Sobering

Our interepid commenter Craig writes (appropriately, on Twitter):

When does my account get the “export Twitter archive” option? I really want to “digital humanities” the fuck out of that.

(More accurately, I want to know why I have an 90,000 word Twitter archive–or whatever–rather than a 90,000 word book manuscript.)

Hah! 6309 tweets times 140 characters, estimating 5 characters per word, is more like 136,000 words! That’s TWO manuscripts!

I have written 15,679 tweets in my time, so using Craig’s math, I am at 439,000 words on Twitter, which is four or five books’ worth of writing. I’ve likely written as much on Google Chat with Brad in that time, which means that in the last couple years, I have written ten books’ worth of words in completely ephemeral formats.

In addition, I’ve written 1200 posts on this particular blog alone, representing only half of my career as a blogger. If we estimate about 500 words per post, that’s 600,000 words or six to ten books — meaning I’ve written between twelve and twenty books’ worth of words in blog format. My web writing before the blog likely adds up to at least one book. (I don’t even want to think about how much I’ve written in blog comments!)

So I’ve written (let’s say) twenty-five books worth of stuff online. I’ve written four print books and (let’s say) one full book worth of articles (I’ll count web-only articles here for simplicity — it’d probably be a relatively big book, but it makes up for the fact that two of my books are short). That means that, by wordcount, my actual “official” printed publications add up to 1/6 or approximately 15% of my outpouring of words.

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5 Responses to “Sobering”

  1. Jason Hills Says:

    Welcome to the fellowship of compulsive writers.

  2. Ian Bogost Says:

    Except blog posts and tweets, while composed of words and even sentences, have nothing to do with the kind of writing that produces books. How many steps did you walk last year? Yet, that hardly means you could have walked across the continent had you only put them all in a row.

  3. ben Says:

    It gladdens me to know that the era of collected works running to the dozens of volumes is not past us yet.

  4. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Ian, Wow, tell me more about the difference between the two types of writing! The idea had never occurred to me!

  5. Adam Kotsko Says:

    To be less sarcastic: I’m well aware that my tweets and blog posts don’t add up to a coherent book (or books). I don’t even think that a “best of” collection of my blog posts would add up to much that anyone would or should want to read in book form. But it does remain the case that if you copied and pasted them all into a book format (along the lines of the “complete works” Ben mentions), they would fill volumes.


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