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Open Letter to Doc Jensen

December 9th, 2009

Dear Jeff,

I can call you Jeff, can’t I? Since I’m one of fourteen of the people that you follow on Twitter, I could be presuming too much that we are now, like, BFFs? Maybe I should call you Doc? Or possibly Mr. Jensen. But that seems too informal, since I’ve been reading your LOST columns for many years, I feel like I know a little bit about you. Though I probably hardly know you at all, and so should probably be more formal than just Jeff, or, “Hey Doc”. Sigh, I seem to have gotten a bit circular, which having read your columns, I think your probably familiar with my dilemma.

Let’s just cut to the heart of the matter, shall we? I was going to title this post “A LOST fanatics guide to Twitter”, or alternatively, “Doc Jensen needs HELP!” But at the last moment, I’ve shied away from such vanity. Though I do feel a bit of responsibility for getting you set straight on Twitter, and how to use it’s cryptic but useful syntax and customs. I don’t want you to look too noobish, like Neal Patrick Harris, who apparently, while brilliant and was a practicing Doctor at a very young age, can’t quite count to 140. So I thought I’d help you out. Oooh! Just thought of another alternate title: “The Keys to the Hieroglyphs: LOST Twitter Guide” Yeah? Hm. Too presumptuous.

I’ll just start at the beginning.

140 characters, that’s all you get. You could go to some services like twitlonger or tumblr to get more words linked to your tweets, but that’s a bit lame. IF you MUST be wordy, get a blog, or write a column for Entertainment Weekly, or something. Keep your tweets at 140 characters, that’s the LAW. Even @jacob_islandgod has to use 140 characters. Also the 140 character limit includes any of the names you’ve addressed in your tweet, so you might even have to edit more. I know, I know… it might be hard to do for a person that has a way with words, such as yourself. I don’t make the rules of the twitterverse, I wasn’t even consulted.

Some characters are more special than others, think of these of those that are on Jacob’s list. These characters are:

  • @ – The “at” sign is like an address.  The @ sign is used to address a tweet at someone, or to have the tweet show up in their Mentions feed.  So, for example, any tweet with @LOST_WFTB shows up in a special way to me.  But you @EWDocJensen might not even realize that it’s been tweeted.  Also with the @ sign, if it’s placed at the very beginning of your tweet, it’s sent as a semi-private tweet to that one twit.  Kinda like when Ben used the mirror to flash a signal to Richard before turning himself into the Orchid Station.  People following Ben, (Locke and Hurley) knew about the message, and all of Richard’s followers knew about the message.  But Kemy and his posse, or Jack and his team had now idea about the message.  So be aware, that tweets starting with @LOST_WFTB will only be seen by those twitterers that follow both you and me.  Everyone else might not see the tweet.
  • # – the ‘pound’ sign is called a hashtag in twitter.  It’s kinda old skool, but still very useful.  It can be used to ‘tag’ your tweets with a special symbol or sign that your tweet has something to do with #LOST or #FlashForward or #Fringe.  Such tags help people search and find topics.  There are no real rules, it’s kind of a make it up as you go along thing.  Ask @DrDreia the self confessed #queenofthebaroquehashtag for more details. Another special tag that I use a lot is #WFTB which means (to me) Watch From The Beginning.  Which is the name of my LOST Re-watch that is based on Twitter feeds.  More on that later… maybe in a special edition of post on this blog.
  • D – This may look like the letter D, but in twitter at the very beginning of your post, it takes on great meaning.  It’s stands for Direct Message (or DM).  This is used with a valid username to send a private message to another user.  Think of it as Ben sending a min-tape to Juliet to communicate secrets without the prying eyes of other people listening in.  Of course, if your recipient goes ahead and retweets a DM then you’re screwed. Maybe.
  • RT – This isn’t official, but it’s stilled used by all the cool kids.  It stands for re-tweet, and it’s a bit contreversial for people with nothing better to do than to worry about proper citation syntax.  You know, the kind that read the Chicago Manual of Style, AP Stylebook, or Strunk & White curled up next to the fire, with a glass of chianti and some fava beans (Or write the awesome iPhone app Tweetie). But for us cool kids, that really could care less we just tack on an RT (or use TweetDeck to RT old skool) at the beginning of our tweet to re-broadcast something that we like or think is cool.  This is like, well, remember in the Lord of the Rings, when they lit those signal fires on the tip-tops of the mountains (and boy, who are the losers that get that duty station?) Retweets are kinda like that, public rebroadcasts of good information.  Twitter went ahead with this concept and made it a feature, but it’s kinda different, and kinda lame, being that it’s officially sanctioned and all.  Kinda like roaming the halls of highscool with a hall pass.
  • URL shortening services.  These are a must by the hard core twits, to keep the 140 characters alive with content, and less with the arcane url syntax.  So if you want to keep big long strings of URL’s outta your tweets (like http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20313460_20325436,00.html for example) use http://bit.ly or http://is.gd to shrink your URLs and unlock the code to better tweets. (Or use TweetDeck, which can shrink URL’s automatically.

