels like a stunt, a good one, but just a stunt. A budding art that’ll get nipped…
I have to agree.
Dan’s conveniently timed story capitalizes on his relationship with the New Yorker to broadcast his publishing history
and keep the spotlight on his book. bit.ly URLs peppered throughout his tweets link to his online portfolio, his proposals, and his articles,
many of which are featured in ‘Nine Lives.’
An innovative way to use Twitter? Not exactly. But a clever way? Most definitely.
Was Dan really tweeting on the fly, or was this a prepared article parsed out to us in 140-character chunks?
With 2000+ Twitter followers at the time of this writing, Dan will have to take the bad press with the good.
After all, people are writing (and tweeting) about Dan Baum and his work. Isn’t that what he wanted?