Please help me!! I’m Tweeting, and I can’t stop!!!!!

Okay, I got­ta admit that I’ve been skep­ti­cal about the val­ue of Twit­ter. Lawyers tend to delude them­selves into believ­ing that they think impor­tant and deep thoughts. For exam­ple: “I just read an inter­est­ing arti­cle on res ipsa loquitur and its rela­tion­ship to the Philip­pines pro­bate code. Would you please pass the Chardon­nay and the shrimp tem­pu­ra?” And let’s face it, how good are lawyers at being brief? Lawyers are almost con­gen­i­tal­ly inca­pable of express­ing them­selves in 140 char­ac­ters or less.

But my army of mar­ket­ing con­sul­tants (er, all the mar­ket­ing dudes writ­ing on the Inter­net) says Twit­ter and Face­book have real busi­ness val­ue for lawyers (every­one assumes lawyers are too anti-social to actu­al­ly use those sites for their orig­i­nal­ly intend­ed social pur­pos­es). So I’ve done some mod­er­ate­ly care­ful look­ing at Twit­ter and have decid­ed to jump on the band­wag­on. Of course, now that I am on that band­wag­on, I think Twit­ter is the great­est thing since sliced bread. Here it is, my but­ton so you can fol­low me on Twit­ter:

Follow DrewCapuder on Twitter

What am I Tweet­ing about (like most peo­ple above 23, I ini­tial­ly asso­ci­at­ed the word “Tweet­ing” with some­thing that was drip­ping down my leg)? I have only been Tweet­ing a few weeks, so I am still get­ting my sea legs. But here is a list of things I have been and expect to be Tweet­ing about:

  • Employ­ment-relat­ed legal issues. This is the main area of my prac­tice, and most of my Tweets will be on this top­ic.
  • Legal issues relat­ing to the med­ical indus­try (much of my employ­ment lit­i­ga­tion is in the med­ical indus­try).
  • Oth­er legal issues which I think may be of inter­est to my “fol­low­ers” (I feel the pow­er cours­ing through my veins).
  • Time man­age­ment and orga­ni­za­tion­al skills. Like most lawyers and busi­ness peo­ple, I am always look­ing for ways to become more effi­cient, so I can spend more time con­cen­trat­ing on deep thoughts.
  • Com­put­er and soft­ware prod­ucts & issues that might be of inter­est to lawyers and busi­ness peo­ple.
  • Media issues. I teach a class at Fair­mont State Uni­ver­si­ty on legal and eth­i­cal issues in media, and I am espe­cial­ly inter­est­ed in media bias in gen­er­al and specif­i­cal­ly relat­ing to polit­i­cal cov­er­age.

My Tweets will almost always con­tain a link to an Inter­net-based sto­ry or arti­cle, so the points is usu­al­ly to pro­vide peo­ple fol­low­ing me a brief expla­na­tion to an inter­est­ing arti­cle on the Inter­net (remem­ber, the 140 char­ac­ter lim­it).

Try­ing to put a mean­ing­ful mes­sage into 140 char­ac­ters (or less) is chal­leng­ing, but it reminds me that lit­i­ga­tion lawyers espe­cial­ly should always think about how to sim­pli­fy and short­en their mes­sage. Lawyers in prepar­ing for tri­al almost always think they need nine years to present their case to a jury, and judges almost always think the lawyer needs no more than 140 char­ac­ters. So lawyers have to short­en and sim­pli­fy their mes­sage, and have to weed out all the extra­ne­ous garbage.

That need reminds me of one of my favorite books, and what is arguably the moth­er of all exam­ples of the need to con­dense and weed out—the gold-plat­ed LP on the Voy­ager space­craft. The book is Mur­murs of Earth by Carl Sagan. In 1977 NASA launched two space­craft named “Voy­ager”, with the pur­pose of trav­el­ing past our solar sys­tem into the stars. Each space­craft con­tained a gold-plat­ed long-play­ing record (in oth­er words, an old “LP”). The LP was a “call­ing card” to alien beings who might one day find one of these space­craft. This book is by the peo­ple who were chiefly respon­si­ble for select­ing what went on that LP. Think about it. If you had the lim­it­ed space of an old LP: (a) what greet­ings would you send from plant earth, (b) what sounds from earth would you put on the LP, © what pic­tures from earth would you put on the LP, and (d) what music from earth would you put on it? This book is about what Carl Sagan and oth­ers select­ed, and why.

So, you are shoot­ing a space­craft into the heav­ens, and you have only a sin­gle, gold-plat­ed LP to place the “mes­sage” from plan­et Earth which you want alien beings to receive. What text, what pic­tures, what sounds, and what music from your plan­et Earth do you want them to receive as the first mes­sage from Earth? They know noth­ing about you and your plan­et, so what is the sto­ry you want to tell? Breath­tak­ing!!

So there is my pur­port­ed­ly deep thought for the day, in writ­ing about Twit­ter and its 140 char­ac­ters. So pass the Bud Light, and put the TV back on the wrestling match.

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Drew M. Capuder

Publisher of Drew Capuder's Employment Law Blog. Lawyer with more than 29 years experience, focusing on employment law, commercial litigation, and mediation. Extensive trial and appellate experience in state and federal courts. Call Drew at 304-333-5261
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