Well Doc, that’s it, The secret of the Twitter codes and gylphs. I hope you enjoyed reading, and take this with the humor that I’ve intended.  Also, keep pushing the LOST Themed Disney Attraction petition… We’ve gotta get @DamonLindelof and @CarltonCuse to sign that thing.

To my faithful readers, who are legion:  What advice about twitter would you give Jeff “Doc” Jensen?  Put it in the comments.

Categories: Life, Television Tags:
  1. December 9th, 2009 at 12:02 | #1

    Great Post!

    I just wanted to add one thing for Doc Jensen!

    You might also want to check out the “@replies” section on the right hand side (assuming you’re using twitter from the web). That’ll show you what people you don’t follow are saying either to you or about you. It’s a great way to interact with new people etc. give it a shot! Hope you like Twitter! Also keep up the great work!

  2. Scott Welch
    December 9th, 2009 at 13:47 | #2

    Doc,

    don’t forget that people can’t DM you unless you follow them. So, no contests telling your 3000+ followers to DM you about hieroglyphs and stuff. Jon Stueve doesn’t count. We are aren’t as special as he is. 😉

    @scott_welch on twitter (Husband, Dad, Pastor, lover of theology, football, and all things LOST)

    🙂

    BTW- I love your LOST updates! Currently brewing all kinds of theories in that thing I call a brain…

  3. December 9th, 2009 at 15:30 | #3

    Need to add a comment from my facebook feed:

    Don’t forget the uber-important #followfriday used to persuade others to follow very exciting twitter accounts with great insights like @HapiBnBusiMom. I hear she has fun and exciting things to say about LOST when she has the desire to actually conform her grand comments to the 140 character limitations 😉

    Doc should start paying attention to the #followfriday’s from those he’s following and look to increase his “following” base to gain more exposure to all that is LOST.

    She’s right #followfriday is another good hashtag when increasing who you follow.

  4. December 9th, 2009 at 21:26 | #4

    All I can say is that I appeciate the tutorial–even in this public, semi-shaming fashion! I don’t quite understand your harshing on my word count: I just keep writing until that word count thingie goes down to zero. Maybe once or twice I’ve exceeded it, but even then I’m not sure that’s accurate. Or am I completely misunderstanding the word count thingie?

  5. December 10th, 2009 at 01:15 | #5

    Doc, I certainly didn’t intend any shame. Your tweets are just the right length (unlike NPH) any fun poking at your wordiness is a homage to you LOST Theories, which while lengthy are chock full of awesome, and not one jot or tittle should be cut. Srsly, I’m a big fan!

  6. December 10th, 2009 at 09:59 | #6

    Most important of all…avoid any word that gets #nastypoledancer Britney from follwoing you. Don’t tweet any of these words: hi, no, yes…or any other character on your keyboard. *pauses* humm wait, I don’t think you can avoid her. So #spamherbottom if she does!

    Oh I am hashtagout now.

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